Just days after the largest single-day protest in American history was held to advocate for women’s rights, one of the earliest actresses to challenge female characters’ roles in pop culture has died.
Oscar-nominated actress Mary Tyler Moore, who starred for seven seasons in her self-titled, Emmy-winning series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died Wednesday due to complications from pneumonia at the age of 80.
According to The New York Times, Moore’s death was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia.
“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,” reads the official statement on the Moore’s death. “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.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Moore first caught television audiences’ attention as the wife of Dick Van Dyke’s comedy-writer character on The Dick Van Dyke Show — a role that earned her an Emmy Award. However, it was her portrayal of television news producer Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that rocketed her to stardom and made her a feminist icon in the 1970s.
The series, which aired for seven seasons on CBS and remains one of the most acclaimed shows of all time — it held the record for the most Emmy Awards until Frasier surpassed it in 2002 — cast Moore as a single 30-year-old woman who rises through the ranks at a Minneapolis television station to become the producer of its nightly news show. Widely regarded as the first series to feature a single, never-married, independent professional woman as its central character, The Mary Tyler Moore Show quickly became a celebrated focal point for the feminist movement in the ’70s as her character challenged the typical roles portrayed by women on television.
Moore was nominated for eight Emmy Awards during the series’ run and won four of them during that span.
Along with her performance in front of the camera, Moore also formed her own production company, MTM Enterprises, with second husband Grant Tinker. In addition to producing The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the company went on to produce such notable series as The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, and St. Elsewhere.
Moore went on to act opposite Robert Redford in the Oscar-winning 1980 film Ordinary People, portraying a grieving mother dealing with the death of a son and the disintegration of her suburban, middle-class family. The film took home four Academy Awards, and Moore was nominated for an Oscar for her performance.
Ed Asner, who portrayed Mary’s gruff boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was one of many celebrities to express condolences and sympathy to Moore’s remaining family on social media.
#marytylermoore my heart goes out to you and your family. Know that I love you and believe in your strength.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 25, 2017
I'm deep in regret about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. What an actress. What a woman. What a person. Always gracious, filled w/good humor
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 25, 2017