Not only did she turn the world on with her smile, she was a role model for generations of women.
Mary Tyler Moore, the star of TV’s beloved “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” whose comic realism helped revolutionize the depiction of women on the small screen, died Wednesday with her husband and friends nearby, her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said. She was 80.
Moore gained fame in the 1960s as the frazzled wife Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” In the 1970s, she created one of TV’s first career-woman sitcom heroines in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
She won seven Emmy awards and was nominated for an Oscar for her 1980 portrayal of an affluent mother whose son is accidentally killed in “Ordinary People.”
She battled diabetes for many years. In 2011, she underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor on the lining of her brain.
On “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” she displayed her unerring gift for comedy and showed off her dancer’s legs in Capri pants; she was a dream wife and mother, but not perfect. Viewers identified with her plaintive cry to her husband: “Ohhhh, Robbbb!”
She really made her mark, though, as the plucky Minneapolis TV news producer on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77).
At a time when women’s liberation was catching on worldwide, her character brought to TV audiences an independent, 1970s career woman. Other than Marlo Thomas’ 1960s sitcom character “That Girl,” who at least had a steady boyfriend, there were few precedents.
Mary Richards was comfortable being single in her 30s, and while she dated, she wasn’t desperate to get married. She sparred affectionately with her gruff boss, Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner and addressed always as “Mr. Grant.”
Millions agreed with the show’s theme song that she could “turn the world on with her smile.”
In 1992, Moore received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A decade later, a life-size bronze statue went on display in Minneapolis, depicting her tossing her trademark tam into the air as she did in the opening credits of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Her fans included Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey, who counted her as a positive influence.
Colleagues publicly mourned her loss:
Carl Reiner, creator of the “Dick Van Dyke Show,” said, “She’ll last forever, as long as there’s television. Year after year, we’ll see her face in front of us,” while Robert Redford, who directed her in the against type part in “Ordinary People,” said, “The courage she displayed in taking on a role,(”Ordinary People”), darker than anything she had ever done, was brave and enormously powerful.”
Asner tweeted, ““A great lady I loved and owe so much to has left us. I will miss her. I will never be able to repay her for the blessings that she gave me.”
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is 59. … Guitarist Eddie Van Halen is 62. … Musician Lucinda Williams is 64. … Actor David Strathairn is 68.