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Mary Tyler Moore (born December 29, 1936) is an American actress, primarily known for her roles in television sitcoms.

Moore is best known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977), in which she starred as Mary Richards, a 30-something single woman who worked as a local news producer in Minneapolismarker, and for her earlier role as Dick Van Dyke's wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966). She also appeared in a number of films, most notably 1980's Ordinary People, in which she played a role that was the polar opposite of the television characters she had portrayed, and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Moore has also been active in charity work and various political causes, particularly on behalf of Animal rights and Diabetes mellitus type 1.

Life and career

Early life

Moore, eldest of two siblings, was born in the Brooklyn Heightsmarker section of Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker, the daughter of Marjorie (née Hackett) and George Tyler Moore, a clerk. Her maternal grandparents were natives of Englandmarker. Her family moved to Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker when she was eight years old (some sources say 10). She attended Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic school in Brooklyn, St. Ambrose School in Los Angelesmarker on Fairfax, and the Immaculate Heart High Schoolmarker on Los Feliz Boulevard in Hollywood, Californiamarker.


At the age of 17, Moore aspired to be a dancer. She started her career as "Happy Hotpoint", a tiny elf dancing on Hotpoint appliances in TV commercials during the 1950s series Ozzie and Harriet. She filmed 39 TV spots in five days, ultimately earning about $6,000 from the first job of her career. Her time as "Happy Hotpoint" ended when it became difficult to conceal her pregnancy in the dancing elf costume.After All (1995 autobiography of Mary Tyler Moore). Putnam, ISBN 0-399-14091-3, p. 61-65

Moore anonymously modelled on the covers of a number of record albums and auditioned for the role of the older daughter of Danny Thomas for his long-running hit TV show, but was turned down. Much later, Thomas explained that "no daughter of mine could have that [little] nose." Moore's first regular television role was as a telephone receptionist on the show Richard Diamond, Private Detective; in that series, only her leg were shown and voice heard. About this time, she guest starred on John Cassavetes's NBC detective series Johnny Staccato. In 1960, she guest starred in two episodes, "The O'Mara's Ladies" and "All The O'Mara's Horses", of the William Bendix-Doug McClure NBC western series, Overland Trail. Several months later, she appeared in the first episode, entitled "One Blonde Too Many", of NBC one-season The Tab Hunter Show, a sitcom starring the former teen idol as a bachelor cartoonist.

In 1961, Moore appeared in several bit parts in movies and on television, including Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Six, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Steve Canyon, Hawaiian Eye, and Lock Up in 1961 where a woman named Laura helped save her from prison.

In 1961, Carl Reiner cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show, an acclaimed weekly series based on Reiner's own life and career as a writer for Sid Caesar's television variety show, telling the cast from the outset that it would run no more than five years. The show was produced by Danny Thomas's company, and Thomas himself recommended her. He remembered Mary as "the girl with three names" whom he had turned down earlier. Moore's energetic comic performances as Van Dyke's character's wife, begun at age 24 (hence she was 11 years Van Dyke's junior), made both the actress and her signature tight capri pants extremely popular, and she became internationally famous. When she won an Emmy award for her portrayal of Laura Petrie, she said, through her tears, quite incorrectly, "I know this will never happen again!"

In 1970, after having appeared earlier in a pivotal one-hour musical special called "Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman", Moore and husband Grant Tinker successfully pitched a sitcom centered on Moore to CBS. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a half-hour newsroom sitcom featuring Ed Asner as her gruff boss Lou Grant, a character that would later be spun off into an hour-long dramatic series. The premise of the single working woman's life, alternating during the program between work and home, became a television staple that would often be used in the future. After six years of ratings in the top 20, the show slipped to number #39 during its seventh season. Producers argued for its cancellation due to its falling ratings, afraid that the show's legacy might be damaged if it were renewed for another season. To the surprise of the entire cast including Mary Tyler Moore herself, it was announced that they would soon be filming their final episode. After the announcement, the series finished strongly and the final show was the most watched show during the week it aired. The series had become a touchpoint of the Women's Movement because it was one of the first to show, in a serious way, an independent working woman.

