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Entertainment News: TV Icon Mary Tyler Moore Dies at 80

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GREENWICH, CONN. – She was the ideal woman for two generations of TV viewers, first in the 1960s as wife Laura to comedy writer Rob Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and then in the 1970s as feminist breakthrough Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Ms. Moore died on January 25, 2016, near her home in Greenwich, Conn. She was 80.

Mary Tyler Moore always seemed to be as the right place at the right time in her TV career, redefining the role models of women on TV in her roles as Laura Petrie and Mary Richards. As the fashionable and daffy Laura on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-66) she was equal to her husband Rob, as they portrayed the TV equivalent of John and Jackie Kennedy during its run. As Mary Richards on the show with her name on it (1970-77), she went one better. She was a career woman who never seemed in a hurry to get married, and found contentment through her work and colleagues. Both shows were legendary for their sharp writing, insightful characters and warm hilarity, and they’ve played in perpetuity in syndication, and all other invented media since their first runs.

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Mary Tyler Moore in an Early Publicity Picture for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Mary Tyler Moore was born in Brooklyn Heights, New York, and her family moved to Los Angeles when she was eight years old. After graduating from high school, she decided she wanted to be a dancer, and broke out early as “Happy Hotpoint,” a dancing elf in appliance TV commercials in the 1950s. After failing to get a role as Danny Thomas’ daughter in “Make Room for Daddy,” Moore landed on “Richard Diamond, Private Detective” as a telephone receptionist, although only showing her legs.

After a number of supporting roles on various TV shows, she was remembered as the “girl with three names” by Danny Thomas when he produced “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and landed the role of Laura Petrie. After a slow start, the series became one of the most beloved of all time. After the show ended in 1966, Moore tried a film career, including portraying a nun opposite Elvis Presley in “Change of Habit” (1969). It was television that called her back, and after a well-received TV special with her old co-star Dick Van Dyke, she developed and produced “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with second husband Grant Tinker. Through seven seasons, Mary Richards may have not gotten the man, but she did get a life, inspiring many women at the time who were doing the same.

For her next act, after trying different format shows for television (“Mary”), she garnered an Academy Award nomination for her return to film in “Ordinary People” (1980), playing against type as an emotionally cold mother. She did other films through the years (“Six Weeks,” “Flirting with Disaster”) and another shot at a television series (“Annie McGuire”). She also did stage work, portraying Holly Golightly in the infamous Broadway musical flop of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1966, and had better success with “Whose Life is It Anyway” in 1980.

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Swingin’ 1960s: Mary Tyler Moore with Dick Van Dyke in ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’
Photo credit: Image Entertainment

In recent years she has battled a number of conditions related to diabetes, which was diagnosed when she was 33 years old, and friends had reported she was nearly blind and suffered heart problems due to the disease. She died in Greenwich Hospital of what her family described as “cardiopulmonary arrest, after developing pneumonia.” Mary Tyler Moore was married three times, and is survived by her third husband Robert Levine.

Mary Tyler Moore often made fun of her somewhat squeaky clean image…”There are certain things about me that I will never tell to anyone because I am a very private person. But basically what you see is who I am. I’m independent, I do like to be liked, I do look for the good side of life and people. I’m positive, I’m disciplined, I like my life in order, and I’m neat as a pin. I love order and discipline. God, I sound like a Nazi don’t I?” And also this thought from a woman who lost her only child – Richard Meeker – when he was in his twenties, and fought a disease for most of her life…”You can’t be brave if you only had wonderful things happen to you.”

Source material for this article was from Wikipedia, NewYorkTimes.com and IMDB. Mary Tyler Moore, 1936-2017.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Writer, Editorial Coordinator
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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