Mary Tyler Moore, One of Television’s Greatest Actresses

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore died today at 80. Her legacy will last forever.

Mary Tyler Moore was, is, and always will be a television icon. Famous for re-inventing the image of the modern woman for an entire generation, Moore’s influence spanned decades. Facets of her persona and struggle appeared in such varied television women as Murphy Brown, Rachel Green, and Liz Lemon. Moore died today at the age of 80 due to cardiopulmonary arrest after contracting pneumonia.

Her most famous role was her Emmy-winning turn on The Mary Tyler Moore Show which aired from 1970 to 1977. Moore co-produced the iconic series with her second husband, Grant Tinker. Tinker died November 28, 2016.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Mary Tyler Moore decided at an early age to be a dancer which led to early appearances in 50’s commercials. Her first regular TV role was an relatively unseen – save her legs – performance on Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Her biggest break happened in 1961 when Carl Reiner cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show. The role won Moore her first Emmy Award. During her acceptance speech, she famously said, “I know this will never happen again.”

It would. She would receive 15 Emmy nominations over her long career in television, winning 7 times. She stands with Candice Bergen and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for most Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series wins. Moore also received Golden Globe and Tony Awards for her work. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1980’s Ordinary People.

Few women in television touched as many as Mary Tyler Moore. Aside from her decades of charity and political work, she helped usher portrayals of women in television from standard mother roles to women who prided themselves on their careers. Looking at Moore, millions of women found courage and inspiration to reach for something greater than the televised images of women in the 1950’s. After all, Mary Tyler Moore was indeed the woman who could “turn the world on with her smile.”

Without that smile, America’s television sets seem a little bit darker today.

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