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How Each Mary Tyler Moore Show Cast Member Died

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a hugely influential -not to mention ridiculously popular – American sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns starring the actress who lent her namesake to the program, Mary Tyler Moore. The lighthearted and witty show aired on CBS from September 19, 1970, to March 19, 1977. Moore portrayed Mary Richards, an unmarried, fiercely independent woman. She focused on her career as an associate producer of the fictional WJM news program in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A leading female character who neither married nor dependent upon a man was a rarity on American television back in the 1970s. As such, many publications declared The Mary Tyler Moore Show to be a groundbreaking series in the era of second-wave feminism.

Ed Asner played Mary’s Boss Lou Grant while actress Valerie Harper cast as Mary’s friend and neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern. Cloris Leachman landed the role of Mary’s landlady Phyllis Lindstrom. Other actors featured throughout the iconic series’ seven-season run included Gavin Macleod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, and Betty White.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tyler Moore Show defined by its complex, realistic cast of characters and believable story arcs. In stark contrast to the simplistic plots and characters typically featured on television at that time. It received consistently glowing reviews from critics and enjoyed high ratings during its time on the air. The series earned twenty-nine Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row from 1975 to 1977. Moore herself the recipient of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a comedy series a total of three times as well.

The wildly popular comedy also birthed three spin-off series Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant and in 2013; the Writers Guild of America honored The Mary Tyler Moore Show by listing it as number 6 on their list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.

While The Mary Tyler Moore Show is without a doubt one of the most important sitcoms to ever hit the small screen. Unfortunately, almost every major cast member and the majority of its supporting cast. As well are no longer living to enjoy the show’s enduring popularity and legacy. In this video, we’re going to tell you how each member of its cast passed away.

Mary Tyler Moore – Mary Richards

Without a doubt, nobody besides Mary Tyler Moore could have embodied the role of Mary Richards like she did. Before signing on to the series that shared her name; She had a recurring role as Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966. Throughout her career, she won seven Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards.

In addition to being an accomplished actress, Moore was an outspoken advocate for animal rights, vegetarianism, and diabetes prevention.

Moore was a recovering alcoholic who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1969 after having a miscarriage. In 2011 she had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor called a meningioma. In 2014, it’s reported that she had heart and kidney problems in addition to being almost entirely blind due to complications of her diabetes.

Moore passed away from cardiopulmonary arrest complicated by pneumonia on January 25, 2017, at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was 80 years old.

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And make sure you stick around to see which actors and actresses from The Mary Tyler Moore Show have died and which ones are still alive and kicking.

Gavin MacLeod – Murray Slaughter

Macleod is perhaps best known for playing Merrill Stubing, the ship’s captain, on ABC’s The Love Boat. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, he portrayed Murray Slaughter, Mary’s closest coworker and friend. After appearing in 168 episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MacLeod continued to work in television up until a decade before his death appearing in show’s like Murder She Wrote, Oz, Jag, Touched By An Angel, That 70s Show, and most recently in 2011s animated children series Pound Puppies where he voiced the character, Captain Gumble.

MacLeod died at his home in Palm Desert, California on May 29, 2021, at the age of 90 after a brief period of battling undisclosed health issues. No specific cause of death given.

Ted Knight – Tex Baxter

While he’s best known for his role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Knight also appeared in the ABC sitcom Too Close For Comfort as the character Henry Rush. You might also remember him as Judge Elihu Smails in Caddyshack.

Sadly, just a few months after The Mary Tyler Moore Show wrapped up in 1977, Knight diagnosed with colon cancer. After receiving various kinds of treatments for the disease, his cancer briefly went into remission but in 1985; it returned with a vengeance. Despite undergoing vigorous treatments, the cancer began to spread throughout his bladder and gastrointestinal tract.

His condition continued to decline but he kept working despite his doctor’s recommendation to take it easy. Knight died on August 26, 1986, at age 62.

Valerie Harper – Rhoda Morgenstern

While Harper best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Rhoda. She’s also remember for appearing in shows like Chapter Two in 1979 and Valerie which ran from 1986 to 1987. She later returned to her first love, theater, appearing in several Broadway productions. In 2010, she honored with a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Tallulah Bankhead in the stage play Looped.

