Mary Tyler Moore's Life Outside Hollywood

Her work as an advocate and an author.

ByMichael Rothman
January 25, 2017, 4:04 PM

— -- Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday at the age of 80, her rep confirmed to ABC News.

The iconic actress delighted fans on shows opposite the likes of Dick Van Dyke before headlining her own show for the better part of the 1970s. She continued to work through the '80s and '90s and even guest-starred on TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" series in 2013.

But Moore was much more than an actress. She was also an accomplished author, a notable advocate for those suffering from diabetes and a supporter of various other causes.

Diabetes Advocate

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 33, Moore said in interviews that the condition affected her daily life greatly. She said she was diagnosed after she suffered a miscarriage, which was also around the time she was going to start her own show, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

"So that was a very difficult time for me to accept that, to try and understand it, because back then, nobody really knew what diabetes was," she told the Academy of American Television in 2010. "It took me a while [to talk about it]."

But she eventually became a spokeswoman and an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, appearing in commercials and traveling to events all over the globe.

She wrote memoirs about living with the condition, including 2009's "Growing Up Again: Life, Loves and Oh Yeah, Diabetes."

"Once I realized that I was too concerned with the ifs and maybes of how my personal history would be received, I called on my own common sense and realized it was an opportunity to help an enormous number of people. That's what drives me to do absolutely whatever it takes to help find a cure," she told Success magazine in 2009 about her book and her charity work.

She donated proceeds from that book to the JDRF.

She lobbied the government in Washington, D.C., to help as well. On more than one occasion in the 2000s, she testified before Congress, asking legislators to up funding for juvenile diabetes.

Moore was candid about what the condition cost her. "My peripheral vision has been severely limited because of my diabetes, which means I can see just fine looking straight ahead. But if I am at a function with lots of people, I am constantly bumping into people — even kicking them! I have to maintain a sense of humor about the whole thing or else I would never go out," she told Success. "When I speak to those who are newly diagnosed, I encourage them to work with what they have — not against those things."

Through the years, Moore co-founded and supported other organizations that fought for animal rights, including Farm Sanctuary and Broadway Barks, which holds dog adoption events in New York City. She was a strong supporter of adopting shelter animals.

Her Struggles With Alcoholism and as a Mother

In her 1995 memoir "After All," she wrote at length about her struggles with alcoholism.

"I went to the Betty Ford Center and got a lot of education there and a lot of spirit and determination. Somebody said something — it's a cliche, you've heard it 100 times, but they say if you want to get all the air out of a glass, what do you do? There's no way to do it but fill it with something else. And that something else is joy of living, reading, being creative, know you're doing the right thing," she told Larry King in 2005.

PHOTO: The book cover of Mary Tyler Moore's memoirs "After All," 1995.
The book cover of Mary Tyler Moore's memoirs "After All," 1995.
Amazon

She also spoke out about her shortcomings as a mother to her son, Richie Meeker, who died in 1980 at the age of 24 after an accident involving a shotgun.

She wrote in her 1995 memoir that she felt she wasn't home enough and spent too much time at work. Before his death, Meeker dealt with a drug problem, and though she said she helped him recover, she wrote that she missed events like his high school graduation because of work.

"There is no question about it. By the time Richie was 5, I had already let him down. When he needed me the most, I was busier and even more self-concerned than I had been when he was an impressionable infant," she wrote in "After All," according to an excerpt obtained by People magazine.

Years later, she said she still regretted not being there enough for her son before his death. She also regretted not having more children.

"I still feel as if I weren't a good enough mother. I didn't break any rules. I didn't cause my son any pain. But I did bring to my life some of my father, who was very controlling and very remote. I was working a lot. I wasn't there enough," she told Parade magazine in 2009.

Moore was married three times: to Dick Meeker, Richie Meeker's father, from 1955 to 1961; Grant Tinker from 1962 to 1981; and Robert Levine in 1983.

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