Mary Tyler Moore has passed away at 80 but leaves behind a permanent legacy.

On Jan. 25, 2017, beloved actress and comedian Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80.

Best known for her work on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Moore brought laughter into the homes of millions of Americans throughout her decades-long, mold-breaking career.

Mary Tyler Moore on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1962. Courtesy Everett Collection.


Moore was born in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of three children. Her performance career began early, when she started dancing in television commercials at age 17.

At 24, she was cast in Carl Reiner's "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which became her breakout role and led to her winning her first Emmy in 1964. Later, she and then-husband Grant Tinker created "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which would become one of the most enduring and essential sitcoms of all time.

Moore permanently changed the role of women in comedy, in more ways than one.

In her book about "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," TV and pop culture writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong called it "TV's first truly female-dominated sitcom."

The show, wherein Moore plays a recently single, career-driven TV executive, aired in the 1970s — smack in the middle of the women's rights movement and the dawn of mainstream feminism.

Moore (right) in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Photo via CBS Television/Wikimedia Commons.

Moore gave the American TV landscape its first show about a career-focused woman who wasn't defined by a romantic relationship. It was groundbreaking and came at a time when women were increasingly entering the job market and breaking traditional gender roles.

The show would go on to earn a remarkable 29 Emmy Awards.

While Moore did a lot for the women's movement, she didn't embrace it as fully as some of her peers did at the time.

Journalist and political activist Gloria Steinem wanted Moore to join the feminist movement in the 1970s, but she refused.

She explained why in a PBS documentary, saying, "I believed — and still do — that women have a very major role to play as mothers. It’s very necessary for them to be with their children. That’s not what Gloria Steinem was saying. She was saying you can do everything and you owe it to yourself to have a career. I really didn’t believe that."

Still, Moore broke the mold for women in sitcoms and the TV industry, and her influence can still be seen today.

Moore ran her own production company and went on to influence entire generations of trailblazers and storytellers, including Oprah Winfrey, who said "I think Mary Tyler Moore has probably had more influence on my career than any other single person or force."

Tina Fey also credits "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as inspiration for both "30 Rock" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."

Moore attends the 11th annual Broadway Barks in July 2009 in New York City. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

She was also an activist and campaigned frequently for both animal rights and diabetes awareness. (She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1969.)

The beloved actress passed away "in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine," her representative Mara Buxbaum released in a statement.

A TV legend and trailblazing icon, Mary Tyler Moore will be dearly missed.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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