Mary Tyler Moore Spoke Out on How Tense Relationship with Parents Drove Her to Success

by Jennifer Shea

Late actress Mary Tyler Moore had a difficult relationship with her parents. And while the lack of parental attention arguably drove her toward the performing arts, it seems to have also left a lingering resentment.

In an interview with Charlie Rose in 1995, Moore said her parents’ influence on her was mostly felt through the lack of loving care they showed.

“I felt at the time that I wasn’t getting the love and affection and attention that I wanted,” Moore said of her childhood. “And I can see [now] that that’s probably true.”

Moore died in 2017 at age 80 of cardiopulmonary arrest and other conditions, such as aspiration pneumonia, hypoxia, and diabetes, according to TMZ.

Mary Tyler Moore Always Knew She Wanted to Be a Performer

Moore’s mother was an alcoholic and her father was extremely taciturn. And they didn’t exactly shower Moore with attention.

For her part, Moore knew from age 3 that she wanted to be an actress, she told Rose in 1994. But long before she would vault to success with “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” her relationship with her parents left her with her share of insecurities.

“Oh, I have always been a combination of both of those things [security and insecurity],” Moore told Rose. “‘I can just knock ‘em dead. I’m the best!’ and ‘Oh, why would anyone ever want to see me? This is no good. They’re all going to find out.’”

“And I think you’ll find that a lot of performers say that,” she added.

Moore Herself Became an Alcoholic

Without meaning to, Moore wound up following in her mother’s footsteps. She became an alcoholic. But later in life, after “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ended, she went to rehab. And then she sorted her personal life out.

“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,” Moore told Rose in 1993. “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, where 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.”

It wasn’t until husband number three that Moore finally got sober and found a stable relationship. Her last husband, Dr. Robert Levine, was by her side when she died. The couple had been married for a total of 33 years.