Mary Tyler Moore, whose groundbreaking '70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show changed television forever, has died. She was 80.
Her publicist confirmed the news today in a statement: "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."
While the actress amassed an astounding resume in TV (including The Dick Van Dyke Show), movies (she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as a grieving mom in 1980's Ordinary People) and theater, she'll forever be remembered for her iconic TV series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
In the series, which ran from 1970-1977, she played a woman who moves to Minneapolis after breaking up with her fiance and becomes a local news producer. With a powerhouse cast that included Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Georgia Engel, the sitcom ran for seven seasons. It won 29 Emmys and spawned three separate spinoffs that each ran multiple seasons: Rhoda (starring Harper), Phyllis (starring Leachman) and Lou Grant (starring Asner).
It was the rare TV series that was known as fondly for its iconic opening sequence—which featured the memorable lyric, "Who can turn the world on with her smile?", and Moore triumphantly tossing her hat in the air in downtown Minneapolis—as for its series finale, one of the all-time best, which ends in a massive group hug after the entire staff (except for Ted Knight's Ted) is fired by the new station manager. Many classic series don't age well after several decades; but Moore and The Mary Tyler Moore Show still hold up today. (Don't believe me? Take another look at the Chuckles the Clown funeral episode.)
Moore's series was the first hit TV show centered around an independent, working woman who, notably, had never married. Its success laid the groundwork for several other workplace-themed comedies anchored by tenacious women, including Murphy Brown and 30 Rock.
Moore was also a behind-the-scenes TV force as well. She and her then-husband Grant Tinker founded MTM Enterprises in 1969, which was responsible for producing hits like The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, WKRP in Cincinnati and St. Elsewhere.
She never found another TV series that was able to measure up to The Mary Tyler Moore Show—then again, what show ever could? But she frequently popped up in shows like Ellen, That '70s Show and more recently, Hot in Cleveland, where she reunited with several of her Mary Tyler Moore Show costars.
And her uproarious turn in the 1996 comedy Flirting with Disaster provided that her comic timing was as sharp and biting as ever.
As Moore, who won six Emmy Awards, stepped back from acting, she continued to inspire in other ways, by opening up about her struggles with alcoholism and living with Type I diabetes, which led her to become a staunch advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
To paraphrase her Mary Tyler Moore Show boss, Lou Grant, Moore had spunk. We love spunk!