“MTM—not a person in the civilized world doesn’t know what that means: Mary Tyler Moore.” Dick Van Dyke spoke these words at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards ceremony, held in Los Angeles, CA, on January 29. JDRF’s international chairman Mary Tyler Moore was honored that evening by SAG with its Life Achievement Award, presented annually to an actor who fosters the finest ideals of the acting profession.
Mary has garnered seven Emmys, a Tony, and an Academy Award nomination, among numerous industry and philanthropic accolades. She first rose to prominence as an actor in 1961, when, at the age of 23, she was cast as Laura Petrie, the female lead on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Following the show’s success, she was approached by CBS to develop her own television series. The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered in 1970 and was on the air through 1977. Featuring a single, independent, career-oriented woman in the male-dominated profession of TV news broadcasting, the show is still considered a groundbreaking comedy. Alongside her work in television, Mary had a flourishing film career, co-starring with Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967; with Elvis Presley in Change of Habit in 1969; and with Donald Sutherland in Ordinary People in 1980, a performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination. In 1969, she formed her own production company, MTM Enterprises, which has produced a collection of landmark comedies and dramas.
Mary was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 33. She has served as JDRF’s international chairman since 1984. She has chaired the organization’s biennial Children’s Congress since its inception in 1999, leading as many as 200 children with T1D to the halls of Congress in one of the largest advocacy events in Washington, D.C. Mary and her husband, S. Robert Levine, M.D., have been generous supporters of JDRF’s research programs, and in 2003, they established the Excellence in Clinical Research Award in recognition of outstanding diabetes researchers. Mary was honored in 2007 with JDRF’s Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Mary is the author of two autobiographies, both New York Times bestsellers: After All, published in 1995, andGrowing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes. Published in 2009, the book includes a candid account of her life with T1D, accompanied by conversations with others living with the disease as well as those working to cure, better treat, and prevent it. Mary donated the profits from the books to JDRF.
At January’s SAG Award ceremony, Mary was introduced by her friend and colleague of more than 50 years, Dick Van Dyke. “Mary is an actress, a singer, a dancer, a corporate executive, and Oscar nominee—and a person who has given so much of herself to help other people,” he said. JDRF premiered its Forever Moore video tribute at the ceremony, and collected letters of congratulation and thanks from JDRF supporters, volunteers, board members, and staff. “Your contributions are many. Your leadership inspiring. Your courage on display for all of us to see and be motivated by. And your professional talents enjoyed by millions around the world,” said one JDRF contributor. “Thank you … for giving a voice to type 1 diabetes.”