Mary’s Story

Mary Tyler Moore, a cherished figure in the hearts of many, graced the stage and screen with her unparalleled talent. Her infectious spirit, joy for life, and undeniable spunk left an enduring imprint on the world.

Mary was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 33 years old. She lived with diabetes and suffered its burdens for most of her life. Diabetes stole her independence and joy, because diabetes stole her vision. While Mary did not see a cure for diabetes in her lifetime, her legacy of leading efforts to ensure that future generations would not have to suffer as she did lives on through our work.

Her life story has many facets, each remarkable in its own way.

Mary the Gifted Performer

It all started with dance

It all started with dance

Mary’s passion for dance, which she discovered at a young age, played a pivotal role in shaping her life and career.  Through dance, she found true joy, understood timing, learned the importance of hard work and collaboration, and became one of the most influential figures in the entertainment world. She was an award-winning actor, author, media executive, and co-founder, with her then-husband, Grant Tinker, of the game-changing TV production company, MTM Enterprises.

Her journey began with iconic roles starting with Laura Petrie in the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” widely honored as one of the best sitcoms of all time. Her 1970s portrayal of Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” made her the first single career woman on television not obsessed with finding a man, with a rich life filled with her work and a group of strong women friends.

Through her timeless performances, Mary reshaped how women were portrayed on TV. She showcased a forward-thinking, fearless, yet vulnerable character who spoke her mind. She became a role model for independent working women, paving the way for future generations.

Mary captivated audiences with her charisma, talent, and smile

Mary captivated audiences with her charisma, talent, and smile

Whether performing on television, in film, or on a theater stage, Mary captivated audiences with her charisma, talent, and a smile that could turn on the world. Mary won seven Emmy Awards in her career and was nominated for an Academy Award for her powerful portrayal of a grieving mother in the film “Ordinary People.” She also won numerous Golden Globe and People’s Choice Awards, was inducted into the TV Comedy Hall of Fame, and received a special Tony Award for her role in the play “Whose Life is it Anyway?” a role in which she was the first woman to replace a man in a leading role on Broadway.

Mary was the best-selling author of two autobiographies, After All and Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes. Since her passing, her extraordinary life and career has continued to be recognized. The 2023 HBO documentary, “Being Mary Tyler Moore,” won a Critic’s Choice Documentary Award, was nominated for an Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Special,’ a Producers Guild Award for ‘Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction in Television,’ and was honored as an official selection at the SXSW Film & TV Festival.

Mary the Diabetes Defier

At 33 years old, Mary was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes

Mary fought diabetes with grit and grace. But no matter how brave or tireless she was, even she couldn’t stop the relentless damage diabetes wrought. Mary was able to manage through the numbness and loss of position sense due to her diabetic neuropathy. She trained herself to overcome the exertional pain of her peripheral vascular disease and was able to gain further relief from vascular surgery.

But what she could never overcome was the vision-stealing impact of diabetic retinal disease, as it stole her vision and her joy. This once fiercely independent woman could no longer work, dance, walk safely across a room, or read.

As much as diabetes took away, Mary never stopped fighting—for herself and others.


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.”

— Mary Tyler Moore

The Tireless Advocate

Mary’s openness about her life with diabetes made her a role model for people with the disease. She believed in educating not only those with diabetes but also the broader community.

Refusing to succumb, Mary transformed her struggle into a powerful force for change. She became the International Chairman of Breakthrough T1D (Formerly JDRF) and helped raise billions of dollars for research. She advocated for research funding in front of Congress and various administrations, dedicating herself to finding cures for diabetes and its complications.

Mary symbolized hope for people battling diabetes. Her courage in the face of long-term complications, including vision loss and blindness, lent strength to others facing the same fear.

Help us carry Mary’s commitment to finding cures forward and make her dream of a world without vision loss and blindness from diabetes a reality.

Take Action

Donate to Advance Research for a World without Vision Loss and Blindness from Diabetes

The sight you help save may be your own or that of someone you love.

Donate to Advance Research for a World without Vision Loss and Blindness from Diabetes