American TV pioneer Mary Tyler Moore, best known for The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Tyler Moore, has died 80.
A statement read: “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.”
Tributes have poured in for the star whose presence on screen, and landmark work off-screen, influenced a generation of women and Americans.
Variety notes she transformed the image of women on television first as Van Dyke’s sexy, vulnerable wife Laura Petrie and then as single career girl Mary Richards in her own series. She combined wholesomeness and sex appeal with cracker-jack comedic timing. Described today as ‘America’s sweetheart’, and ‘grace personified,’ to a nation she was simply known as “Mary.”
Moore was also a powerhouse producer via her MTM production company with then-husband Grant Tinker, producing her own series as well as The Bob Newhart Show and spinoff series Rhoda and Lou Grant, and later Hill Street Blues, WKRP In Cincinatti and St. Elsewhere.
Her role as Laura Petrie, the suburban wife of comedy writer Rob Petrie, also represented a step forward for the portrayal of women on television. Though they maintained separate beds, the Petries otherwise shared an active, romantic marital life. And unlike Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy, Van Dyke’s character was not threatened by his wife’s talents or her intelligence.
Film credits included Thoroughly Modern Millie, Flirting With Disaster, Against the Current and Ordinary People which landed her an Oscar nomination.
Mary Tyler Moore focused heavily on the central character’s work life. As a single woman, Mary Richards, carving out a life for herself in Minneapolis. Moore was the pragmatic and delightfully vulnerable centre of a strong ensemble cast that included Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Betty White, and Ted Knight.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show won the Emmy for comedy show three years in a row, was named as one of the most influential TV shows of all time on numerous lists, and was one of the first shows to tackle issues including equal pay for women, divorce, infidelity, homosexuality, premarital sex, and infertility. Moore’s character even recovers from an addiction to sleeping pills during the show.
Other TV credits included Miss Lettie and Me, First You Cry, Lincoln, Finnegan Begin Again, Heartsounds, Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6, New York News, King of the Hill, Thriller, The Naked Truth, That ’70s Show, Lipstick Jungle, and Hot in Cleveland.
In 2012 Moore received the SAG lifetime achievement award from Dick Van Dyke.
“She was grace personified. She could never take a wrong step,” Carl Reiner said. “The fact that she started out as a dancer was indicative of everything she did after that. Her grace was unmistakable. I saw it the first time she walked into my office.”
Ellen DeGeneres: “Mary Tyler Moore changed the world for all women. I send my love to her family.”
Dan Rather: “I’m deep in regret about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. What an actress. What a woman. What a person. Always gracious, filled w/good humor”
Stephen Fry: “Rehearsing on the #MaryTylerMoore stage today. A minute’s silence as we remembered 1 of the true greats of TV comedy”
Ed Asner: “#marytylermoore my heart goes out to you and your family. Know that I love you and believe in your strength.”
OprahWinfreyNetwork: “Hollywood has truly lost an icon. Saddened to hear of the passing of #MaryTylerMoore”
Marie Osmnd: “Mary Tyler Moore paved the way for many female actresses in the ’70s. We’re gonna make it after all. ?? #RIP #MaryTylerMoore”
Viola Davis: “Thanks for the first real image of a woman being independent, funny & vulnerable. Thank you for changing the face of TV, #MaryTylerMoore!”
Maureen McCormick: “So sad my hero #MaryTylerMoore has passed! She meant so much to me! Iconic,brilliant,full of grace! Love you forever?”
Marlee Maitlin; “TV Icon and groundbreaker #MaryTylerMoore has passed. She broke through our TV screens and showed that a powerful woman can be funny. RIP.”