Mary Tyler Moore, the star of hit US TV series The Mary Tyler Moor Show has died, according to her publicist

Mary Tyler Moore, the star of TV’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show whose comic realism helped revolutionise the depiction of women on the small screen, has died.

She passed away, aged 80, on Wednesday with her husband and friends nearby, her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said.

Actress Mary Tyler Moore arrives at a memorial service for actor Christopher Reeve, at the Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York City, USA. (Rich Lee/PA Archive/PA Images)
Actress Mary Tyler Moore arrives at a memorial service for actor Christopher Reeve, at the Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York City, USA. (Rich Lee/PA Archive/PA Images)

 

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 over the years and was nominated for an Oscar for her 1980 portrayal of an affluent mother whose son is accidentally killed in Ordinary People.

Mary Tyler Moore arrives for the Paramount Pictures 90th Anniversary party in Los Angeles.
Mary Tyler Moore arrives for the Paramount Pictures 90th Anniversary party in Los Angeles.

 

She had battled diabetes for many years. In 2011, she underwent surgery to remove a benign tumour on the lining of her brain.

Moore’s first major TV role was on the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, in which she played the young homemaker wife of Van Dyke’s character, comedy writer Rob Petrie, from 1961-66.

 

Her chemistry with Van Dyke was unmistakeable. Decades later, he spoke warmly of the chaste but palpable off-screen crush they shared during the show’s run.

They also appeared together in several TV specials over the years and in 2003, co-starred in a PBS production of the play The Gin Game.

 

But it was as Mary Richards, the plucky Minneapolis TV news producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), that she truly made her mark.

At a time when women’s liberation was catching on worldwide, her character brought to TV audiences an independent, 1970s career woman.

The series ran for seven seasons and won 29 Emmys, a record that stood for a quarter century until Frasier broke it in 2002.

 

Mary Richards ‘certainly was never a character that I had to develop when we were doing the show,’ Moore said in a 1995 interview with The Associated Press. ‘Everything I did was by the seat of the pants. I reacted to every written situation the way I would have in real life.’

She likened being linked with that role to ‘growing up with a mother who is a very famous actress. There are all kinds of wonderful perks that go with it, and then there are little resentments, too.

“My life is inextricably intertwined with Mary Richards’, and probably always will be,” she said.

In 2012, Moore received the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award.

On the big screen, Moore’s appearances were less frequent. She was a 1920s flapper in the hit 1967 musical Thoroughly Modern Millie and a nun who falls for Elvis Presley in Change Of Habit in 1969.

She turned to serious drama in 1980′s Ordinary People, playing an affluent, bitter mother who loses a son in an accident. The film won the Oscar for best picture and best director for Robert Redford, and it earned Moore an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.

Moore endured personal tragedy in real life, too. The same year Ordinary People came out, her only child, Richard, who’d had trouble in school and with drugs, accidentally shot himself at 24. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, died at 21 from a combination of a painkillers and alcohol.

In her 1995 autobiography After All, she admitted she helped her terminally ill brother try to take his own life by feeding him ice cream laced with a deadly overdose of drugs. The attempt failed, and her 47-year-old brother, John, died three months later in 1992 of kidney cancer.

Moore herself lived with juvenile diabetes for some 40 years and told of her struggle in her 2009 book, Growing Up Again. She also spent five weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 for alcohol abuse, writing that they ‘transformed my life — and gave me a chance to start growing up — even at my advanced age … of 45.’

 

Moore was born in 1936 in Brooklyn; the family moved to California when she was around eight years old.

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.