Mary Tyler Moore Detailed Struggling Nights with Alcoholism, How She Recovered

by Katie Maloney

Although she was an icon for confidence and independence, Mary Tyler Moore struggled with insecurities. Here’s how she overcame her struggles.

Mary Tyler Moore influenced the lives of women and men everywhere through the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Through her humor and sweet nature, Moore redefined what it meant to be a woman in America during that time. She was a symbol of independence and confidence. But being a national icon comes with a fair amount of pressure. So it’s understandable why Moore struggled to cope at times. During an interview in 1995, Mary Tyler Moore talked about how she overcame alcoholism.

“I just, every evening at 6:00, I’d say, ‘Well, I think I won’t have the martini tonight,’ and about five minutes later, I’d be in there making it,” said Moore. “And so I decided, rather than muck around any further as an amateur, I’d go to the pros. And pros, for me, were the Betty Ford Center. There I learned to sort of examine the whys and the wherefores of my emotional state. And what it is I was doing, what I was running from. Why I needed to anesthetize myself.”

The Guardian said it best when they described the way Mary Tyler Moore was a layered woman. They said that “her outwardly bubbly personality and trademark broad, toothy smile disguised an inner fragility that appealed to an audience facing the new trials of modern-day existence.”

Nevertheless, Moore’s inner fragility was just as real as everyone else’s. Fortunately, she had the strength and bravery required to face that fragility and seek help from experts when needed.

Mary Tyler Moore’s Grandfather Believed She’d ‘End Up On Stage or in Jail’

When you’re a born star, you can’t help but shine from a young age. And that’s exactly what Mary Tyler Moore did. During an interview in 1994, Moore said that she always felt “at home” in the spotlight. She didn’t come from the most nurturing family. Her mother was an alcoholic and her father rarely showed emotion. So, Moore had to find other ways to receive the love and affection she needed. Moore said that she knew she wanted to be an actress at the age of three.

“I knew when I was three,” said Moore. “In fact, it’s – my grandfather apparently said of me when I was three, ‘This child will either end up on stage or in jail.'”

Despite her fair share of struggles and tragedy, including the death of her 24-year-old son, Mary Tyler Moore said that she was grateful for the life she lived.

“Has been a wonderful life, absolutely terrific,” said Moore. “There are very few things that I would go back and do differently, if I had that control.”