Mary Tyler Moore (New York, 1936) represents a television that no longer exists, a hardly repeatable myth. The interpreter, a true legend of the small screen, was not only one of the first women to star in a comedy with her name, in The Girl on TV (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970-1977), but she became, along with Carol Burnett, in reference to the comic actresses who came later – from Tina Fey to Ellen Degeneres – and to numerous businesswomen in search of their place. The actress, nominated for an Oscar in 1980 for Ordinary People by Robert Redford, has died this Wednesday in the Connecticut hospital after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest due to pneumonia derived from her diabetes, a disease against which she became an ardent spokesperson.

Tyler Moore began her career as a dancer and with small roles on television, but what gave her her first recognition was being the leading wife (at 24 she was 11 younger than her partner) in the classic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961- 1966), in which he appeared in 158 episodes. Her long signature earned her so that the producer remembered her pizpireta image when they chose her: « the girl with three names ». Laurie Petrie gave her the first of her six Emmys (out of 14 nominations) and one of her three Golden Globes. « I know this won’t happen anymore, » he predicted in his first speech. It was about to change how television watched women forever.

The fame of Carl Reiner’s autobiographical series, the latest entirely in black and white, helped him graduate to color on his own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. James L. Brooks (another great pioneer) and Allan Burns turned her into Mary Richards, a young single, independent, successful, modern and sexually liberated working on a television network. Comedy was made for her. There they talked about equal pay or contraceptives, until then taboo subjects. The girl on TV not only spanned seven seasons, but was responsible for three spin-offs, Phyllis with Cloris Leachman (1975-1976), Rhoda with Valerie Harper (1974-1978), and especially Lou Grant (1977-1982). ), a derivative drama around Ed Asner’s curmudgeonly character.

Precisely from this former women’s team, she said goodbye in her last role, as a guest on the Hot in Cleveland series, in 2013. In a special episode Tyler Moore, Betty White (who had in The Girl on TV) crossed paths again. her big role before The Golden Girls), Harper (who had been diagnosed with lung cancer at the time) and Georgia Hengel. The protagonist has been the first to die of the group.

Tyler Moore, who spent his life interspersing his on-screen career with Broadway, did almost everything on television, from playing Mary Todd Lincoln in a miniseries about the American president to starring in numerous variety specials where he displayed his dancing prowess and the song. However, no other series gave him recognition for those pioneering comedies on the small screen. It was seen, even so, in Those wonderful 70s, Women of Manhattan, The Ellen Degeneres show or Frasier. She did so much on television that she founded her own production company, MTM, responsible for The Bob Newhart Show, Remington Steele, Sad Song of Hill Street and St. Elsewhere.

His films include Richard Donner’s X-15, which was released in theaters, Millie, A Modern Girl (George Roy Hill, 1967), How Beautiful Life Is (George Seaton, 1968), Six Weeks (Tony Bill, 1982), Don’t Just Stand There! and Flirting with disaster (David O. Russell, 1996). She even acted as a nun in the Elvis film Change of Habit (William A. Graham, 1969), although it was Robert Redford’s debut feature that gave her the opportunity to play a role completely opposite to what she had done until then.

Her great achievement, however, was the doors she opened on television to the comic actresses who came later: « It was the only series for which I stayed sleepless as a child. I looked for trouble whenever I kept watching it, » recalled Tina Fey. in a special dedicated to her in 2015. « It changed the world for all women, » Ellen Degeneres applauded on Twitter, referring to her influence on freelancers looking to succeed like Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and many others. As the headline of his series sang: « Light the world with your smile »