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She Turned the World on with a Smile

Mary Tyler Moore: Life of Triumph

Statue+of+Mary+Tyler+Moore+in+Minneapolis
Statue of Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis

Statue of Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis

Statue of Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis

Caroline VanDam, Junior Writer

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       Even though she was a TV legend on comedy shows, she was first and foremost someone who always looked for the truth even it was not funny. As a star on The Dick Van Dyke Show she portrayed a sophisticated young housewife and mother, and later portrayed a TV producer on the Mary Tyler Moore show. As a woman of authority, she reflected a strong sense of autonomy, determination, and strength.   During the sixties and seventies America was seeing the full bloom of the women’s movement with the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), feminist marches, and demands for equal work. Mary did it right in front of living rooms with that famous, beautiful smile.

       Although that smile lit up the world, she faced a grim, health challenge and brought worldwide attention to millions who suffer from Diabetes.  She became a champion for a cure, as well as early detection and care for juveniles with Diabetes. Life imitated art in the form of the TV sitcom. On the MTM show, Mary was just as much a champion for the right to a free press. In season five, in the first episode of The MTM show Mary goes to jail for refusing to reveal her source.

       This intelligent drive and principled focus in her real life, but especially as a TV role model brought a wave of change for young, single women advancing careers. Weekly, generations of girls watched Mary weekly face the challenges of a society shifting in attitudes about working women. Although she has been off the airwaves for more than four decades, it is a testament to her triumphs and star status, that she is remember both lovingly, as well as profoundly as a cultural icon. She inspired many female journalists, and TV producers and scores of women to enter the workforce. Most notably America’s favorite and very own cultural icon Oprah Winfrey reached heights well beyond her girlhood dreams, which goes to show that a girl with a little spunk and determination can prove “you’re gonna make it after all.”

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