In 2009, Harper diagnosed with lung cancer and in 2013 she revealed she also had leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. A rare disorder where cancerous cells spread into the membranes surrounding the brain. She further revealed that her doctors had given her as little as three months to live.

Fortunately, she defied medical expectations and continued to live while receiving regular chemotherapy treatments to slow the spread of her cancer. But by 2019, she was on a regimen of various medications and chemotherapy drugs. And was reportedly experiencing a great deal of physical pain and challenges that required her to receive around-the-clock medical care. She passed away on the morning of August 30, 2019, at the age of 80.

Cloris Leachman – Phyllis Lindstrom

Leachman’s career as an actress and comedian spanned more than seven decades. Throughout that time, she justifiably won many accolades including eight Primetime Emmy Awards. With 22 nominations, she tied with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for being the most nominated and awarded actress.

In addition to having a thriving career in television, Leachman also a highly sought-after film star. She’s a part of Mel Brook’s ensemble cast and appeared in films such as Young Frankenstein and History of the World, Part 1.

Some of her later credits include roles in shows and films like Malcolm in the Middle, Spanglish, Mrs. Harris, Raising Hope, and Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky.

Leachman died in her sleep at her home in Encinitas, California on January 27, 2021. She was 94 years old. The cause of death determined to be the result of a stroke with COVID-19 as a contributing factor.

Nancy Walker – Ida Morgenstern

Walker is best remembered for her role as Mildred on McMillan and Wife and Ida Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She later reprised that role and became a prominent recurring character on the spin-off series Rhoda.

Walker was a life-long heavy smoker. At the age of 69, she died of lung cancer in Studio City, California on March 25, 1992.

Georgia Engel – Georgette Franklin Baxter

After playing Georgette Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1972 to 1977; Engel continued to act for several decades. She notably portrayed Pat MacDougall on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond from 2003 to 2005. Throughout her career, Engel received a total of five Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Engel died on April 12, 2019, at the age of 70 in Princeton, New Jersey. The cause of death was unknown. but since she was an adherent of Christian Science, she did not consult doctors due to her religious beliefs.

Alright, so we’ve covered the majority of former Mary Tyler Moore Show cast members that sadly are no longer with us. But let’s take a brief moment to recognize the stars of that series that are still alive and well.

Betty White – Sue Ann Nivens

White is widely regarded as a pioneer of television. Her career in the entertainment industry spans over 90 years. And she was one of the first women to take the reigns of control in front of and behind the camera. She is also the first woman to produce a sitcom – Life With Elizabeth.

White has worked longer on television than anyone else in the history of the industry and awarded the Guinness World Record for that feat in 2018. She has received 8 Emmy Awards in Various Categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards. And a Grammy for her countless contributions to the realm of entertainment.

We would need to devote several videos to list off just a fraction of her many accomplishments, accolades, and credits. But we’re thrilled to see that Ms. White is still alive, doing well, and still somewhat `active in both film and television. One of her most recent critically applauded roles was as Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot In Cleveland. And in 2019 she provided the voice for the character Bitey White in Pixar’s Toy Story 4.

Betty is 99 years old and still appears to be in reasonably good health considering her age. Hopefully she will continue to stick around for a while; but as we all know, health can deteriorate fairly quickly especially when you’re that old. So let’s treasure her while she is still with us. Because she is one of the last of a dying breed of living legends that the world will never see again.

Ed Asner – Lou Grant

Asner has had a prolific career in television as an actor, voice artist, and as the former president of the Screen Actors Guild. He is one of the last surviving regular cast members of both The Mary Tyler Moore Show; and its spin-off series Lou Grant.

Impressively, he is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards having won seven. Following the cancelation of both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant. Asner continued to remain active in Hollywood all the way up to the present day. Most recently he appeared in the sixth season of The Good Wife and in a 2020 episode of Modern Family. He has also had a recurring role as James Staghorne Sr. on Briarpatch.

Well, here we are once again at the end of another facts-packed video. Hopefully, we’ve honored all of these fallen stars appropriately by celebrating their careers and many accomplishments.

But now’s your turn to speak your mind. In the comments section below, let us know which trailblazing sitcom you liked the most. The Mary Tyler Moore Show or The Dick Van Dyke Show.

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