Mary Tyler Moore of The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show: 5 Quick Facts
Mary Tyler Moore was an Emmy and Tony Award-winning television actress, famous for playing Laura Petrie on the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, and producing and starring in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
1. She had a troubled childhood
Mary was born on December 29, 1936, in Flatbush, Brooklyn and grew up in California after her family relocated there when she was eight. Her mother was an alcoholic and her father was emotionally detached from her and the family. Describing her mother as an “entertaining alcoholic,” she said, “When one’s mother is an alcoholic and, despite a child’s pleading with her to stop, she continues, you may read that as a cold, selfish act on her part.”
2. She wanted to be a dancer
Growing up, Mary was keen on becoming a dancer. Her debut on the screen began as a tiny elf dancing in commercials for Hotpoint appliances, during the Harriet Nelson and Ozzie Nelson's 1950s sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She appeared in 39 commercials for Hotpoint, and she got pregnant while working for Hotpoint. Hotpoint decided to end her work as it was getting difficult to conceal her pregnancy in the elf costume.
3. Her big break came with The Dick Van Dyke Show, at age 24
Mary had once unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of the elder daughter of Danny Thomas’ The Danny Thomas Show. When Thomas was ready to produce The Dick Van Dyke Show, he recommended Mary, remembering her as the girl with three names - Mary Tyler Moore. Mary got selected and won an Emmy for her portrayal of Laura Petrie.
4. She created her own talk show
After a successful run with The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary and her husband, Grant Tinker, produced a new sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show - a half-hour newsroom sitcom starring Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, and Cloris Leachman. The show remained in the top-20 list for six consecutive years. During its seven seasons, the show held the record for winning 29 Emmys – highest number at the time, broken in 2002 by the show Frasier, which won 30 Emmys. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is regarded as the pivotal moment for the Women's Movement for its portrayal of an independent working woman, which challenged the traditional woman's role in marriage and family.
5. Mary was married three times
While working for the commercials for Hotpoint appliances, Mary married Richard Carleton Meeker, and was pregnant within six weeks. The marriage laster 6 years and the couple divorced in 1961.
In 1962, Mary married Grant Tinker, a CBS executive with whom she created The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1981.
In 1983, Mary married her mother’s doctor, Robert Levine, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. They met when he was on a weekend house call treating her mother in New York City.