By Ashley Hayes
WebMD Health News
Award-winning actress Mary Tyler Moore, best known for her roles on the television sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died Wednesday. She was 80.
Her family said her death, at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT, was caused by cardiac arrest after she contracted pneumonia, according to The New York Times.
Moore was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in her 30s, when she was hospitalized after having a miscarriage. A routine blood test at the hospital showed an extremely high blood sugar level of 750. She was put on insulin right away.
“It just came on,” she said in 2005. “And I don’t know whether the pregnancy brought it on.”
Although type 1 diabetes can happen at any age, it’s most commonly associated with younger children. If a person has type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin and cannot break down blood sugars. People with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits.
Moore became a well-known spokeswoman and advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She spoke to interviewer Larry King about the need for research toward a cure and how the disease affected her day-to-day life. Moore said she was careful about what she ate, exercised, and checked her blood sugar readings constantly.
“There is no more spontaneity in your life,” Moore told him. “You’re constantly saying, ‘Now, when am I going to have dinner? What time will I take the injection? How am I feeling now? I’d better test my blood.’
“I do that five times a day. And everybody else does. You know, I’m not complaining.”
Asked by King in another interview whether she had any fear tied to diabetes, Moore said, “I live in a kind of controlled awareness. I wouldn’t call it fear, but it’s an awareness. I know I have a responsibility to behave in a certain way. I’m able to do that.”
She said in 2005 that she had problems with her eyes and said her legs hurt if she walked too much. “So I have to stop if I’m walking, and pretending I’m looking in the window, so that I can rest them a little bit and then start off again.”
In recent years, however, the disease took a toll on Moore’s health, and she suffered kidney and heart problems.
In addition, she underwent brain surgery to remove a benign tumor in 2011.
Moore also battled alcoholism, checking into the Betty Ford Center for treatment in the mid-1980s.
“I am glad I was able to be a kind of a role model for other women who identified with my ladylike qualities, who were then able to say, ‘Well, if Mary can admit she had a problem with alcohol, then maybe I can too,” she told Maclean’s magazine in 1986.
Born Dec. 29, 1936, Moore started in show business as a dancer in commercials and made some appearances on television shows.
But she catapulted to fame in 1961, when she was cast as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” debuted in 1970, and Moore starred as television producer Mary Richards. The show was among the first to depict a single successful woman.