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R.I.P. Mary Tyler Moore

She turned the world on with her smile. Mary Tyler Moore, who defined modern womanhood in TV's Golden Age, has died. She was suffering from pneumonia, and was taken off a respirator at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut Tuesday night, according to her family.

Moore is best known for her portrayal of Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966 and Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977. She won six Emmy Awards, and was nominated for an Oscar for the 1980 movie Ordinary People.

“Mary Tyler Moore became a feminist icon as Mary Richards,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, the author of “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic,” said.

“She only wanted to play a great character, and she did so. That character also happened to be single, female, over 30, professional, independent, and not particularly obsessed with getting married. Mary had America facing such issues as equal pay, birth control, and sexual independence way back in the ’70s.”

Ms. Moore had earlier, in a decidedly different era, played another beloved television character: Laura Petrie, the stylish wife of the comedy writer played by Dick Van Dyke on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Also on CBS, the show ran from 1961 to 1966.

Ms. Moore was the lesser star in those days, but she shared Mr. Van Dyke’s background in song and dance, and as a comedy duo they magnified each other’s charm. Ms. Moore transformed and tamed the vaudeville style that had dominated sitcoms, perfecting a comic housewifely hysteria in Laura, made visible in the way she often appeared to be fighting back tears. Her “Dick Van Dyke Show” performance won her two Emmys.  

She had more influence on television than was visible, thanks to her MTM Enterprises, which was run by Moore and her then-husband Grant Tinker, who passed away in November. Moore leaves behind her husband, Dr. Robert Levine. Mary Tyler Moore was 80.

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