Actress. Born December 29, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. Grew up in Southern California. Best known for her work as a bubbly comedienne in the TV sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Moore was originally trained as a dancer. Before she graduated high school, she got her TV start as "Happy Hotpoint," an elf who danced atop kitchen appliances in commercials airing on the Ozzie and Harriet Show (1955). She had small roles in TV's Bachelor Father (1958) and Steve Canyon (1958), but her first regular part was as the secretary in Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Frustrated with the role (only her legs and voice were used), she left the series after three months.
In the next few years, she appeared in many of TV's most popular dramatic series, including 77 Sunset Strip (1958), Hawaiian Eye (1959), Thriller (1960), The Millionaire (1960), and Surfside 6 (1960).
Moore's big break came in 1961 when she landed the role of the adorable (and often frazzled) Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66). She won two Emmy Awards for her performance. After the sitcom ended, she experienced a series of career disappointments within the next four years, including a starring role in Broadway's Breakfast at Tiffany's and a supporting part in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie, both of which were unsuccessful. These performances were followed by a few unremarkable films, including Change of Habit with Elvis Presley.
After appearing with Dick Van Dyke in a TV special in 1969, network executives decided to consider her for a sitcom of her own. This resulted in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), where she reached her peak of popularity portraying Mary Richards, the quintessential girl-next-door, who worked in a TV station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As Mary, she won three more Emmy Awards and a special award in 1974 as Series Actress of the Year--as well as the hearts of America.
After the show ended, she turned to dramatic roles, including breast cancer victim Betty Rawlins, in the made-for-TV movie First, You Cry (1978). Her most important dramatic venture was Robert Redford's Ordinary People (1980), in which she portrayed an unstable mother in a dysfunctional family. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. That same year, she also won a special Tony Award for her work in the Broadway play Whose Life Is It, Anyway?
In Ordinary People, Moore's character has difficulty coping with the loss of one of her sons. In a real-life, Moore lost her own 24-year-old son to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1980, the same year the film was released. Moore checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 to deal with a social drinking problem. As a lifelong diabetic, she claimed that the alcohol consumption was affecting her health.
Moore won her seventh Emmy Award in 1992 for Stolen Babies, a made-for-TV movie about a baby broker. Her recent work includes Flirting With Disaster (1996), with Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette, and Keys to Tulsa (1997), with James Spader and Eric Stoltz. In 1998, fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show were thrilled to read announcements that Moore was slated to team with Valerie Harper in the prime time sitcom Mary and Rhoda. However, the network scrapped the show before a single episode was produced.
Moore's first husband was Dick Meeker (1955-1961). Her second husband was producer Grant Tinker (1962-81), with whom she founded MTM Productions. In 1983, she married Dr. Robert Levine, who is 15 years her junior.
Moore is the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and has been elected to the board of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She and her husband have homes in Manhattan and upstate New York.
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