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 (1970–77), in which she starred as Mary Richards, a 30-something single woman who worked as a local news producer in Minneapolis, and for her earlier role as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–66). She also appeared in a number of films, most notably 1967's Thoroughly Modern Millie and 1980's Ordinary People, in which she played a role that was very different from the television characters she had portrayed, and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Moore has been active in charity work and various political causes, particularly the issues of animal rights and Diabetes mellitus type 1. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes early in the run of The Mary Tyler Moore Show,[1] and also dealt with alcoholism,[2] which was treated in the 1980s. In May 2011, she underwent elective brain surgery to remove a benign meningioma.[3]


 [hide*1 Early life

Early life[edit]Edit

Mary Tyler Moore was born in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, to George Tyler Moore, a clerk, and his wife Marjorie (née Hackett). Her father was Roman Catholic and her mother a Catholic convert.[citation needed] Mary was the eldest of three siblings,[4] and their home was in Flushing, Queens.[5] Her maternal grandparents were immigrants from England. Her paternal great-grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore, owned the house which is now Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters Museum.[6] Moore's family moved to Los Angeles when she was eight years old. She attended Saint Rose of Lima, a Catholic school in Brooklyn, followed by St. Ambrose School (Los Angeles) and the Immaculate Heart High School (Los Feliz).[7][8]



Early appearances[edit]Edit

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.[9] She appeared in 39 TV commercials in five days, ultimately earning about $6,000 from her first job.[10] Her time as "Happy Hotpoint" ended when it became difficult to conceal her pregnancy in the dancing elf costume.[9] Moore modeled anonymously 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 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 mysterious and glamorous telephone receptionist on Richard Diamond, Private Detective. To add to the mystique, her voice is heard, but only her shapely legs appear on camera.[11] 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 Ladies" and "All The O'Mara 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's one-season The Tab Hunter Show, a sitcom starring the former teen idol as a bachelor cartoonist. In 1961, Moore appeared in several big parts in movies and on television, including Bourbon Street Beat77 Sunset StripSurfside Six,Wanted: Dead or AliveSteve CanyonHawaiian EyeThriller and Lock-Up.

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)[edit]Edit

In 1961, Carl Reiner cast Moore 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 televisionvariety 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.[12] Moore's energetic comic performances as Van Dyke's character's wife, begun at age 24 (eleven 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[13] award for her portrayal of Laura Petrie, she said, "I know this will never happen again." Mary Tyler Moore later stated that she was actually 23 years old when she first starred on the Dick Van Dyke Show,[14] but had told producers that she was 25 because she heard that Dick Van Dyke had said she might be too young for the part.

[1][2]The original cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970. Top:Valerie Harper (Rhoda), Ed Asner(Lou Grant), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis). Bottom: Gavin MacLeod(Murray), Moore, Ted Knight(Ted).====The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977)[edit]====

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 CBSThe 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. Moore's show proved so popular that two other regular characters, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern and Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom, were also spun off into their own successful series. The premise of the single working woman's life, alternating during the program between work and home, became a television staple.[12][15] After six years of ratings in the top 20,[16] the show slipped to number #39 during its seventh season. Producers argued for its cancellation because of 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 1977 season would go on to win an Emmy Award[17] for Outstanding Comedy Series, to add to the awards it had won in 1975 and 1976. 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.

Later projects[edit]Edit

After a brief respite, Moore threw herself into a completely different genre. She attempted two unsuccessful series in a row: Mary, which featured David Letterman,Michael KeatonSwoosie 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.[16] 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,[18] 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 because of legal problems surrounding the show.[citation needed]

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.[19] She also starred in the short-lived Annie McGuire in 1988.[20] 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 Showcastmates for a reunion "episode" called The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.[21]

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 made a guest appearance on the season 2 premiere of Hot in Cleveland, which stars her old co-star Betty White.[22] This marked the first time that White and Moore had worked together since The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended in 1977.[23] Moore will reprise her role on Hot in Cleveland in an upcoming season four episode which will not only reunite Moore and White, but former MTM cast members Cloris LeachmanValerie Harper and Georgia Engel.