After a brief respite, Moore threw herself into a completely different genre. She attempted two failed variety series in a row: Mary, which featured David Letterman, Michael Keaton, Swoosie Kurtz and Dick Shawn in the supporting cast and lasted three episodes, which was re-tooled as The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, a backstage show within a show, with Mary portraying a TV star putting on a variety show. To arouse curiosity and nostalgic feelings, Dick Van Dyke appeared as her guest, but the program was canceled within three months. About this time, she also made a one-off musical/variety special for CBS, titled Mary's Incredible Dream, which featured John Ritter, among others. It did poorly in the ratings and, according to Moore, was never repeated and will likely never be aired again due to legal problems surrounding the show.

In the 1985-86 season, she returned to CBS in a series titled "Mary", which suffered from poor reviews, sagging ratings, and internal strife within the production crew. According to Moore, she asked CBS to pull the show, as she was unhappy with the direction of the program and the producers.

She also starred in the short-lived "warmedy", Annie McGuire, in 1988.

In the mid-1990s, she had a cameo and a guest starring role as herself on two episodes of Ellen. She subsequently also guest starred on Ellen DeGeneres's next TV show, The Ellen Show, in 2001.

In 2004, Moore reunited with her Dick Van Dyke Show castmates for a reunion "episode" called The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. In August 2005, Moore guest-starred as Christine St. George, a high-strung host of a fictional TV show on three episodes of Fox sitcom That '70s Show. Moore's scenes were shot on the same soundstage where The Mary Tyler Moore Show was filmed in the 1970s.

Moore appeared in several Broadwaymarker plays. She starred in Whose Life Is It Anyway with James Naughton, which opened on Broadwaymarker at the Royale Theatremarker on February 24, 1980 and ran for 96 performances, and in Sweet Sue, which opened at the Music Box Theatre (transferred to the Royale Theatre) on Jan. 8, 1988 and ran for 164 performances. She was the star of a new musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany's in December 1966, but the show, titled Holly Golightly, was a notorious flop that closed out-of-town before reaching Broadway. An urban legend has it that when Mary, as Holly, announced that she miscarried her baby, the audience applauded.

She appeared in previews of the Neil Simon play Rose's Dilemma at the off-Broadway Manhattan Theatre Clubmarker in December 2003 but was fired before the show opened, because she was not able to learn her lines.

During the 1980s, Moore and her production company produced five plays: Noises Off, The Octette Bridge Club, Joe Egg, Benefactors, and Safe Sex.

Moore made her film debut in 1961's X-15. She subsequently appeared in a string of 1960s films (after signing an exclusive contract with Universal Pictures), including 1967's Thoroughly Modern Millie with Julie Andrews and 1968's What's So Bad About Feeling Good? and Don't Just Stand There!. In 1969 she starred opposite Elvis Presley as a nun in Change of Habit. Moore's future television castmate Ed Asner also appeared in that film (as a cop). After that film's disappointing reviews and reception at the box office, Mary returned to television, and did not appear in another theatrical film for the next eleven years.

Moore was nominated for the Best Actress for 1980's Ordinary People. Other feature film credits include Six Weeks, Just Between Friends, Flirting with Disaster, Keys to Tulsa, Labor Pains and Cheats.

Moore has appeared in a number of telefilms, such as Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, Run a Crooked Mile, Heartsounds, The Gin Game (based on the Broadway play; it reunited her with Dick Van Dyke again), Mary and Rhoda, Lincoln (as Mary Todd Lincoln), Finnegan Begin Again, The Best Year, Miss Lettie and Me, Stolen Babies and Payback.


Moore has written two memoirs. The first, After All, released in 1995, in which she acknowledged that she is an alcoholic (ISBN 10: 0440223032). The next, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, was released on April 1, 2009, and focuses on living with type 1 diabetes (St. Martin's Press, ISBN 10: 0312376316).

Personal life

In 1955, aged 18, Mary married Richard Carlton Meeker, whom she described as "the boy next door," and within six weeks was pregnant with her only child, Richard Jr. (born July 3, 1956) (who coincidentally, was known as "Richie", also the name of her TV son on The Dick Van Dyke Show). Meeker and Moore divorced in 1961.

