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Beloved actor Mary Tyler Moore, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Moore brought wit and grace to her performances. She was modern woman incarnate on two top-rated television shows in the 1960s and ’70s. She changed television by ushering in a bold new vision of American womanhood.

Here are some awesome facts you probably didn’t know about the iconic star.

1. Moore starred as TV’s OG Independent Woman

The Mary Tyler Moore Show actually is not the first television sitcom to star a single lady as the lead, but it definitely paved the way for professional single women shows in the coming years. It quickly overshadowed its only predecessor, That Girl (ABC, 1966-1971), when it premiered on CBS in 1970. Moore’s character, Mary Richards, was a 30-something, never-married (she left her fiancee at the altar), successful television producer who remained single and proud during the entire run of the show. The Mary Tyler Moore Show also gave us a quartet of notable female characters — Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper, who who would spin-off the character in Rhoda), Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) and Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel). The Mary Tyler Moore Show went on to win 29 Emmys during its seven-year run, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. In the show’s finale, the cast was the first in TV history to break the fourth wall and take a final bow to the audience. This has since become a tradition among many sitcoms even today.

Another fun fact: The Mary Tyler Moore Show is first show in history that dared to mention birth control, which Mary Richards was taking.

2. Moore started a wardrobe controversy

On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Moore was the first woman on a sitcom to wear pants. Moore insisted that all the housewives she knew in real life wore pants. She was allowed to continue wearing them. Sponsors were so angry about it, writers limited her to one pants scene per episode. As a result, capri pants became a popular fad with women across the U.S.

3. Moore was an advocate against Diabetes

Moore was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 33, which she discusses in her book Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes. She became international chair of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in 2001 and testified before Congress to promote stem-cell research as a way of curing it.

Moore was also a strong animal rights activist.

4. The iconic beret was a gift from Moore’s aunt

Remember that iconic hat toss in the air at the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s opening credits? That was no prop. It was actually Moore’s personal hat that was given to her from her aunt.

“It was a hat that my aunt had given me for Christmas, and I brought it with me because they said: ‘Be sure and dress warm. It’s going to be freezing in Minneapolis.’ So – I forget which writer it was – but we were all outside, and he said: ‘You know what would be good? If you take that hat, the beret, and throw it in the air.’ “

The shot was also done on the sly. That’s right. No one in the shot besides Mary Tyler Moore knew they were being filmed. The show used hidden cameras to achieve a more authentic feel.

5. Moore is a descendant of Lt. Col. Lewis T. Moore

While Commanding the 4th Va. Infantry, Lt. Col. Moore offered his home in Winchester, Va. to be used as the headquarters for Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. It was from there that Jackson was able to plan the Shenandoah Valley Campaign 1861-1862. The house was purchased and converted into a museum in the 1960s, housing much of Stonewall Jackson‘s memorabilia. Mary helped pay for the restoration of the house, which is now a National Historic Landmark.

About author View all posts

Christina E. Janke

Christina is the co-host of “Intro to Geek” on Shauncastic and Editor-in-Chief at Agents of Geek. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Gail Simone. She hopes to be just like them when she grows up.

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