8 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Mary Tyler Moore

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To pay tribute to the icon, who passed away on January 25, we dug up some little-known facts about her life and career.

The legendary Mary Tyler Moore (who had turned 80 on Dec. 29, 2016) was both as a sitcom star in her own right and a respected TV producer of classics like Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show.

Moore was a woman ahead of her time, and her popular sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show is regarded as feminist milestone in American television. Author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, who wrote the book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, says the show is “TV’s first truly female-dominated sitcom.”

But it was also Moore’s tireless activism behind the scenes that lent to her reputation as one of Hollywood’s elite. In her early 30s, Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and went on to work as the international chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Moore passed away on January 25 at the age of 80.

To pay tribute to the icon, we look at a few fascinating facts you may not know.

Mary Tyler Moore, in an undated school photo.

1. Born in Flatbush, New York, on December 29, 1936, Mary Tyler Moore was the oldest of three siblings born to George Tyler Moore and Marjorie Hackett. Her family moved to California when she was eight.

2. At 17, Moore got her first taste of showbiz as Happy Hotpoint, the dancing “spokes-elf” for Hotpoint appliances which aired during The Ozzie and Harriet Show. She appeared in approximately 39 commercials for the company.

3. In 1961, at the age of 25, Moore made her film debut in the Charles Bronson aviation drama, X-15.

4. She produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show with her second husband Grant Tinker and their company MTM Enterprise in 1970.

5. Moore won a Tony Award for her performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a Broadway hit in 1980. That same year she received an Oscar nomination for her role in Ordinary People (above).

Mary Tyler Moore holds a cup of tea while her son, Richard, looks inside, circa 1965.

6. Sadly, that same year (1980), saw the death of her only child, 24-year-old Richard, due to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound. Richard was her son with first husband, Ricard Meeker.

7. A longtime vegetarian and animal activist, Moore worked closely with Farm Sanctuary and founded Broadway Barks in 1999 with longtime friend Bernadette Peters. The charity encourages people to adopt animals from shelters.

8.  In May 2002, a bronze statue was unveiled in Minneapolis, where The Mary Tyler Moore Show took place. The statue depicts Moore’s iconic hat toss in the opening sequence.