Mary Tyler Moore, TV's OG Badass Working Woman, Dies at 80

Liz Alterman


CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

As if we didn't lose enough legends in 2016, our hearts are breaking at the news that we've lost this beloved star. Mary Tyler Moore has died at the age of 80. The revered actress of both the big and small screen was a feminist icon, ahead of her time in so many ways, which is why it's so heartbreaking to say good-bye. 

NOW PLAYING: Mary Tyler Moore, TV's OG...

Her rep, Mara Buxbaum, issued the following statement to the Huffington Post: "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. 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."

So true. America first fell in love with Moore on the small screen when she played the lovable Laura Petrie, wife of handsome Dick Van Dyke (please, Lord, keep that guy safe!) on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

But the woman with the winning smile went on to win four Primetime Emmys for her portrayal of Mary Richards, the ultimate single career gal working her way up the corporate ladder as a TV news producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran for seven seasons in the 1970s. She was a more conservative precursor to Sex & the City's Carrie Bradshaw, doling out weeknight meals, wardrobe essentials, and hard-won wisdom to her BFF, Rhoda, and her colleagues Ted, Murray, Lou, and more.

More from CafeMom: 

No matter what was happening in the newsroom, Mary Richards brought her signature pluck to the situation and made all right with the world again. 

 

Richards lived alone and didn't seem to require a man to validate her. She could work a Crock-Pot, rock a head scarf and bell bottoms, and run rings around her male coworkers all while keeping her humor and perfectly styled mane in tact.

Of course, Richards was a fictional character, but as I watched Moore (who starred in her own show at a time when many women didn't) bring her to life on Saturday nights as I sat in my childhood living room attempting to brush my hair into her trademark flip, she was so much more than that to me. 

She was a vision of all that a woman could aspire to be. She had a career, she had her own apartment (remember that super-cool slightly sunken living room?), and she didn't seem to be bothered at all by the fact that she didn't have a boyfriend or a baby. She was independent and capable, and while not everything went her way, you knew she really was going to make it after all -- just as her show's theme song suggested. "And so can you," Moore seemed to whisper to me through the screen of my parents' hulking television set.

More from CafeMom: 11 Inspiring Quotes From Prince That Remind Us to Be True to Ourselves

Moore seemed to love her character just as much as we did, telling CNN in 2002, "I think she represents an indomitable spirit -- that she believes, as everyone can, in possibilities."  

Women watched in awe as Richards requested equal pay and went on the birth control pill. In many ways, she was a stunning pioneer in a polyester pantsuit. And she was just what women needed.  

Of course, Moore's career went on after her run on The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended. She received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her work in the film Ordinary People, in which she starred as a mother grieving the loss of her son -- a role she sadly played in real life as well. Moore's only child died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 24. 

Moore was also open about her battle with type 1 diabetes, as well as her struggles with alcohol and Valium. She was also a passionate animal rights advocate.

It is with heavy hearts that we bid this amazing woman farewell. In her honor, let's toss our hats in the air and honor her spirt by continuing the wonderful work she began decades ago. 

Read More

tv, celebrity death, feminism, women's issues