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Mary Tyler Moore Dead: Stars Mourn Loss of a ‘Fearless Visionary’

Mary Tyler Moore died at a Connecticut hospital surrounded by friends and family on Wednesday, January 25, following a series of health complications. She was 80.

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“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,” her longtime rep, Mara Buxbaum, told Us Weekly in a statement. “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.”

Mary Tyler Moore poses for a portrait in 1978 in Los Angeles, California.
Mary Tyler Moore poses for a portrait in 1978 in Los Angeles. Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Her costars and other celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres expressed their condolences over the loss of the cheery TV legend.

“There are no words,” wrote her costar Dick Van Dyke on Twitter. “She was the best! I always said we changed each other’s lives for the better.”

Her former Mary Tyler Moore costar Michael Keaton also paid tribute, telling Us: “Mary Tyler Moore could light up a room! She is an icon and a friend. She was my cast mate and my boss. She was incredibly funny and completely generous. As an actor and comedian, she allowed me and everyone to perform – letting us just do our thing without any competiveness. She was not only a pioneer in TV, comedy and business but she was a role model for women in general. She built an empire with MTM Enterprises and she paved the way for our new talents like Amy, Tina and others. She is truly going to be missed.”

Robert Redford, who directed Moore in 1980 his drama Ordinary People, also remembered the actress. “Mary’s energy, spirit and talent created a new bright spot in the television landscape and she will be very much missed,” he said. “The courage she displayed in taking on a role,( Ordinary People), darker than anything she had ever done, was brave and enormously powerful.”

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Moore’s Ordinary People costar, Timothy Hutton, told Us, “I am deeply saddened by the news of Mary’s passing. She was a truly amazing person, a great friend, and an inspiration to all. I will always be grateful for her kindness and thankful beyond words for knowing her. She will be missed greatly.”

Her Mary Tyler Moore costar Georgia Engel told Us, “She was my beloved friend, I loved her very much. She helped launch my career. She will be missed greatly.”

Gavin MacLeod, another one of Moore’s Mary Tyler Moore costars, told Us in a statement, “A line from our theme song was ‘Love is all around,’ and that’s what it was for 5 days a week for seven years straight on the Mary Tyler Moore set. It was all because of Mary! She was professional; she was extremely creative with a terrific sense of humor and a gifted actress. She set a pace for all of us to follow. So I consider those seven years working with this very special person as a gift from God. It goes with out saying what a wonderful loving and caring person she was to everyone who worked on the show. Mary was America’s sweetheart and she was mine also. I was the luckiest guy in the world just sitting next to her and looking at her beautiful face…and legs!”

Added Cloris Leachman, “”My heart goes out to her husband, Robert—he was never more than a touch away from her. The picture that we all have of her, that’s how she was—sweet, kind, so tender, so delicate. She was America’s sweetheart. Valerie and I always had to rehearse and rehearse, to work things through but Mary was always ready to go, thoroughly prepared. The last time I saw her was our ‘Hot In Cleveland’ reunion. I had a feeling I wouldn’t see her again. If I could see her one last time I’d hold her in my arms and say, ‘We love you.'”

Oprah Winfrey also posted a tribute to Moore on Facebook, along with a clip showing the talk show queen breaking down in tears when the actress once surprised her on the set of her talk show. “Dear Mary, You already know how you majorly influenced my life and career. I respected and admired your business acumen, your passion and compassion for all life, and most important the values espoused through your storytelling. Thank you for being a Light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in you,” wrote Winfrey. The TV icon later Tweeted: “I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever.”

Ellen DeGeneres also paid tribute, tweeting: “Mary Tyler Moore changed the world for all women. Sending my love to her family.”

Earlier in the day Wednesday, TMZ reported that the Hollywood icon had been hooked up to a respirator for more than a week. Moore, who is best known for her role as Mary Richards on much beloved series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, had battled diabetes for many years.

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Her type 1 diabetes diagnosis when she was 33 years old led her to become an advocate for diabetes and stem cell research; she was the international chairwoman of Juvenile Diabetes Research International. Moore also underwent brain surgery in 2011 for a benign tumor.

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In addition to WJM-TV’s favorite producer, Mary Richards, Moore also played Mary Todd Lincoln in 1988 miniseries Lincoln, reprised her role as a New York City journalist in 1995’s New York News, and most recently had a recurring role as Diane on Hot in Cleveland opposite Betty White. Moore took home the Golden Globe for 1980’s Ordinary People, which also nabbed an Oscar nomination that year. 

Moore is survived by her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine.

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