The legendary Mary Tyler Moore passed away on January 25, 2017. She was 80 years old.
“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,” her spokesperson Mara Buxbaum said in a statement. “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.”
Moore will be remembered as a revolutionary sitcom star, and as a woman who was ahead of her time. Her hugely influential 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show is regarded as a feminist milestone in American television, but Moore was also a respected TV producer of classics like Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, a passionate animal rights activist, and a woman who used her celebrity to help raise funds and awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
To pay tribute to the icon, we look back at a few fascinating facts that you may not know about Mary Tyler Moore.
1. Moore was born in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn, New York on December 29, 1936. She was the oldest of three siblings born to George Tyler Moore and Marjorie Hackett. Her family moved to California when she was eight.
2. At 17, Moore got her first taste of showbiz when she was cast as “Happy Hotpoint,” the dancing elf who appeared in 39 commercials for Hotpoint appliances. The TV commercials ran during the popular 1950s series, The Ozzie and Harriet Show.
3. In 1955, at age 18, Moore married Richard Carleton Meeker and within six weeks she was pregnant with her only child, Richard Jr., who was born on July 3, 1956.
4. In 1961, at the age of 25, Moore made her film debut in the Charles Bronson aviation drama, X-15.
5. That same year Carl Reiner cast Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show as Van Dyke’s energetic on-screen wife, Laura Petrie. The beloved sitcom aired for five seasons and won Moore an Emmy award. “I know this will never happen again,” Moore said at the time. (Note: She ultimately received a total of six Emmy Awards throughout her career)
6. Moore and her husband Meeker divorced in 1961. The following year Moore married Grant Tinker, a television executive.
7. In 1970, Moore and Tinker successfully pitched a sitcom centered around Moore to CBS. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a groundbreaking half-hour sitcom starring Moore as Mary Richards, the associate producer of a network news show. The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a touchpoint of the Women’s Movement because it was one of the first programs on television to show an independent working woman.
8. Moore wrote two memoirs throughout her life. After All was released in 1995 and acknowledged that she was a recovering alcoholic. The next memoir, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes was released in 2009 and focused on living with type 1 diabetes.
9. Moore won a Tony Award for her performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a Broadway hit in 1980. That same year she received an Oscar nomination for her role in Ordinary People, but she lost the Best Actress trophy to Sissy Spacek for her role in Coal Miner’s Daughter.
10. Sadly, that same year (1980), saw the death of her only child, 24-year-old Richard, due to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.
11. Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981. She married Dr. Robert Levine on November 23, 1983, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City and remained married to him for the rest of her life.
12. In May 2002, a bronze statue was unveiled in Minneapolis, where The Mary Tyler Moore Show took place. The statue depicts Moore’s iconic hat toss from the show’s opening sequence.