She Really Did Turn The World On With A Smile. Our Tribute To Mary Tyler Moore.

tribute to mary tyler moore

Legendary screen and stage actress Mary Tyler Moore has passed away at the age of 80. Mary Tyler Moore’s television and movie roles represented multiple female archetypes – all of which she played with aplomb. She embodied independence, style, smarts and vulnerability to millions of viewers everywhere.

Tribute to Mary Tyler Moore

tribute to mary tyler moore

Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Marjorie (Hackett) and George Tyler Moore, a clerk. Her maternal grandparents were English immigrants, and her father was of English, Irish, and German descent. Her family moved to California when she was eight years old. The oldest of three siblings, she attended a Catholic high school and married upon her graduation, in 1955. Her only child, Richie, was born soon after.

Mary Tyler Moore, high school yearbook photo

I could write pages and pages about her but instead I’ll just share with you the more prominent roles in her career, some of her pertinent personal passions and lots of great photos that made her the memorable and lovable Mary we all love.

mary tyler moore photos


As Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966), she introduced us to pedal pushers and “Oh Rob!” The witty writing and talented ensemble cast propelled her to stardom and earned her her first Emmy.

Mary and Dick as Rob and Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show

As Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977), she introduced us to hat-tossing, female independence and ‘spunk.’

Mary’s hat-tossing in the opening of the Mary Tyler Moore Show

Moving to Minneapolis after a failed relationship, she gets work at newsroom WJM-TV and her own apartment. It was one of the earliest TV portrayals of a woman who was happy and successful on her own rather than simply being a man’s wife.

As Mary Richards in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970

The show also introduced us to Betty White’s hilarious character Sue Ann Nivens as well as Valerie Harper (as Rhoda Morgenstern) and Cloris Leachman (as Phyllis Lindstrom), which were both spun off into their own series.

Cloris Leachman , Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1974.

Mary then went on to wow us with a serious performance as the icy mother in Ordinary People for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and her turn as the Mother-In-Law Pearl Coplin in Flirting With Disaster reminded us that she is an equally adept comedienne.

Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People, 1980
Mary showing off her real breasts as Pearl Coplin in Flirting With Disaster

In her career, Mary won countless awards and honors.

Mary Tyler Moore and Suzanna Hay in Whose Life is it Anyway?

Most notably six Primetime Emmy Awards and two Tony Awards – a Special Tony Award for her appearance in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, and a second Tony as producer for 1985’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which was named Best Revival.

Emmy winners Ed Asner, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight in 1976.
Mary Tyler Moore accepts the SAG lifetime Achievement Award, 2012

Moore and her second of three husbands, Grant Tinker, founded MTM Enterprises, Inc. in 1969. The company produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show and several other television shows and films. It also included a record label, MTM Records.

Mary and Grant Tinker at their Beverly Hills Home

The child of an alcoholic, Mary was one herself and spoke about her experience openly in her 1995 biography After All. Afflicted with type 1 Diabetes, she later penned another biography Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes in which she opened up about her life with diabetes.

Mary at The TVLand Awards in 2006, photo by Kevin Winters

Mary suffered several painful losses in her life. Her sister Elizabeth died of a drug overdose (ruled a suicide) in 1978 and her brother died of cancer (after attempting assisted suicide with Mary as the assistant). Moore’s own troubled son Richie shot and killed himself in what was officially ruled an accident in 1980.

Mary Tyler Moore with son Richard, 1965 (photo by Curt Gunther)

Mary became an active spokesman as the International Chairman of JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

In 2007, in honor of Moore’s dedication to the Foundation, JDRF created the “Forever Moore” research initiative which works on translating basic research advances into new treatments and technologies for those living with type 1 diabetes.

She was also a staunch animal rights activist and a vegetarian.

And now, just some terrific photos of her through the years.

Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Mary in Thoroughly Modern Millie, 1967

Mary poses with a portrait of her in 1970

Mary Tyler Moore 1975 | © Pleasurephoto Room
Mary Tyler Moore and her husband Dr. Robert Levine (photo Getty Images), 1985
Moore at the 40th Primetime Emmy Awards (1988) Photo by Alan Light
Mary Tyler Moore, 1990
Mary with with Gene Wilder, 1993
Mary Tyler Moore at the SAG awards, 2011
Mary Tyler Moore, 2015

I’ll leave you with a little tribute video and the lyrics to the opening song for the Mary Tyler Moore show because they couldn’t be more apropos.

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all
You’re gonna make it after all
How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone
But it’s time you started living
It’s time you let someone else do some giving
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You might just make it after all
You might just make it after all

There will never be another Mary Tyler Moore.

images and information courtesy of Imdb, Wikipedia, People magazine and Getty images