Mary Tyler Moore, who first achieved legendary television status on The Dick Van Dyke Show as his wife Laura, then skyrocketed to even greater heights with her iconic protagonist on the eponymous The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then rose to even more dizzying heights as the Oscar-nominated wife in Ordinary People, has died at 80.
Moore's representative told PEOPLE: “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. 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.”
Moore had suffered from A Type 1 diabetes for decades; she was diagnosed at the age of 33. In 2009 she told PEOPLE, “I thought I’d have to recline on a chaise the rest of my life . . . there have been challenges, but I’ve triumphed.” In May 2011 she underwent elective surgery to remove a benign tumor of the lining tissue of the brain. She told The New York Times in early 2012, “I do have problems with my eyes, one eye in particular, and if I fall, I generally break a bone."
Moore was an outspoken advocate for animal rights and juvenile diabetes research. In the 1970's. she and her husband at the time, Grant Tinker helped create Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant and Hill Street Blues.
She won a special Tony Award for her Broadway role in Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Moore was only 17 when she married a 27-year-old food broker named Richard Meeker; then bore a son 11 months later; divorcing Meeker when Richie was six. She married Tinker six months later, who had four children of his own.
As PEOPLE noted: "The heavy workload of both parents left little time for their children. 'I demanded a lot of Richie,' Moore later admitted. 'I was responsible for a lot of alienation.' Their relationship grew strained as Richie grew up and rebelled, and for a long period mother and son were estranged. They did reconcile, and Richie even began landing some small acting roles on TV. But in a 1980 accident, Richie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 24. 'I have never seen Mary so distraught,' MTM colleague Gavin MacLeod told PEOPLE."
Moore received over 6,000 letters of condolence; she answered them all by hand. She wrote of her battles with alcoholism in her 1995 memoir After All,and discussed her diabetes in 2009’s Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes.
She is survived by her husband of 33 years, Dr. Robert Levine.
Here are two of the most famous, classic clips of the extraordinarily gifted actress: First the comic, then the dramatic: