ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

Legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away today in Connecticut at age 80. The news was confirmed by her longtime publicist, Mara Buxbaum, who released an official statement:

“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.”

Moore and Dick Van Dyke in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
Moore and Dick Van Dyke in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

Moore truly was a groundbreaker in many ways. Her breakout role of Laura Petrie, wife to 's Rob Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show, defied the conventions of the demure, '50s-era housewife. Her signature style of Capri pants was a look that defied the dress-and-pearls combo of most TV wives of the time. In a 2004 interview with TV Guide, Moore said it was something she fought for:

"I said, 'Women don't wear full-skirted dresses to vacuum in.' CBS said, 'You know, we're afraid that housewives are going to be a little annoyed because she looks so good in pants.' So they made Carl promise not to let me wear pants in more than one scene. We went along with that for about three episodes, and then finally, I was just wearing the pants. We got the absolution of men everywhere and women kind of breathed a sigh of relief, too, and said, 'Hey, that's right. That's what we wear.'"

Mary lands the job in Season 1 of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
Mary lands the job in Season 1 of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

She then went on to defy convention again by playing the unmarried and childless career girl Mary Richards in her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A pioneer for feminism and progressiveness, her series tackled generally taboo subjects like addiction, adultery, homosexuality, equal pay for women, and sex - both in marriage and outside of it. It's largely considered to be one of the most influential TV shows of all time. In the span of a decade, Moore won five Emmys for her performance in both shows (she would later win one more for 1993 TV special Stolen Babies).

Moore was also a force to be reckoned with behind the camera. Along with producing The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her production company, MTM Productions, also went on to produce The Bob Newhart Show and spinoffs Rhoda and Lou Grant, among others.

Moore in 1980's 'Ordinary People' [Credit: Paramount]
Moore in 1980's 'Ordinary People' [Credit: Paramount]

While Moore was best known for her work in television, she dabbled in Broadway, appearing in Thoroughly Modern Millie and the musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Her performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway? won her a special Tony award.

She also gained recognition in movies, with a powerful, against-type performance as an overbearing matriarch in 's Oscar-winning Ordinary People, which netted her an Oscar nomination in 1981.

But the funny, fearless women she portrayed on screen belied the difficulties she had in her personal life. In her 1995 memoir After All, she admitted to being an alcoholic. Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, her second memoir released in 2009 was an honest and candid account of what it was like to live with Type-1 diabetes. Having been diagnosed when she was a young woman in her 20s, Moore went on to be a tireless advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation as the face of the foundation for years.

In 2002, a statue of Moore was unveiled in downtown Minneapolis depicting her character of Mary Richards in the iconic moment from the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where she throws her hat into the air.

In 2012, finally won the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed upon her by her beloved co-star and friend, Van Dyke.

Moore is survived by her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine.


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