Since Mary Tyler Moore’s passing this past January, her life in television and film have been revisited through photos and clips of her Emmy award-winning shows. Moore’s legacy will live on through these mediums and will continue to teach and reteach lessons learned from watching her.
Mary Tyler Moore played Mary Richards, a thirty-something woman working as an associate television producer. She made being a single, professional woman look chic in the 1970’s, and it resonated with women. Moore portrayed a modern woman earning her own respectable income, which was in sharp contrast to the typical yet idealized women seen on television in those days.
What we can still learn from Moore’s example of a professional woman is that today’s woman is still able to blaze her own trail and find her own path. It is not a feminist “I don’t need a man” message but rather an “I am capable” message that forces others to take notice. Moore’s portrayal of a professional woman paved the way for Oprah, and others who would become so well known for their contributions to the television industry.
Moore’s professional life included two Emmy awards for her role in the Dick Van Dyke show, and three Emmy awards for the Mary Tyler Moore show. Her personal life wasn’t any less dramatic with two failed marriages, illness, and the tragic death of her only son. She tried to move on with life and did so in the best way she knew how.
Moore became a functional alcoholic and began drinking heavily in order to cope with the pressures and stresses of her life. This part of her life was never discussed as she was able to continue working and moving forward as scheduled. We can learn from her example that even though you seem to be functioning, if you have not dealt with the pain, all is not well.
It is a tragedy that difficulties are hard to talk about. Often, there are few people who will understand and even fewer who really care. Most of the time, the person feels so alone and are forced to endure their pain while wearing a mask of a smiling face. Where is it written that a well-known television star will not have any problems?
Yet Moore’s life was a life lived graciously and with character despite her pain, and her loss. She will always be remembered as the girl who turned the world on with her smile.
RIP, Mary Tyler Moore.
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