Mary Tyler Moore Was As Graceful On Camera As She Was Off It

Hear Legendary Hollywood Producer Shelly Saltman’s Thoughts On Mary Tyler Moore

Actress Mary Tyler Moore, who was a television, movie and Broadway star died today. Moore was 80 years old and the announcement came from her long time spokesperson Mara Buxbaum.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Her most important role was on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” debuted in 1970 and starred the actress as Mary Richards, a single 30-something career woman at a Minneapolis TV station. The series was hailed by feminists and fans alike as the first modern woman’s sitcom.

Moore, made her   Laura Petrie, the wife on the “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which ran for five seasons beginning in 1961.

The show was created by long time comedy writer Carl Reiner. He was looking for just the right person to act next to song and dance man Dick Van Dyke. Reiner, auditioned more than two dozen actresses before Moore’s reading marked her as the only one who could play Laura.

In a recent interview on the TBS Conan O’Brien Show Reiner talked about what happened when he realized that Moore was perfect for the role. “I grabbed the top of her head and I said ‘Come with me,'” Reiner told O’Brien. “I walked her down the hall to [Show producer Sheldon Leonard] and said ‘I found her!'”

Moore was born in Brooklyn, New York, to clerk George Tyler Moore and his wife, Marjorie.

When she was still a young girl the family, which included her two younger siblings, moved to Los Angeles. Moore would later reveal that her mother was an alcoholic which caused the household to be chaotic.

Moore began her career as a dancer and in the 1950s landed her first TV role, as dancing elf Happy Hotpoint, on a series of Hotpoint appliances TV commercials which ran during The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television show.

Her dancer legs led to her being cast as Sam, the sexy secretary, on the TV show Richard Diamond, Private Detective in 1957. In the role, Moore’s legs were shown, but never her face.

She would quickly become America’s sweetheart in 1961 on The Dick Van Dyke Show, where she became a household name.

The role earned her two Emmys.

After that show ended in 1966 Moore looked to working more on the big screen, including opposite Elvis in the 1969 film Change of Habit.

The next year The Mary Tyler Moore Show, premiered. The opening sequence, featuring Moore twirling and tossing her cap, became iconic. The show ended in 1977, but spurred several spin offs including Rhoda, and The Lou Grant Show.

On the personal side in 1962 Moore married CBS executive, Grant Tinker and they created one of most successful production companies of all time.

While their union didn’t produce any children, it did give birth to television production company MTM Enterprises, which produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as such acclaimed series as The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, ran seven seasons and won 29 Emmys, a record that stood for a quarter century until “Frasier” broke it in 2002.

Moore endured personal tragedy in real life, too. The same year “Ordinary People” came out, her only child, Richard, who’d had trouble in school and with drugs, accidentally shot himself at 24. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, died at 21 from a combination of a painkillers and alcohol.

In her 1995 autobiography “After All,” Moore admitted she helped her terminally ill brother try to commit suicide by feeding him ice cream laced with drugs. It failed and her brother John, died three months later in 1992 of kidney cancer.

Moore herself lived with juvenile diabetes for some 40 years and told of her struggle in her 2009 book, “Growing Up Again.” She also spent five weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 for alcohol abuse, writing that they “transformed my life — and gave me a chance to start growing up — even at my advanced age … of 45.”

She served as chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, supported embryonic stem cell research and was active in animal rights causes.

In 1983, Moore married cardiologist Robert Levine, who survives her. Her marriage to Tinker lasted from 1962 to 1981. Before that, she was married to Dick Meeker from 1955 to 1961.


Quotes used in this story came from ASSOICATED PRESS and the video from ABC NEWS.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.