Mary Tyler Moore (born December 29, 1936) is an American actress, primarily known for her roles in television sitcoms. Moore is best known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77), in which she starred as Mary Richards, a 30-something single woman who worked as a local news producer in Minneapolis, and for her earlier role as Laura Petrie (Dick Van Dyke's wife) on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–66). She also appeared in a number of films, most notably 1980's Ordinary People, in which she played a role that was the polar opposite of the television characters she had portrayed, and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Moore has also been active in charity work and various political causes, particularly around the issues of Animal rights and Diabetes mellitus type 1. Mary Tyler Moore has had health problems with diabetes, starting in the late 1960s and alcoholism, which was treated in the 1980s. In May 2011, Moore underwent elective brain surgery to remove a benign meningioma.
Mary Tyler Moore was born in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, of Irish and English descent, to George Tyler Moore, a clerk, and his wife Marjorie Hackett. Her father was Roman Catholic and her mother a Catholic convert. Mary was the eldest of three siblings. Her maternal grandparents were immigrants from England. Her paternal great-grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore, owned the house which is now Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters Museum. Moore's family moved to Los Angeles, when she was eight years old. She attended Saint Rose of Lima, a Catholic school in Brooklyn, followed by St. Ambrose School (Los Angeles) and the Immaculate Heart High School (Los Feliz).
At the age of 17, Moore aspired to be a dancer. She started her career as "Happy Hotpoint", a tiny elf dancing on Hotpoint appliances in TV commercials during the 1950s series Ozzie and Harriet. She filmed 39 TV commercials in five days, ultimately earning about $6,000 from her first job. Her time as "Happy Hotpoint" ended when it became difficult to conceal her pregnancy in the dancing elf costume. Moore modeled anonymously on the covers of a number of record albums and auditioned for the role of the older daughter of Danny Thomas for his long-running TV show, but was turned down. Much later, Thomas explained that "no daughter of mine could have that nose."