Moore appeared in several Broadway plays. She starred in Whose Life Is It Anyway with James Naughton, which opened on Broadway at the Royale Theatre on February 24, 1980, and ran for 96 performances, and in Sweet Sue, which opened at the Music Box Theatre on January 8, 1987, later transferred to the Royale Theatre, 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 in previews before opening on Broadway. In reviews of performances in Philadelphia and Boston, critics "murdered" the play in which Moore claimed to be singing with bronchial pneumonia.[24]

[3][4]Moore at the Academy Awardsin 1988

During the 1980s, Moore and her production company produced five plays: Noises OffThe Octette Bridge ClubJoe EggBenefactors, and Safe Sex.[citation needed]She appeared in previews of the Neil Simon play Rose's Dilemma at the off-Broadway Manhattan Theatre Club in December 2003 but quit the production after receiving a critical letter from Simon instructing her to "learn your lines or get out of my play".[25] Moore had been using an earpiece on stage to feed her lines to the repeatedly rewritten play.[26]


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? with George Peppard, 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, Moore returned to television, and did not appear in another feature film for eleven years. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for 1980's Ordinary People. Other feature film credits include Just Between Friends and Flirting with Disaster.

She has appeared in a number of television movies, including Like Mother, Like SonRun a Crooked MileHeartsoundsThe Gin Game (based on the Broadway play; reuniting her with Dick Van Dyke), Mary and RhodaFinnegan Begin Again.[citation needed] and Stolen Babies for which she won an Emmy Award in 1993.[27]


Moore has written two memoirs. The first, After All, released in 1995, in which she acknowledged that she is a recovering alcoholic.[28] 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 PressISBN 0-312-37631-6).[29]

MTM Enterprises[edit]Edit

Main article: MTM Enterprises

Moore and her husband Grant Tinker founded MTM Enterprises, Inc. in 1969; Moore later commented that he had named the entity after her in much the same fashion that someone might name a boat after a spouse. This company produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show and several other television shows and films. It also included a record labelMTM Records.[30] MTM Enterprises produced a variety of American sitcoms and drama television series such as RhodaLou Grant and Phyllis – all spin-offs from The Mary Tyler Moore Show – The Bob Newhart Show,The Texas WheelersWKRP in CincinnatiThe White ShadowFriends and Lovers, and Hill Street Blues, and was later sold to Television South, an ITV Franchise holder during the 1980s. The MTM logo was a short video sequence parodying the MGM logo, but with a cat meowing instead of a lion roaring.

Personal life[edit]Edit


In 1955, at age 18, she married Richard Carleton Meeker[31] whom Mary described as "the boy next door," and within six weeks she was pregnant with her only child, Richard, Jr. (born July 3, 1956). Coincidentally, he was known as "Richie," which was also the name of her TV son on The Dick Van Dyke Show.[32] Meeker and Moore divorced in 1961.[33] Moore married Grant Tinker, a CBS executive (later chairman of NBC), in 1962, and in 1970 they formed the television production company MTM Enterprises,[34] which created and produced the company's first television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981.[35] She married Robert Levine[36] on November 23, 1983, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.[37] They met when her mother was treated by him in New York City on a weekend housecall, after Moore and her mother returned from a visit to the Vatican where they had personal audience with Pope John Paul II.[38] On October 14, 1980, at the age of 24,[36] Mary's son Richie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, accidentally shooting himself in the head while handling a sawed-off shotgun. That model of gun was later taken off the market because of its "hair trigger".[39]Just before his death, Moore had secured a job for him in the CBS mailroom.

[5][6]Mary Tyler Moore presents theJDRF's Hero's Award to U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, for his role in securing federal funding for type 1 diabetes research, 2003===Charity work[edit]===

In addition to her acting work, Moore is the International Chairman of JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).[40] In this role, she has used her profile 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.[41]

She also adopted a Golden Retriever puppy from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue in Hudson, Massachusetts.[42] She is an animal rights activist and promoted her cause on the Ellen DeGeneres sitcom Ellen.[43] She has worked for animal rights for many years.[44] She has worked with Farm Sanctuary to raise awareness about the cruelty of factory farming and to promote the compassionate treatment of farm animals.[45]

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.[46]

After her work with multiple cat adoption organizations, she herself has adopted over 132 cats that live with her at her ranch.

