Renowned actress, producer and humanitarian Mary Tyler Moore will receive Screen Actors Guild (SAG)’s most prestigious accolade – the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Moore created a new paradigm for female leads in television, won top honors for her courageous performances in film, television and on stage, produced some of the most lauded television programs of all time, and for thirty years, has served as a tireless advocate giving hope to all those afflicted with Type 1 diabetes.
Moore will be presented the Award, given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which premieres live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT and 5 p.m. PT.
In making today’s announcement, Screen Actors Guild National President Ken Howard said, “Mary Tyler Moore won our hearts as Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, our respect as her production company became synonymous with quality television, our awe as she tackled difficult subject matter in film and on Broadway, and our admiration she turned her public recognition into a catalyst to draw attention to critical and deeply personal health and social issues. She truly embodies the spirit behind SAG’s Life Achievement Award, and we are honored to proclaim her as its 48th recipient.”
Holder of seven Emmys®, a Tony® and an Academy Award® nomination, among numerous industry and philanthropic accolades, Mary Tyler Moore first rose to prominence when she was cast at 23 as Dick Van Dyke’s wife in his eponymous sitcom, based loosely on the experiences of comedy writer Carl Reiner. Smart, feisty and down-to-earth in capri pants and fashionable tops, Moore’s Laura Petrie was new kind of television wife and mother. The audiences loved her and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded her two Emmys and a nomination during the show’s five-year run.
Following “The Dick Van Dyke Show’s” successful run, Moore combined her acting, singing and dancing talents in 1967 as Julie Andrew’s co-star in the 1920’s film musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” She was Elvis Presley’s final leading lady in 1969’s “Change of Habit” and the same year made her television movie debut in the drama “Run A Crooked Mile.”
When CBS beckoned with the offer to develop her own television series, Moore formed a production company, MTM, with her then husband Grant Tinker. Their groundbreaking comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” premiered on September 19, 1970. While other comedies had been set in the workplace, Moore’s chronicled the career, friendships and dating life of a single, thirtyish, spunky, independent, career woman, in the unseen world of local TV news. With a brilliant cast, the character-driven series redefined the meaning of ensemble comedy and of family. In its seven-year run garnered 29 Emmys, including four for its star. Nearly 25 years later Moore was present as TV Land dedicated a statue in downtown Minneapolis depicting the iconic moment in the show’s opening credit’s when a hopeful Mary Richards tosses her hat in the air.
Moore and Tinker’s MTM Enterprises continued to produce an impressive list of landmark comedies and dramas including “The Bob Newhart Show”, “Newhart, “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Hill Street Blues” “The White Shadow” (starring current SAG president Ken Howard) and “St. Elsewhere,” Characters from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” became the focus for several successful spin-offs in the 1970s: “Rhoda,” starring Valerie Harper; “Phyllis,” starring Cloris Leachman; and “Lou Grant,” starring Ed Asner (SAG’s 38th Life Achievement recipient), which significantly took Asner’s gruff but soft-hearted journalist from TV newsroom comedy into a hard-hitting newspaper-set drama.
Moore showcased her dramatic talent in her Emmy-nominated depiction of TV correspondent Betty Rollin’s battle with breast cancer in the 1978 CBS telefilm “First You Cry.” In 1980 Moore was nominated for an Oscar® for her riveting portrayal of Beth Jarrett, a bitter mother coping with the death of one son and the attempted suicide of another in the Robert Redford-directed drama “Ordinary People.” The same year she continued to explore painful subject matter onstage in the hit Broadway play “Whose Life Is It, Anyway?” which earned her a Tony for playing a quadriplegic sculptor fighting to determine her own destiny, a role originated by Tom Conti and rewritten for its female star in her Broadway debut.
Other feature films include: “Six Weeks,” opposite Dudley Moore; David O, Russell’s “Flirting with Disaster”; and Peter Calahan’s dark comedy Against The Current, opposite Joseph Fiennes and Justin Kirk, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Moore’s success in telefilms has continued across decades: In 1984, she delivered an Emmy-nominated performance in the ABC television movie “Heartsounds” opposite James Garner (SAG’s 41st Life Achievement recipient),; received a Cable Ace nomination for HBO’s “Finnegan Begin Again” opposite Robert Preston and Sam Waterson; delivered a stunning portrayal of disturbed first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in the 1988 NBC miniseries “Gore Vidal’s Lincoln;” and won her seventh Emmy in 1993 for her performance as a spinster trafficking in illegal adoption in Lifetime’s “Stolen Babies.”
Other telefilm credits include TNT’s “Miss Lettie and Me” and the CBS television films “Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes”; “Snow Wonder”; and “Blessings” based on the Anna Quindlan novel. She and Dick Van Dyke showcased their old spark in a PBS version of D. L. Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning nursing home-set stage play “The Gin Game,” then reunited with a large number of their former cast mates in TV Land’s nostalgic “The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.”
Moore’s television guest roles include: a recurring run as Tea Leoni’s mother “The Naked Truth,” an appearance as Ellen DeGeneres’s Aunt Mary in a Christmas episode of “Ellen,” a recurring stint as a high-strung TV host on “That 70’s Show” and a multi-episode arc in NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle.” This year, on the season premiere of “Hot in Cleveland,” Moore reunited onscreen with Betty White for the first time since “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” sharing a jail cell with White’s character, Elka, who was arrested in the season one cliffhanger.
Moore returned to the stage in 1987 to star opposite Lynn Redgrave in A. R. Gurney Jr.’s “Sweet Sue” and has performed numerous benefit readings of Gurney’s two-person “Love Letters,” starring opposite James Earl Jones to benefit, the Poughkeepsie Day School, Patrick Stewart to benefit the Ethical Culture School and Gene Wilder for the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center Association, as well as opposite Gurney himself.
Moore’s first autobiography, “After All,” published in 1995, was a frank exploration of her childhood, personal challenges and career. Her second book, “Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes” is a candid, humorous and illuminating detailing of her battles with the disease since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (then called “juvenile diabetes” for its prevalence among children) in 1970 at age 33. The book includes conversations with remarkable people who live with the disease and those who work on the frontiers of medical research. Moore donated all her profits from “Growing Up Again” to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world’s leading funder and advocate for Type 1 diabetes science.
Moore has been JDRF’s International Chairman since 1984. She has also chaired JDRF’s biennial Children’s Congress since its inception in 1999, leading up to 200 children with Type 1 diabetes to Washington, D.C. to meet face-to-face with congressional representatives. Moore has been at the vanguard of JDRF’s visit on Capitol Hill, testifying before the House and Senate on behalf of increased National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for Type 1 diabetes, which affects as many as 3 million children and adults. Moore and her husband, Dr. S Robert Levine, have been generous supporters of JDRF’s research programs and in 2003 established JDRF’s “Excellence in Clinical Research Award” in recognition of outstanding diabetes researchers. She herself was honored by JDRF in 2007 with its Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Among many other accolades, Moore received the 1984 Women in Film Crystal Award, was immortalized in 1992 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was presented with the American Screenwriters Association first David Angell Humanitarian Award in 2002 and in 2009 was honored with the National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award.