2017 is off to a devastating start with the death of TV icon Mary Tyler Moore.
“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,” Mara Buxbaum, Moore’s longtime publicist, said in a statement.
This death comes at a trying time, not just because celebrity deaths have been all too abundant as of late, but because of the symbol Mary Tyler Moore created for the feminist community. In the world of TV, she is truly considered one of the first feminists in the industry, who pioneered women’s involvement — off-screen and on-screen.
Mary Richards, Moore’s character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” was a huge changeup for female characters on TV when the show premiered in 1970. A single woman of 30 — gasp! Unmarried at 30? Bless her poor, destined to be tragically alone heart! — Mary Richards moved to Minneapolis to pursue a secretarial position at a TV station… and instead ends up as an associate producer.
That kind of professional status alone was revolutionary, but “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” took it a step further by decorating the narrative with more women who were unabashedly unique and strong-willed. Frankly, some of them can still put a few one-dimensional, female TV characters of 2017 to shame. The show itself tackled equal pay, sexuality, divorce and beyond — and became a cornerstone of the Women’s Movement for daring to take a serious look at modern day issues and women in the workplace.
Rather than depicting an independent woman as what some might call “nasty,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” dug into the truth of the matter: Independent women are funny, capable, strong-willed and interesting, and depicting them as harpies or desperate old maids was an antiquated notion, even back then.
In a day and age where American men and women needed those kind of strong female characters to look up to, Mary Tyler Moore gave them Mary Richards every Saturday night. Modern-day career women everywhere, raise a glass to this esteemed actress — and a career that influenced history in such amazing ways.