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.
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 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.
Every Saturday night Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards inspired little girls like me to make our way in the world. A… https://t.co/MNJpZIHoVM— Bertha Coombs (@Bertha Coombs) 1485374671
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."
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.