Mary Tyler Moore, the legendary star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show whose long award-winning career helped reinvent American notions of womanhood in the 1960s and 70s, died on Wednesday in Greenwich,Connecticut. According to her family, her death was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after a recent bout with pneumonia. Moore was 80.
Moore is famous for her performance as the stylish wife of Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show, a role for which she won two Emmys while the show ran between 1961 and 1966. In the late 60s, she and then-husband Grant Tinker pitched The Mary Tyler Moore Show to CBS — a show about a single woman working and living on her own. The show went on to run from 1970 to 1977, garnering her four Emmy Awards as her character navigated a decidedly male-centric working environment with humor and determination.
In 1972, in the very first episode of the third season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore’s character, Mary Richards took on the gender pay gap in a now legendary scene. Richards had discovered that her boss, Mr. Grant, played by Ed Asner, was paying her less money than the man who preceded her in her role. After questioning Mr. Grant as to why that was, she’s eventually told that while she was better at her job than her predecessor ever was that he had been paid more “because he was a man” and “he had a family to support.” By the end of the episode, Moore was able to convince her boss that he was in the wrong. Forty-five years later, women in America are still fighting to be paid equally with men.
Moore’s portrayal of Richards has influenced the performances of numerous other great female sitcom stars, from Jennifer Aniston to Debra Messing to Tina Fey, who has said that the inspiration for award-winning sitcom 30 Rock came through watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Below, watch the iconic episode where Moore took on the pay gap.