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Remembering Mary

Legendary television actress Mary Tyler Moore dead at 80

Image: Everett Collection

Mary Tyler Moore, the groundbreaking television actress who paved the way for women on television, passed away today at 80.

The actress is best remembered for her roles as Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show during the 1970s and Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show during the 1960s.

During the course of her long career, Moore appeared in many television series, Broadway plays and films, including 1980’s Ordinary People, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

Moore first entered show business at the age of 17, dancing in appliance commercials that aired during the 1950s series Ozzie and Harriet. Her first regular television role came in 1957 when she played a mysterious telephone receptionist on Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

Moore also guest starred on the detective series Johnny Staccato and found work on a variety of television series and films during the late 1950s and early 1960s.  

But Moore’s big break came in 1961, when Carl Reiner cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show. A runaway success, the series ran for five seasons and garnered multiple Emmys. Moore won an Emmy for her portrayal of Laura Petrie.

In 1970, Moore and her then-husband, Grant Tinker, successfully pitched the idea for The Mary Tyler Moore Show to CBS. The series was a huge success and won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row: 1975, 1976 and 1977. With 29 Emmy Awards over the course of seven seasons, the show also held the record for the most wins for any series until 2002. 

Furthermore, Moore's eponymous show is seen as a benchmark of the women’s movement for its serious depiction of working women at a time when television depicted them mainly as housewives and secretaries.

Moore appeared in several Broadway plays throughout her life. She starred in Whose Life Is It Anyway? in 1980 with James Naughton and Sweet Sue in 1988. Moore earned a Tony Award for her work on the former.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Moore made numerous guest appearances on television, including roles on Ellen, That ‘70s Show and Hot in Cleveland.

Moore leaves behind a vast legacy that will never be duplicated, inspiring everyone from Tina Fey to Oprah Winfrey.

The cause of death has not been reported at this time. She's survived by her husband, Robert Levine.

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