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Television icon Mary Tyler Moore dies aged 80 after 'being on a respirator for more than a week at a Connecticut hospital'

January 25, 2017 9:01 PM
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Television icon Mary Tyler Moore passed away this afternoon at the age of 80.

The Emmy award-winning actress died Wednesday surrounded by family members who quickly flocked to say their goodbyes at a Connecticut hospital.

Her publicist, Mara Buxbaum,said 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.

Moore, whose comic realism helped revolutionize the depiction of women on the small screen, was reported to be in 'grave condition' at the undisclosed hospital, TMZ first reported.

The longtime actress, who gained fame in the 1960s as the frazzled wife Laura Petrie on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', had been on a respirator for more than a week, TMZ reported.

Moore suffered from a number of health problems and her condition 'had become critical' recently.

The actress, who won seven Emmy awards over the years and was nominated for an Oscar for her 1980 portrayal of an affluent mother whose son is accidentally killed in 'Ordinary People,' had a long battle with diabetes.

She was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1966 at the age of 33, which is the same year of the last season she played Laura Petrie on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

The New York native went on to play the groundbreaking role as Mary Richards on 'The Mary Tyler Moore' show from 1970 to 197, where she portrayed a single career woman working in a Minneapolis TV newsroom.

Moore truly made her mark on the series which aired at a time when women's liberation was catching on worldwide.

Her character brought TV audiences an independent, 1970s career woman. Other than Marlo Thomas' 1960s sitcom character 'That Girl,' who at least had a steady boyfriend, there were few precedents.

Mary Richards was comfortable being single in her 30s, and while she dated, she wasn't desperate to get married.

The show was filled with laughs. But no episode was more memorable than the bittersweet finale when new management fired the entire WJM News staff - everyone but the preening, clueless anchorman, Ted Baxter.

The series ran seven seasons and won 29 Emmys, a record that stood for a quarter century until 'Frasier' broke it in 2002.

'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' spawned the spin-offs 'Rhoda,' (1974-78), starring Valerie Harper; 'Phyllis' (1975-77), starring Cloris Leachman; and 'Lou Grant' (1977-82), starring Asner in a rare drama spun off from a comedy.

Moore was born in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York on December 29, 1936 as the oldest child of three children.

Her family eventually moved to Queens before moving to sunny Los Angeles when she was eight-years-old.

At the age of 17, Moore decided to embark on a career as a dancer and first appeared on television as a tiny elf dancing on Hotpoint appliance commercials in the 1950s.

Her first regular TV role was playing a telephone receptionist on Richard Diamond, Private Detective'.

Moore's acting career quickly took off, as she appeared in several television shows and movies, including Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Six, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Steve Canyon, Hawaiian Eye, Thriller and Lock-Up.

Moore's first major TV role was on the classic sitcom 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' in which she played the young homemaker wife of Van Dyke's character, comedy writer Rob Petrie, from 1961-66.

With her unerring gift for comedy, Moore seemed perfectly fashioned to the smarter wit of the new, post-Eisenhower age. As Laura, she traded in the housedress of countless sitcom wives and clad her dancer's legs in Capri pants that were as fashionable as they were suited to a modern American woman.

But it was as Mary Richards, the plucky Minneapolis TV news producer on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' (1970-77), that Moore truly made her mark.

At a time when women's liberation was catching on worldwide, her character brought to TV audiences an independent, 1970s career woman. Other than Marlo Thomas' 1960s sitcom character 'That Girl,' who at least had a steady boyfriend, there were few precedents.

The series ran seven seasons and won 29 Emmys, a record that stood for a quarter century until 'Frasier' broke it in 2002.

But when she was cast on 'The Dick Van Dyke' show where she gained even more fame in the 1960s playing Laura Petrie, the frazzled, homemaker wife of Van Dyke's character, comedy writer Rob Petrie, from 1961-66.

'She was an impressive person and a talented person and a beautiful person. A force of nature,' said producer, creator and director Carl Reiner, who created the 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' told The Associated Press.

With her unerring gift for comedy, Moore seemed perfectly fashioned to the smarter wit of the new, post-Eisenhower age. As Laura, she traded in the housedress of countless sitcom wives for Capri pants that were as fashionable as they were suited to a modern American woman.

Moore's chemistry with Van Dyke was unmistakable. Decades later, he spoke warmly of the chaste but palpable off-screen crush they shared during the show's run.

On the big screen, Moore's appearances were less frequent. She was a 1920s flapper in the hit 1967 musical 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' and a nun who falls for Elvis Presley in 'Change of Habit' in 1969.

She turned to serious drama in 1980's 'Ordinary People,' playing an affluent, bitter mother who loses a son in an accident.

The film won the Oscar for best picture and best director for Robert Redford, and it earned Moore an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.

'I am deeply saddened by the news of Mary's passing. She was a truly amazing person, a great friend, and an inspiration to all,' Timothy Hutton, her 'Ordinary People' co-star, said in a statement.

In her lifetime, Moore was married a total of three times. She first married Richard Carleton Meeker at age 18 in 1955, and within six weeks of their marriage she was pregnant.

Her only child, Richard Jr., was born on July 3, 1956, but he died of an accidental gunshot to the head while handling a sawed off shotgun in 1980.

Moore divorced her first husband in 1961 and went on the next year to marry Grant Tinker who was a CBS executive who later served as the chairman of NBC.

Her marriage to Tinker lasted from 1962 to 1981, as they produced 'The Mary Tyler Moore' show and a number of other popular shows together through their television production company MTM Enterprises.

The next year after marrying Levine, she spent five weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic for alcohol abuse.

In her 1995 autobiography 'After All,' Moore admitted she helped her terminally ill brother try to commit suicide by feeding him ice cream laced with a deadly overdose of drugs.

The attempt failed, and her 47-year-old brother, John, died three months later in 1992 of kidney cancer.

Moore told of her struggle with diabetes in her 2009 book, 'Growing Up Again.' She served as chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, supported embryonic stem cell research and was active in animal rights causes.

In 2004, she told the Chicago Tribune that she underwent several laser surgeries to help treat her deteriorating vision, as she considered the 'splotchiness and dimming' in her eyes as a problem.

The actress underwent brain surgery in 2011 to remove a benign brain tumor.

After news of her hospitalization first broke, fans and celebrities took to social media to offer their prayers to the television icon.

Cohen and other celebrities took to Twitter hours later to offer their condolences to the icon.

'RIP beautiful, upbeat, shining, glorious, wonderful, iconic Mary Tyler Moore.', Cohen wrote.

In a third tweet about the legend, Cohen wrote: 'LOVE IS ALL AROUND RIP MARY'.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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