Mary Tyler Moore, TV’s original modern woman, dies at 80

Mary Tyler Moore was a pioneer for modern women’s portrayal on TV.

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SiriusXM Editor
January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore accepts the Life Achievement award at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday Jan. 29, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mary Tyler Moore — celebrated for her groundbreaking portrayal of an independent, working woman on her eponymous TV show — has died.

The actress died Wednesday, her rep told Entertainment Weekly. She was 80.

“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,” said Mara Buxbaum. “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.”

After bit parts on television and in films, Moore became a star in 1961 when she was cast as the titular character’s wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show. But she staked her own claim on the industry with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran from 1970 to 1977 and won 29 Emmys. The series portrayed Moore as a single producer at a local TV station alongside Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Betty White.

“Mary Tyler Moore was — which is hard to even say out loud, ‘was’ — a television icon. And more than that, she was one of the most gracious people,” Hoda Kotb said after learning the sad news on Today Show Radio (Ch. 108). “She was on the Today Show not long ago, I don’t really remember when, but she was there not too long ago, and she was the kind of person who was so sweet to every single person in the room. And you can tell a lot about somebody by how they treat everybody.”

Moore won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, accepting the statuette from Van Dyke and telling the story of how she decided to use “Moore” (both her and her dad’s middle name) as her stage moniker because there were already too many Mary Moores registered with the organization.

“‘Mary Tyler Moore.’ Sounded right. So I wrote it out on the form, and it looked right. It was right,” she said. “SAG was happy, my father was happy, and tonight, after having the privilege of working in this business among the most creative and talented people imaginable, I too am happy after all.”

Moore had long suffered from diabetes. She is survived by her husband Robert Levine.

For memories of Moore and commentary on her legacy, listen to SiriusXM Entertainment Weekly Radio (Ch. 105).

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