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Oprah’s Emotional Tribute to Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore  at the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Red CAs you have probably heard, the legendary Mary Tyler Moore died this week and many have expressed their great sadness at the loss of this cultural icon. One famous voice among the outcry is Oprah Winfrey.

Cultural Impact

In the 70s, The Mary Tyler Moore show became a platform for women’s issues who were trying to break into the workforce. The title character, a single career woman, was going to “make it on her own” and it inspired many others to do the same. It marked a major departure from how women were traditionally portrayed on television and the impact continues to resonate with fans to this day.

Inspired Oprah

Upon learning of Moore’s death, Oprah told People magazine: “Mary Tyler Moore majorly influenced my life and career.  I respected and admired her business acumen, her passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through her storytelling.  I thank her for being a light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in her.”

The 62-year-old media mogul went on to tell Entertainment Tonight: “It’s the first time I would recall a public figure in recent years passing — and we’ve lost so many people recently – where I actually sat down and shed tears about it.”

Considering how many celebrities we’ve lost in the past year, that’s a huge statement and testament to how much Moore meant to Oprah and so many women around the world.

Impromptu Meeting

Oprah went on to describe the time when she was shocked by an impromptu visit by Mary Tyler Moore to her set.

The former talk show host explained: “The moment she surprised me on that show was a life-changing moment for many reasons. First of all, it’s the time I coined the ugly cry. And I went into double, triple overtime. After that I said, ‘Never again!’ I called all my producers together — and that was in 1997 – I said, ‘Never again will I be surprised on the show, and if I’m ever surprised on the show, it will cost whoever produced that show their job.’ Because I could not speak, hear or think!

I can remember that episode. I was just a teenager and I idolized Oprah in some ways so I was so taken aback to see her so humbled, so enamored by Mary Tyler Moore. I think so many people in my generation fail to understand how valuable her influence was during such a pivotal moment in history but seeing Oprah completely bowled over really spoke volumes.

“Paved the Way”

Oprah’s praise didn’t end with a couple of interviews yesterday, though. She took to social media to also express her grief and gratitude.

On Twitter, she wrote in reference to a production still from Moore’s visit to the Oprah show: “Even now looking at this picture I want to cry. I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever.”

She went on to describe Moore as a “role model” and explained: “Mary Tyler Moore first gave me the idea that you can own your own show and produce it. She was the one… She paved the way through storytelling for women and was a value system for women without even knowing it. So, her legacy will live on in ways I know the creators of [The Mary Tyler Moore Show] never even imagined.”

Oprah expressed gratitude that she was able to let Moore know how much she meant to her during that visit in 1997. In turn, Oprah has gone on to inspire many as a result. It’s a beautiful thing.

Oprah’s Emotional Tribute to Mary Tyler Moore

Jeanne Croteau

Jeanne has been a celebrity blogger for eight years and also teaches psychology at the college level. In addition to her passion for mental health, she is an avid reader, hockey fan and mother of four.

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APA Reference
Croteau, J. (2017). Oprah’s Emotional Tribute to Mary Tyler Moore. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Jan 2017
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