“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, who had struggled with health problems including diabetes, was reportedly hospitalized in Connecticut for the last several days.
The ambitious young actress, after starting her career in TV commercials, became one of the queens of the small screen through her work in a pair of classic comedies in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
She first emerged on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” from 1961-66, joining an ensemble cast on the show created by comedy genius Carl Reiner, and then as the headliner in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1970-77.
She earned two Emmys opposite Van Dyke and another three on her eponymous show. Moore also won a Tony Award for her part in the Broadway show “Whose Life Is It Anyway?,” and earned an Oscar nomination for her role as an emotionally distant mom in the Robert Redford-directed “Ordinary People.”
Moore had her eye on the Hollywood eye from an early age, as she revealed in an early interview.
“I gave up college to learn to become a star,” she once said. “I don’t just hope for it. I work for it. I expect it.”
Her first big break came as Happy Hotpoint, the sprightly mascot of the Hotpoint Appliance Co. She sported pointy ears and a leotard when the ads first ran on “The Ozzie and Harriet Show” when Moore was still a teen.
She then appeared as a secretary in a network detective series where only her shapely legs appeared on camera.
Moore bolted after 13 weeks, intent on making her face as famous as her legs.
She using her notoriety to land a variety of guest-starring shots on popular programs like “The Millionaire” and “77 Sunset Strip.”
It was actor Danny Thomas who steered the young actress to Carl Reiner and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Moore, a bit down after a week of fruitless auditions, nearly blew off her meeting with Reiner. And she quickly blew him away.
“That’s all it took — three lines,” he later recalled.
Reiner had found his Laura Petrie, and signed her to a five-year deal.
Moore was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 33, around the start of her run on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” — a show featuring her as an independent young woman working in a Minneapolis TV newsroom.
In the show’s memorable opening credits, Moore is seen tossing her beret in the sky as the theme song plays the lyrics, “You’re gonna make it after all.”
She acknowledged that her diagnosis of diabetes at the time of her success was difficult to handle.
“When the doctor said I had diabetes, I conjured images of languishing on a chaise longue nibbling chocolates,” she told USA Today in 2009. “I have no idea why I thought this.”
She quickly learned about the possible complications and delicate balance she would have to maintain with insulin syringes and blood sugar readings.
Moore’s later career focused on TV specials and film. She wrote two memoirs, acknowledged she was a recovering alcoholic, became an international spokeswoman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and served as an activist for animal rights.
Moore told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that she’d undergone several laser surgeries to treat her deteriorating vision. She said considerable “splotchiness and dimming” in her eyes were a problem.
Vision problems forced her to give up her cherished ballet and horseback riding, she told USA Today, but she replaced them with other forms of exercise, including Pilates.
She carried a loaded syringe in her pocket while dining out so she could give herself a quick injection of insulin if needed, she said in 2009.
“I shoot myself right through my clothes there at the table, right here in my thigh. I seldom wear white as a result,” she told the newspaper.
She later underwent brain surgery in 2011.