Mary Tyler Moore proved to be a timeless classic in humor
, and full of surprises. From her television debut to a TV sitcom
of her own, she showed there was no limit in the world
Quite The Youngster
Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Southern California. Mary started out being trained as a dancer, and was dancing on top kitchen appliances as the little elf "Happy Hotpoint" that appeared on commercials between the "Ozzie and Harriet Show" in 1955 before she graduated from high school. She did have a few more smaller roles in the TV shows "Bachelor Father" and "Stever Canyon" in 1958. Her first regular, although only three months long was a secretary in "Richard Diamond, Private Detective". She ended up leaving due to only her legs and voice were the only thing that was focused on. Before she made it big, she had her next few roles in a few popular dramatic television series "77 Sunset Strip" (1958), "Hawaiian Eye" (1959), "Thriller (1960), "The Millionaire" (1960), and "Surfside 6" (1960).
First (of many) Big Steps
Mary moved on to get her very first big break of playing the cute ("and often frazzled") Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1961. The show ran from 1961 to 1966, and over the course of those 6 years, she won two Emmy Awards for her great performance. However, when the series ended, she went though a real low point in her career that lasted for four years, regardless of her playing in the Broadway show "Breakfast at Tiffany's" the film "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in a supporting role, and even "Change of Habit" with Elvis Presley. Mary though, was in for a surprise due to what would soon fall to her feet after appearing in a 1969 TV special with Dick Van Dyke.
Making a Name for Herself
After her showing on the TV special with Dick Van Dyke, a few network executives thought that it might be a good idea to consider her for a sitcom of her own. Then, without wasting any time and less than a year later, Mary Tyler Moore was playing the role of Mary Richards in her very own show "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" that ran for seven years (1970-1977) - she now had reached her peak of popularity. Mary Richards would be portrayed as the average "girl-next-door" working in a Minneapolis, Minnesota TV station. This part brought Mary to win three more Emmy Awards, and even the special award as Series Actress of the Year in 1974. With this role, Mary successfully captured the hearts of America.
After the series ended, Mary went back to playing more dramatic roles including:
A Few Hardships
Just like in the show "Ordinary People" where Mary played a character what was having trouble dealing with the loss of one of her sons, Mary was facing the same thing in real-life. Mary lost her 24-year old son in 1980 due to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, the same year the film was released. The pressure overwhelmed Mary and she finally checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic to deal with her social drinking problem four years later in 1984, saying that consuming alcohol was affecting her health due to being a life long diabetic.
Still Well Loved
Mary still had more to come, and won her seventh Emmy Award in 1992 for a made-for-TV movie "Stolen Babies", a movie about baby brokers. In 1996 she appeared with Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette in "Flirting With Disaster" and then a year later in "Keys to Tulsa" with Eric Stoltz and James Spader. She is also the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and elected to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals board.
Mary was married to her first husband Dick Meeker from 1955 to 1961, then her second husband Grant Tinker (who was a producer) from 1962 to 1981 and went on to start MTM Productions with him. Lastly, she married Dr. Robert Levine who is fifteen years younger than her in 1983.
Editor's note: Mary Tyler Moore died January 25, 2017, at the age of 80, after contracting pneumonia.
- Personal Knowledge