It’s been six years since Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80, but she’s still missed by millions of fans to this day. In a new interview, her husband Dr. Robert Levine is opening about how difficult Moore’s final years were for her.
Moore became a household name in the 1950s on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” before being given her own iconic program “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s. While she was known for her impeccable comedic timing, Moore’s life behind the scenes was filled with challenges.
One of the biggest obstacles that Moore was faced with came when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 33 following a miscarriage. She dealt with the disease for decades, but it made her final years extremely difficult for her.
“Over time, she suffered many of the complications of diabetes,” Levine told Fox News. “But the one thing that had the greatest impact on her was the fact that she was nearly blinded by it in her later years. Mary had such narrowed visual fields and such limited central vision that she was unable to read.”
“She was unable to walk across a room safely without bumping into things or tripping over things,” he continued. “And for a woman who was in her heart a dancer and so physically capable and so independent, just imagine what that would mean to you, to have your joy robbed from you. Visual loss from diabetes was a big issue for Mary.”
A new documentary about Moore entitled “Being Mary Tyler Moore” is set to air on HBO tonight, and you can check out a trailer for that in the video below.
Levine was Moore’s third husband, and they were married from 1983 until her death in 2017. Though Moore was 17 years older than him, Levine recalled that they fell for one another right away.
“We all walk into relationships with baggage,” Levine stated. “I was a young doctor. I had no expectation in my life of actually ever having a relationship with anything or anyone other than medicine. That was my calling. That’s what I was committed to.”
“When we met, I was not prepared to have a relationship with anyone,” he added. “But as you see in her work, there was something so compelling about Mary, so genuine, so approachable. And all my usual barriers to interaction with people, my fears, were kind of reduced. They were eliminated.”
Moore never let her diabetes hold her back, and she always used her platform to help others in her situation.
“Mary was just an enormous role model for an entire community of people with diabetes,” said Levine. “Her leadership raised awareness about the disease, its challenges and the hope for research. She helped raise billions of dollars for the support of diabetes research.”
“She was an advocate in front of Congress and in front of administrations,” he continued. “She knew she was someone the world loved, appreciated and trusted. And as someone who was personally living with diabetes, she wanted to help. She was determined to make a difference… Her last chapter was really about advocacy and social purpose.”
These days, Levine spends much of his time doing advocacy work with the Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative, a research program that aims to “preserve and restore vision in people with diabetes” so that they “can live joyful and independent lives free from the fear and suffering of vision loss.”
“She genuinely did not want the next generation to suffer in the way that she did,” Levine concluded. “I want the world to remember Mary as someone always willing to offer a smile. She accomplished great things and gave people joy, and she did it with grace. But even though she offered a smile so willingly… she fought for the things that she believed in.”
Mary Tyler Moore was a true icon, and there will never be another one like her. While it’s sad to hear that her final years were so difficult for her, we can take comfort in knowing that she’s in a better place now.
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