In honor of her father, George Tyler Moore, a lifelong American Civil War enthusiast, in 1995 Moore donated funds to acquire a historic structure in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, 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 (c. 1795), which is named in honor of her great-great-great-grandfather, who owned the structure from 1815–52.[47] Moore also contributed to the renovation of the house used as headquarters during 1861–1862 by Confederate 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 Infantryand a great-grandfather of Mary Tyler Moore.[6][48]

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."[49]


During the 1960s and 1970s, Moore had a reputation as a liberal or moderate liberal; for example she endorsed President Jimmy Carter for re-election in a 1980 campaign television ad.[50] However, during a 2011 interview with former castmate Ed Asner on the O'Reilly Factor, Asner stated that Moore "has become much more conservative of late." Bill O'Reilly stated that Moore had been a major viewer of his show and described how her political views had leaned towards the right in recent years.[51] In a Parade article dated March 22, 2009, Moore identified herself as a "libertarian centrist", but does admit to frequently watching Fox News. "...when one looks at what's happened to television, there are so few shows that interest me. I do watch a lot of Fox News. I like Charles Krauthammer and Bill O'Reilly...IfMcCain had asked me to campaign for him, I would have."[52] In an interview for the 2013 PBS series Pioneers of Television, Moore states that she was "recruited" to join the feminist movement of the 1970s by Gloria Steinem but did not agree with Steinem's views. Moore said she believed that women have an important role in raising children and that she did not believe in Steinem's view that "women owe it [to themselves] to have a career."[53]

Awards and honors[edit]Edit

[7][8]The statue of Mary Tyler Moore as "Mary Richards" tossing her hat in the air at the corner of S. 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis replicates the noted opening of the Mary Tyler Moore Show

Moore has received seven Emmy Awards:

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Special – 1993
  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series – 1976
  • Actress Of The Year – series – 1974
  • Best Lead Actress In A Comedy Series – 1974
  • Outstanding Continued Performance By An Actress – 1973
  • Outstanding Continued Performance By An Actress – 1966
  • Outstanding Continued Performance By An Actress – 1964

She was also awarded three Golden Globe Awards:

  • Best Performance by an Actress In A Motion Picture – 1981
  • Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series – 1971
  • Actress In A Television Series – 1965

Moore was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the drama film Ordinary People, but lost to Sissy Spacek for her role in Coal Miner's Daughter.

On Broadway, Moore received a special Tony Award for her performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway? in 1980, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as well. In addition, as a producer she received nominations for Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards for MTM's productions of Noises Off in 1984 and Benefactors in 1986, and won a Tony Award for Best Reproduction of a Play or Musical in 1985 for Joe Egg.[54]

In 1984, Moore was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.[55] Two years later, in 1986, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

On May 8, 2002, Moore was present as the cable TV network TV Land and the City of Minneapolis dedicated a statue in downtown Minneapolis to the television character she made famous on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The statue, by sculptor Gwendolyn Gillen, is located in front of the Dayton's (now Macy's) department store, near the corner of 7th Street South and Nicollet Mall. It depicts the iconic moment in the show's opening credits where Moore tosses her Tam o' Shanter in the air, in a freeze-frame at the end of the montage.[56][57]

Moore was awarded the 2011 Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award.[58][59]




Year Title Role Notes
1957 Operation Mad Ball Army nurse uncredited
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
1968 Don't Just Stand There! Martine Randall
1969 Change of Habit Sister Michelle Gallagher Elvis Presley's last non-concert movie
1980 Ordinary People Beth Jarrett Won—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Nominated: Academy Award for Best Actress, BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress(2nd place), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress(3rd place)

1982 Six Weeks Charlotte Dreyfus
1986 Just Between Friends Holly Davis
1996 Flirting with Disaster Pearl Coplin
1996 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
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.