Here are a few roles for which she is perhaps best known.
1. Laura Petrie, "The Dick Van Dyke Show": "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was based on the life of creator Carl Reiner, and starred Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie and Moore as his wife, Laura. The series ran from 1961 until 1966, and garnered the actress two Emmy Awards, as well as a famous catchphrase: "Oh Rob!"
Playing Laura also allowed Moore, who at that time, had mostly dramatic acting experience, to hone her comedy chops. She recalled in an interview with with the Archive of American Television that Lucille Ball visited the set from time to time and confirmed to her that she had talent. "She said, 'You're very good,' and then walked on," Moore said. "That was the greatest gift I ever received in this business. I don't think I have another moment that compares with the impact of those words."
2. Mary Richards, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show": After "The Dick Van Dyke Show" ended, Moore pitched her own eponymous series that focused on a hungry young journalist, Mary Richards (Moore), and her life at work and as a single woman in Minneapolis. The series was lauded for bringing light to social issues, including equal pay for women and other feminist topics. The effect it had on audiences was huge.
"Now that it has been seen by people who were young adults then who are now mature, they are coming to me with tears in their eyes or a lump in the throat saying, 'You got me through some really tough moments,' or, 'I was able to escape some really ugly stuff that was going on in my home at the time,' or, 'You're the reason I'm in journalism today,'" she recalled in her interview with the Archive of American Television. "Very few of us are lucky enough to, at the end of our life, know we were here for some purpose and I am going to be one of those lucky few. I know I served some people very well." The show was so successful that it spawned several spin-offs, including "Rhoda" and "Phyllis," in which Moore made guest appearances.
3. Beth Jarrett, "Ordinary People": Moore returned to drama with her role Beth Jarrett, as an angry mother of two, whose older son has died and whose younger son recently attempted suicide. The role, which earned Moore an Oscar nomination, was a sharp departure from the cheerier roles audiences had become accustomed to seeing her play, which she said was an exciting shift.
"I hope that as time goes by, and with each succeeding venture, I will dispel that image [of perfection], to a degree anyway," she told Rolling Stone. "It's hard to beat four episodes a day of the same character, and that's what I'm up against. It's wonderful corporately, but as an actress, it's a real killer. Still, I think it can be done."
She also identified with the role. Off-screen, Moore had a complicated relationship with her son, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after the film premiered in 1980. "I think that, as a mother, there was a part of me that was very much like Beth in 'Ordinary People,' to the detriment of my relationship with my son. Our relationship never really developed to the point where we could have fun together--not as often as we should have," she told Rolling Stone. "As I look back on it, I demanded a great deal of him, and I wanted near perfection from him early on, far earlier than he was capable of establishing his own ideas of what perfection is. Then you think, 'God, even if you decide what it is for yourself, don't shoot for perfection--there is no such thing.'"
5. Georgia Tann, "Stolen Babies": In 1993, Moore starred as Georgia Tann, the woman behind the Tennessee Children's Home Society in the Lifetime TV movie, "Stolen Babies." Inspired by the true story, the role won Moore her seventh Emmy, this time for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or special.