Claim to fame: actress (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ordinary People) and diabetes advocate
DOB: December 29, 1936
Date of death: January 25, 2017
Diabetes type: 1
Mary Tyler Moore was born in Flatbush, New York on December 29, 1936 to George Tyler Moore and Marjorie Hackett. She was the oldest of three siblings. Her family moved to California when she was eight.
At the age of seventeen, Moore started with the role of Happy Hotpoint on television commercials broadcast during Ozzie and Harriet. At eighteen, she married Dick Meeker, whom she described as “the boy next door,” and within six weeks became pregnant with her only son, Richie, (which, coincidentally, was also the name of her TV son on The Dick Van Dyke Show). Meeker and Moore divorced in 1961. That same year, after numerous small roles, Moore took on one of her most popular roles as Laura Petrie, wife of television comedy writer Rob Petrie (played by Dick Van Dyke) on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 to 1967. Carl Reiner, the show’s creator and upon whose life the show was based, told the cast from the outset that it would run no more than five years.
Moore is also best known for her work as the star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977), which she decided to end after seven seasons due to the fact that it had already developed all possible comedic situations. Moore wanted to end on a high note. She switched gears later on, going from a lovable character to a coldhearted mother in the 1980 movie Ordinary People, for which she received an Oscar nomination.
Moore went on to work on several short-lived television series, and also appeared in several Broadway plays. She married Grant Tinker in 1962, and, with him, formed the television production company MTM Enterprises. MTM created and produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as Rhoda, Phyllis, The Bob Newhart Show, and others. Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981. In 1983, she married her current husband, Dr. Robert Levine.
Moore was diagnosed in 1961 with type 1 diabetes. Throughout her life, she was a tireless worker for animal rights, and also a supporter of embryonic stem cell research. She even became the international chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Moore suffered in the last few years of he life from heart and kidney problems and near blindness, and passed away on January 25, 2017, at the age of eighty.
“You’ve got to always plan,” Moore once said about diabetes in a USA Today article. “It is a fact of life that if someone invites you out to dinner, you have to think, ‘What are they going to be doing when they serve you dinner? How quickly are they going to get it on the table from the time I arrive? When should I take my shot? What should I eat of what’s available?’” She said she had learned to carry a loaded syringe in her pocket, so that if she ate a little more than expected, she could give herself a quick injection of insulin to level her blood sugar.