Mary Tyler Moore made her name as Hollywood’s iconic television personality and star. However, her personal life was riddled with tragedies that included a miscarriage.
Mary Tyler Moore was an actress who built herself a huge fan base on shows opposite other big stars like Dick Van Dyke on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” She then had the pleasure of hosting her show in the 1970s.
Mary continued working in the 1980s and ’90s; in 2013, she even had a guest role on “Hot in Cleveland.” However, she battled illnesses and other traumas in her personal life.
American actress Mary Tyler Moore posing for a photo circa 1970 | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images
The future star and her siblings were raised in the Catholic faith. Mary’s family later moved to Los Angeles when she was eight, and she started dancing and acting while attending high school.
Dr. Robert Levine and Mary Tyler Moore at the American Screenwriters Associations’ “Screenwriting Hall of Fame Awards” in Los Angeles, California on August 3, 2002 | Photo: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/Getty Images
HER START IN SHOW BUSINESS
The future star got her show business start as a dancer in advertisements. In the mid-1950s, she appeared on television as a dancing elf called “Happy Hotpoint” to promote home appliances.
She later ended up working in television variety shows as a chorus dancer. In 1959, she got to play Sam, a secretary whose face was never shown in the television drama “Richard Diamond, Private Detective.”
Mary Tyler Moore at the Farm Sanctuary Gala held at The Plaza Hotel on May 22, 2004, in New York City | Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images
Mary had many guest appearances in television shows like “Bachelor Father,” “Johnny Staccato,” “The Tab Hunter Show,” “Surfside 6,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Lock-Up,” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
Her film debut finally came in 1961 when Mary got to star in “X-15.” The aviation drama saw her starring alongside big Hollywood names like Charles Bronson and David McLean.
Mary Tyler Moore and Dr. Robert Levine during Lifetime’s Achievement Awards: Women Changing the World – Arrivals in New York City on May 8, 2003 | Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images
Mary finally became a household name when she landed a role on 1961’s “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” In the Carl Reiner series, Mary starred as Laura Petrie, one of television’s most beloved wives.
The role allowed her to show off her comedic side, and she got noticed enough that in 1964 and 1966, she won Emmy Awards for her work. The actress featured in movie musicals when the series ended in 1966.
Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker at the 25th Primetime Emmy Awards on May 20, 1973, at Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles, California | Photo: Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images
Mary struggled to land another hit program until she returned to television in 1970. She came back with her show, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which she co-produced with her second husband, Grant Tinker.
In the series, Mary played the role of Mary Richards, a television producer. On the comedy, fans got to follow Richard’s professional and personal life at Minneapolis’ WJM-TV.
Mary Tyler Moore walked down Kings Road in Chelsea, London while being in London for her film premiere of the film “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” on October 7, 1967 | Photo: David Johnson/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
The role ended up earning Mary a statue in 2002. Unveiled in downtown Minneapolis, the statue was of the iconic star tossing her hat in the air, as seen in her show’s opening.
In 1978, Mary attempted to return to television again with shows like “Mary” and in 1995, “New York News.” However, they failed to draw proper audiences, but this didn’t stop her from being a continuous success.
In 1980, she won a Tony Award for her role in Broadway’s “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” That same year, she was nominated for an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal in “Ordinary People.”
She starred in various television movies like 1978’s “First, You Cry,” 1984’s “Heartsounds,” 1985’s “Finnegan Begin Again,” 1988’s “Lincoln,” and 1993’s “Stolen Babies,” to name a few.
In her personal life, Mary struggled with alcoholism, diabetes, and loss. In her memoir “Growing Up Again,” the star revealed how alcohol affected almost every aspect of her life.
Alcohol was there when her two marriages failed and during the premature deaths of her son and sister. Her mother was an alcoholic, and Mary ended up reaching for the beverage when her father failed to show her love.
HELPING BROTHER COMMIT SUICIDE
In her autobiography, “After All,” Mary opened up about how she tried to help her terminally ill brother, John, commit suicide. The star helped feed him drug-laced ice cream.
The suicide attempt involving Mary’s then-husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, a cardiologist, failed. Her 47-year old brother passed away in 1992, three months after the incident from kidney cancer.
LOSING HER ONLY KID & SISTER
In the autobiography, “After All,” Mary also mentioned losing her only child, Richard. At 24, the young man, who had trouble with drugs, accidentally fatally shot himself.
On the other hand, the actress previously suffered another loss. The star’s younger sister, Elizabeth, passed away at age 21 from a combination of alcohol and a painkiller.
THE MISCARRIAGE THAT SAVED HER LIFE
Mary was 33 when she suffered a miscarriage in 1969. During an appearance with Larry King, she explained how the loss harbored a silver lining — it may have saved her life.
While dealing with the miscarriage, the actress needed a routine blood test, leading to a Type I diabetes diagnosis. Normal blood sugar levels are between 70 and 110, but Mary’s was 750!
Doctors were surprised that the actress was still able to function. She started taking insulin injections but struggled, at the time, because people didn’t know what diabetes was back then.
In 2010, she confessed to the Academy of American Television that it took her a while to discuss her diagnosis. Eventually, she became an advocate and spokeswoman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The iconic actress died on January 25, 2017, at age 80. By December 2018, the actress was the subject of Herbie J. Pilato’s biography “MARY: The Mary Tyler Moore Story,” an exploration of the most prominent female TV icons of the 1960s.