Moore married Grant Tinker, an NBC executive in 1962, and in 1970 they formed the television production company MTM Enterprises, which created and produced the company's first television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. MTM Enterprises would later produce popular American sitcoms and drama television series such as Rhoda and Phyllis (both spin-offs from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Hill Street Blues, and Newhart. It was later sold to Television South, an ITV Franchise holder during the 1980s. Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981.

Moore's son Richie died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1980. He was accidentally shot in the head while handling a sawed off shotgun. The gun was later taken off the market because of its "hair trigger". Just prior to his death, Moore had secured a job for him in the CBS mailroom.

She married Dr. Robert Levine on November 23, 1983 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. They met when her mother was treated by him in New York on a weekend housecall after returning from a visit to the Pope at the Vatican.

Charity work

In addition to her acting work, Moore is the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. In this role, she has used her fame to help raise funds and raise awareness of diabetes mellitus type 1, which she has, almost losing her vision and at least one limb to the disease.

In 2007, in honor of Moore's dedication to the Foundation, JDRF created the "Forever Moore" research initiative which will support JDRF's Academic Research and Development and JDRF's Clinical Development Program. The program works on translating basic research advances into new treatments and technologies for those living with type 1 diabetes.

She also adopted a Golden Retriever puppy from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue in Hudson, Massachusetts. She also is an animal rights activist and promoted her cause on the Ellen DeGeneris sitcom Ellen.She has worked for animal rights for many years. On the subject of fur, she has said, "Behind every beautiful fur, there is a story. It is a bloody, barbaric story."

She is also a co-founder of Broadway Barks, an annual animal adopt-a-thon held in New York City. Moore and friend Bernadette Peters work to make New York City a no-kill city and to promote adopting animals from shelters.

In honor of her father, George Tyler Moore, who was a life-long Civil War enthusiast, in 1995 Moore donated funds to acquire an historic structure in Shepherdstown, West Virginiamarker, for Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) to be used as a center for Civil War studies. The center, named the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War is housed in the historic Conrad Shindler house (ca. 1795), which is named in honor of her great, great, great-grandfather, who owned the structure from 1815-52. Moore also contributed to the renovation of the house used as headquarters during 1861-1862 by Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Use of the house had been offered to Jackson by its owner, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore, commander of the 4th Virginia Infantry and a great-grandfather of Mary Tyler Moore.

Moore supports embryonic stem cell research. When President George W. Bush announced that he would veto the Senate's bill supporting the research, she said, "This is an intelligent human being with a heart, and I don't see how much longer he can deny those aspects of himself."


MTM statue

In early May 2002, Moore was present as cable TV network TV Land dedicated a statue in downtown Minneapolismarker to the television character she made famous on Mary Tyler Moore. The statue is in front of the Dayton's (now Macy'smarker) department store, near the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mallmarker. It depicts the well-known moment in the show's opening credits where Mary throws her tam o'shanter cap in the air, in a freeze-frame at the end of the montage.

MTM Enterprises

Moore also founded MTM Enterprises, Inc. in 1969. This company produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show and several other television shows and films. It also included a record label, MTM Records.




Year Film Role Notes
1958 Once Upon a Horse... Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
1961 X-15 Pamela Stewart
1967 Thoroughly Modern Millie Miss Dorothy Brown
1968 What's So Bad About Feeling Good? Liz
Don't Just Stand There! Martine Randall
1969 Run a Crooked Mile Elizabeth Sutton (TV)
Change of Habit Sister Michelle Gallagher
1980 Ordinary People Beth Jarrett Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

1982 Six Weeks Charlotte Dreyfus
1986 Just Between Friends Holly Davis
1996 Flirting with Disaster Pearl Coplin Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Blue Arrow Granny Rose (voice)
1997 Keys to Tulsa Cynthia Boudreau
1998 Reno Finds Her Mom Herself
2000 Labor Pains Esther Raymond
2002 Cheats Mrs. Stark
2009 Against The Current Mom


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