When Screen Actors Guild (SAG) president Ken Howard called Mary Tyler Moore to inform her of being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, she said that she thought he was calling her to ask her to present something to someone. Moore, who helped to create two of television’s most memorable and groundbreaking roles, The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Laura Petrie and The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Mary Richards, feels honored at all the attention. She says that she looks at the SAG award as a reward for doing something good.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show featured Moore playing the role of the main character, Mary Richards, and ran on CBS for seven years. Mary Richards was a single, career woman in her thirties who had just broken up with her med student boyfriend, whom she had supported for the past two years. Now here she was starting over, making it on her own without having been married and she wasn’t seeking a man to support her.
Mary Richards was the first “real ‘grownup’ career woman on TV.” She was a real person who displayed real insecurities and fears. You couldn’t help but to like her and by the end of each episode you just knew that she would “make it after all.”
Although Moore is appreciative of the SAG award and other honors that she has received, she is most proud of the work she has performed for juvenile diabetes and animal rights.
Around the time that The Mary Tyler Moore Show launched in 1970, Moore was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, at age 33. Moore later wrote Growing Up Again, which talks about her personal struggle with the disease. She said that when the doctor gave her the diagnosis, she actually had no idea what it meant. She soon learned that it meant being cautious of what you eat, when you eat it and how much you eat. She now carries a loaded syringe with her so that if she eats more than expected she can give herself a quick injection to get her blood sugar back on track.
To fight the disease, which has taken a good deal of her peripheral vision, Moore works out five to six days per week. She says that for a long time she sidelined her diabetes by living a life that included heavy social drinking and smoking and lots of stress. But that has all changed now. She has it under control.
Unlike Paula Deen who chose not to reveal her diabetes diagnosis until recently, Moore has become an advocate for juvenile diabetes. She has served as the International Chair for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for several years and uses her profile to help raise funds along with awareness of the disease.
In 2023, in honor of Moore’s dedication to the Foundation, JDRF created the “Forever Moore” research initiative which supports JDRF’s Academic Research and Development and JDRF’s Clinical Development Program. The program works on translating basic research advances into new treatments and technologies for those living with type 1 diabetes.
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