David Sims in The Atlantic:
Mary Tyler Moore was a sitcom star who redefined what a sitcom could be, both onscreen and behind it. She was an actress who became a producer, a Hollywood mogul who worked hard to change her industry. Moore, who died Wednesday at the age of 80, was a TV icon in the 1960s and ’70s whose on-screen persona radically changed with the times she lived in and helped set new benchmarks for America’s image of the working woman. She died of cardiopulmonary arrest in Greenwich, Connecticut, after contracting pneumonia.
Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Moore began her Hollywood career as a dancer in television commercials in the late ’50s, before landing bit parts on various serialized dramas. In 1961, she was cast as Laura in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Carl Reiner’s showbiz sitcom about Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer for a TV variety show. Moore was the definitive image of the harried, though supportive, sitcom wife of the early 1960s, a restrictive role that she nonetheless managed to stand out in. The Dick Van Dyke Show emphasized slapstick physical comedy; Moore and Van Dyke, who both came up in Hollywood as dancers, were rare comic talents who invented many of the vaudevillian aspects of the sitcom pratfall.