TV Loses Icon: Mary Tyler Moore Dies At 80

By January 25, 2017
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She could have easily rested on her laurels as one of the stars of The Dick Van Dyke Show, but instead she revolutionized television for women.

And now the world must mourn and remember Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday at 80.

Mara Buxbaum, who represented Moore over the years, shared the news in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.

“Today, beloved icon Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine. A groundbreaking actress, producer and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.”

Mary Tyler Moore was born Dec. 29, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of a housewife and a clerk. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 8, and by 17 she was dancing in commercials during television shows like Ozzie and Harriet.

She would get her first regular acting role in 1959 as a receptionist for Richard Diamond, Private Detective opposite the late David Janssen. She then did smaller roles during guest stints in a number of series, until she was cast as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961.

In fact, Moore reportedly lied to producers about her age, so they wouldn’t think she was too young to play wife to a man who was 14 years her senior. The comedy series – which lasted until 1966 – also became the first where Moore would break down barriers for women. The biggest move on Dick Van Dyke was the insistence of her character to wear Capri pants instead of dresses like other housewives.

While such a move in 1961 might have turned people off, instead it created a new fashion craze of pants-wearing women.

In 1970, she decided to take on the role of a single woman entering the workplace in The Mary Tyler Moore show. There, Moore played Mary Richards, the producer of a television news program in Minnesota.

Both shows earned Moore 11 Emmy nominations, winning five of them in 1964, 1966, 1973, 1974 and 1976.

She would grab four more nominations after those shows, winning her last one in 1993 for Stolen Babies.

Moore also found some success in movies, earning an Oscar nomination in 1981 for Ordinary People from director Robert Redford. However, the best actress award that year went to Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Moore worked right up into recent years, although in a reduced capacity. The actress was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1972, meaning she was insulin-dependent. While she did make one final television appearance in 2013 on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, former co-star Dick Van Dyke told Larry King last October that diabetes had really started taking its toll on the actress.

Moore was married three times, first to Dick Meeker from 1951 until she started on Dick Van Dyke. She then married television producer Grant Tinker in 1962, a marriage that would last until 1981. Tinker died just last November at 90.

Moore married one last time in 1983, this time to a doctor Robert Levine, who survives. She was preceded in death by her only child, son Richard, who died from an accidental gunshot to the head in 1980.

Many people from Moore’s two most popular shows are still active today. Carl Reiner, who created Dick Van Dyke, is 94, and just five years ago contributed a story to the former Fox animated comedy The Cleveland Show.

Van Dyke, 91, is set to make a cameo in the upcoming Emily Blunt vehicle Mary Poppins Returns. Rose Marie, who played Mary’s friend Sally Rogers on Dick Van Dyke, is 93, and is set to appear in an upcoming independent film Sold from director David Green.

From Mary Tyler Moore, co-star 77-year-old Valerie Harper – who played Mary’s friend Rhoda – just did a guest spot on Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital last year. Gavin McLeod, 85, who played writer Murray Slaughter, most recently did a guest appearance in the short-lived online comedy The Comeback Kids.

Ed Asner, Mary’s boss at the television station, is very busy even at 87 with more than half-dozen roles lined up this year alone, including an episode of Fox’s Bones that aired just last week.

Asner was among those celebrities that mourned Moore’s loss on social media.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.
  • John Ikarus

    Mary turned the world on with her smile. Mary took a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. Rest in peace Mary