Mary Tyler Moore Explained Why She ‘Didn’t Invest Enough’ in Her Son Before His Tragic Death

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)

The death of the child is the greatest pain most parents could ever experience. This is true even if you’re Mary Tyler Moore.

Sadly, the famous television actress experienced such a tragic loss in 1980. On Oct. 14 of that year, her son Richard “Richie” Meeker perished in a tragic gun accident. He was cleaning a .410 shotgun when it accidentally fired, killing him when he was only 24 years old.

And, while she loved her son very much, the star still had her share of regrets following her son’s death. Mary Tyler Moore talked about these during an interview with Charlie Rose in 1995.

Rose referred to Richie Meeker’s death in 1980 as “the hardest thing for you to come to grips with …” The actress definitely agreed with that point of view. And, she elaborated on her feelings.

Mary Tyler Moore Said Pain of Losing Son Was ‘All-Encompassing’

“Yes, of course. I can’t imagine a pain more all-encompassing than losing a child. He was 24,” the actress said.

Rose then brought up how parents “invest” so much in their children. And, while Mary Tyler Moore agreed with his comment, she also said she felt she could have given more to her son.

“I didn’t invest enough, as I look back, you know. So it’s not a matter of – ,” she said before Rose interjected.

He then asked her if she felt guilt following the death of her son. He also commented that Richie’s life “didn’t come to full bloom.”

“– my investment; it’s his life, and that –” Mary Tyler Moore said. “Yeah. Yeah.”

She then went on to talk about how she and her son had just started to develop a very close relationship with one another for the first time in his life.

“Because he was, as I said earlier, the, the happiness, especially the happiness between us was growing, was evolving, and we had two wonderful years together where we understood each other and allowed each other to be who we were,” she added. “To have had to cut that short is the worst shame.”

And, while Mary Tyler Moore suffered through the death of her son and battled alcoholism, she felt her life had been “wonderful” and “terrific.” But, just as most humans feel, she would have changed a few things if she had the chance.

This is how she looked back on her life with Charlie Rose: “Has been a wonderful life, absolutely terrific. There are very few things that I would go back and do differently, if I had that control.”

Mary Tyler Moore died at the age of 80 on Jan. 25, 2017.