Mary Tyler Moore Biography

Mary Tyler Moore photo

Born: December 29, 1936


Date of Birth: December 29, 1936

Mary Tyler Moore shot to fame in 1961 when she landed a role as Dick Van Dyke's wife, Laura Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She won a Golden Globe award for her role on the show, as well as two Primetime Emmy Awards.

Mary was born in Brooklyn, New York to Marjorie and George Tyler Moore. They moved to California when Mary was eight. Mary, who married right out of high school at age 18 to Richard Carleton Meeker.

Mary wanted to become a dancer and landed a role as a dancing elf called "Happy Hotpoint" in over 30 Hotpoint Appliances television commercials.

Soon after, Mary became pregnant with a son, Richard Meeker Jr., and when she couldn't hide the fact any longer, her stint on the commercials came to an end. She took a break to spend time with her baby before returning to television as a dancer on The Eddie Fisher Show in 1957. She also had an uncredited role as a dance hall girl in the Western comedy feature Once Upon a Horse... (1958) starring comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Soon after, she turned to acting and following several small guest roles on television, landed a regular role as mysterious telephone receptionist Sam on Richard Diamond, Private Detective. However, there was a catch. Her voice was heard, and her legs were visible, but Mary's face was never seen.

Moving on to bigger and better appearances, Mary guest-starred on three episodes of the popular crime series 77 Sunset Strip, two episodes of the popular ABC sitcom, Bachelor Father and four episodes of the ABC action/adventure series Hawaiian Eye.

In 1961 she became a household name on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She also won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe for her work on the show. When it came to an end in 1966, Mary didn't think she would ever enjoy such success again. However, when a script she and her second husband, producer Grant Tinker, pitched to CBS was picked up, she found even greater fame than before.

Called The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the new series was set in a television newsroom. Mary played Mary Richards, a single woman working as a TV producer on a news show. The show enjoyed high ratings for many years and is known for the final shot of the opening, in which Mary takes off a beret and joyously flings it into the air. The show also starred Betty White as the man-hungry TV hostess Sue Ann Nivens, Cloris Leachman as Mary's landlady, Valerie Harper as Mary's friend Rhoda, Ed Asner as her boss Lou Grant, Gavin MacLeod as newswriter Murray Slaughter and Ted Knight as the dim-witted anchorman, Ted Baxter.

Through the show's seven seasons, it was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, winning three times. Mary herself won a Golden Globe for her work on the show, as well as four Primetime Emmys.

Mary, who was diagnosed at age 33 with insulin-dependent diabetes, struggled with the disease for the rest of her life. She had to stop dancing and horseback riding and lobbied Congress for more diabetes research.

On January 25, 2017, Mary passed away at at Connecticut hospital at the age of 80, surrounded by her family and friends, including third husband Robert Levine. She was predeceased by her only son, Richie, who died of an accidental gunshot wound in 1980.


Against the Current (2009)
Cheats (2002)
Labor Pains (2000)
Keys to Tulsa (1997)
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
Just Between Friends (1986)
Six Weeks (1982)
Ordinary People (1980)
Change of Habit (1969)
What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968)
Don't Just Stand There (1968)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
X-15 (1961)
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