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Who is Mary Tyler Moore?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Mary Tyler Moore was born 29 December 1936 in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York. She captivated television audiences as Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke show from 1961-1966 and as Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970-1977. The actress also appeared in many movies and has won three Emmys, one Golden Globe and was inducted into The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall Of Fame in 1987.

Moore made her television debut at 19 years old in 1955 as "Happy Hotpoint." Happy was a superimposed, pointy-eared pixie who was shown skating in an ice cube tray and dancing out of an oven in commercials that aired during The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Six years later, she got her big break as Dick Van Dyke's co-star on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The Dick Van Dyke Show featured Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as married couple Rob and Laura Petrie. The situation comedy, which was produced by Carl Reiner, who also played Alan Brady, Rob's boss, was on air from 1961 to 1966. Moore was noted for starting the trend of women wearing Capri pants as the character of Laura wore them because of Mary's insistence to Reiner that the dresses, heels and pearls approach used in the television programs of the day was unrealistic for the modern woman.

After the Dick Van Dyke Show ended, Mary Tyler Moore began appearing in movies such as Thoroughly Modern Millie with Julie Andrews in 1967 and Change of Habit with Elvis Presley in 1970. Many of her movies also featured her skills as a dancer, but it wasn't until her next television show, Mary Tyler Moore, also known as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, that she would enjoy the success she had once had on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

The series went on the air in September 1970 and ran seven seasons, to September 1977, for a total of 168 episodes. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the first television shows to have a female lead who was an independent career woman. The character, Mary Richards, was a television news producer who rented her own apartment.

After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended in 1977, Moore made more films and, this time around, the films gave her more dramatic parts to play. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Beth in Ordinary People, starring opposite Donald Sutherland, in 1980. Moore also received acclaim as Mary Todd Lincoln in Gore Vidal's Lincoln, a TV movie, in 1988.

Her autobiography, After All, was published in 1995. She gives a candid account of her life, from her early acting aspirations to the tragic suicide of her son. Mary Tyler Moore, herself severely diabetic, is a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association.

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