US television icon Mary Tyler Moore dead at 80
LOS ANGELES: Legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore, who delighted a generation of Americans with her energetic comic performances and broke barriers with her iconic portrayal of a single career woman, died Wednesday after years of ill health. She was 80.
Moore´s eponymous sitcom ran for seven seasons in the 1970s and was named by Time Magazine as one of 17 shows that “changed television.”
She died in hospital in Connecticut, according to media reports, after battling diabetes for years and undergoing brain surgery in 2011.
“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,” her longtime representative Mara Buxbaum told AFP in a statement.
“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.”
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was radical in its time — featuring a single woman, living on her own, and chasing her dream as a television reporter.
It also spawned numerous spin-offs for its popular supporting cast of quirky, slightly neurotic characters, launching Moore´s behind-the-scenes career.
As top executives of MTM Enterprises, Moore and then-husband Grant Tinker created and produced “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spinoffs, and were also responsible for hit shows including “Hill Street Blues,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Remington Steele.”
“A minute´s silence as we remembered one of the true greats of TV comedy,” tweeted actor Stephen Fry, who was rehearsing on the Hollywood stage made famous by Moore´s show.
Michael Keaton described her as “iconic, my boss, castmate and a friend” while filmmaker Kevin Smith said she was a “tireless defender of animals, and scourge of diabetes.”
“Truly she turned the world on with her smile,” he added, referring to the lyrics of her show´s theme song.
US media mogul Oprah Winfrey has said Moore was one of her early inspirations.
Winfrey said she watched her show every week as a child, and wanted “to be Mary Tyler Moore. I wanted to be Mary, I wanted to live where Mary lived.”
Moore´s first big break came in 1961, when she played spunky stay-at-home wife Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
On the big screen, Moore starred opposite Elvis Presley in “Change of Habit,” and with Julie Andrews in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
She earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Robert Redford´s searing family drama “Ordinary People.”
She also took home numerous Emmy awards for her television work and a Tony Award for a Broadway performance in “Whose Life Is It Anyway.”
Behind the scenes, Moore faced a number of personal difficulties, including an addiction to alcohol. Her only child, Richie, born during her first marriage to Richard Meeker, struggled with emotional issues and drug abuse.
He shot and killed himself in 1980, at age 24, in an incident that was officially deemed an accident.
Moore, who was born in Brooklyn and moved to California as a child, married her third husband, Robert Levine, in 1983. She was an active spokeswoman for animal rights and for diabetes, which she was diagnosed with in her 30s.