Mary Tyler Moore, the legendary sitcom star who inspired the lyrics “who can turn the world on with her smile?”, died today at the age of 80. Moore’s TV career took her from small, offscreen roles to feminist icon, and she could count many of her contemporaries as fans. When the news broke, her Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Ed Asner was one of many actors and comedians who shared their condolences online.
Viola Davis credited the late icon with “changing the face of TV.” Jenny Slate paid homage to “TV’s modern woman,” while George Takei evoked the MTM theme song.
Denis Leary shared a powerful quote of Moore’s, while Sandra Bernhard recalled how the veteran actress led a generation of women to believe they were “going to make it after all.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Gates McFadden also credited Moore as an inspiration, both on and off camera.
Josh Gad and The Office’s Jim O’Heir, meanwhile, could only say how much it hurts.
Lena Dunham and her fellow Girls showrunner Jenni Konner both released statements about Moore’s impact. Dunham said:
Mary Tyler Moore’s humor, style and vulnerability have had a profound influence on me as a television creator and on every woman I know working in television to upend expectations of traditional femininity. Her remarkable presence and ahead of her time ability to expose the condition of single working womanhood with humor and pathos will never be forgotten. Her generosity as an animal rights activist and icon will never be forgotten. I never met her and I’ll love her forever. I know I’m one of millions.
Konner added that she tells young writers to seek out The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Whenever a young writer asks me for advice about pilots, I tell them to watch Mary Tyler Moore. It will show you everything you need to know about three dimensional character and graceful exposition. But it will also show you an actor who was at once a comic genius and the most grounded of performers. And boy, could she dance. What a huge loss but how lucky we were to have her and see her grow and change from Ordinary People to Flirting with Disaster. She never rested on her America’s Sweetheart laurels, though that certainly would’ve been enough. Thank you Mary, for making GIRLS and basically everything I love on TV possible.
Additional reporting by Esther Zuckerman.