Mary Tyler Moore made awkward, perky independence so authentic back in the 1970s. She was a single woman making it on her own, but she never truly was sure of herself.
Yet, for the first time, young women watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show could imagine themselves with a life and career that wasn’t contingent on who you married.
Like the character she played, Mary Tyler Moore was full of tension and conflicts. She was a cool beauty, with all the right clothes and perfect hair. Moore was so very talented. Yet, she conceded her confidence wasn’t always there.
CBS and host Charlie Rose did a series of interviews with Moore through the 1990s. When Moore died in January, 2017 at the age of 80, CBS ran the clips again to give us a glimpse of who she was. It was called Mary Tyler Moore, In Her Own Words.
In her own words, Moore conceded she was both confident and unsure of whether her talents got her where she was, or whether it was merely luck.
“I have… always been a combination of both,” Moore told Rose in 1994.
Rose countered with both secure and insecure, really?
“And total insecurity, yes,” Moore said. “I can just knock ‘em dead. I’m the best!’’ and ‘’Oh, why would anyone ever want to see me? This is no good. They’re all going to find out.”
Mary Tyler Moore Oozed Talent in All Her Roles
Mary Tyler Moore was universally accepted as talented, whether she played Laura Petrie or Mary Richards. She beat out 60 actresses for the Dick Van Dyke Show. Danny Thomas, whose company produced the show, recommended her for the part. The show ran from 1961-55. Moore was 24 when she won the role. She earned Emmys in 1964 and 1966.
By 1970, Moore had her next signature role as TV producer Mary Richards in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She won three Emmys for Best Actress for Mary Richards, coming in 1973, 74 and 76.
Less than a decade after leaving Mary Richards in Minneapolis, Mary Tyler Moore was voted in the Emmy Hall of Fame. Since she left TV, Moore picked up an Academy Award nomination for Ordinary People and a Golden Globe win.
Her life never was perfect. Mary Tyler Moore was married three times. Her son and only child died of an accidental gunshot to the head in 1980. It was a cruel coincidence that her best-known movie role came out about a month before his death. In Ordinary People, Moore played a mother of two sons. One had just died, the other tried to commit suicide. In the movie, Moore couldn’t emotionally deal with the pain.
And also in real life, Moore was a recovering alcoholic.
In a 1995 interview, Charlie Rose told Mary Tyler Moore she enjoyed a good life.
She said: “has been a wonderful life, absolutely terrific. There are very few things that I would go back and do differently if I had that control.”