She Turned the World on – and Immaculate Heart High School – with Her Smile

Published : Thursday, January 26, 2017 | 12:27 PM

In 2006, Immaculate Heart President Ruth Anne Murray, IHM, welcomed back IH alumna Mary Tyler Moore as a guest speaker during the high school’s centennial year.

Immaculate Heart High School yearbook photo of Mary Tyler Moore, Class of 1955

Immaculate Heart High School mourns the passing of IH alumna Mary Tyler Moore, Class of 1955. The legendary actress and activist became a TV icon with her ground-breaking and award-winning series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Moore, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in Los Angeles and attended Immaculate Heart High School where she set her sights on a career in entertainment. “My goals as a student were simple,” Moore recalled when she returned to her alma mater for its centennial in 2006. “I wanted to be a dancer – despite the cautions of Mother Eucharia (then IH principal) against my wearing short skirts in the school’s musical comedies.”

Her perseverance paid off well beyond dance. Soon after graduating from Immaculate Heart, Moore broke into commercials and gained small parts in television before landing, at the age of 23, the comedic role of housewife Laura Petrie on the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. The part led to international fame.

For many fans, however, Moore will forever be the iconic 1970s television character Mary Richards – that spunky, independent news producer who “turned the world on with her smile” on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The series was the first of its kind to feature a single working woman as its lead character. Each week, viewers tuned in to watch Moore throw her cap into the air as the show’s opening theme song promised “You’re gonna make it after all.”

Moore won four Emmy awards for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She later pursued a series of dramatic roles, including her Emmy-nominated role as TV correspondent Betty Rollins battling breast cancer, her Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning role as Beth Jarrett in the film Ordinary People, and her Tony-winning performance in the Broadway-play Whose Life is It, Anyway?

In 1995, Moore published a successful autobiography, After All, about her career and personal challenges, including the loss of her son. She followed that effort with a second book, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, which detailed her struggles after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 33.

Moore became a longtime advocate for researching cures for diabetes and served as the international chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She also became an outspoken advocate for animal rights, and she fought for legislation to protect farm animals from inhumane suffering. “Animals need to be treated humanely,” Moore told IH students during her 2006 visit. “We need a reverence for all life.”

“Having a dream is what keeps us all going,” Moore also said to her IH audience. “Overcoming challenges makes life worth living,” she said.

Five years ago, the Screen Actors Guild honored Moore with its most prestigious award – the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award – in a nationally televised presentation. Whoops of delight echoed in many Immaculate Heart homes that evening as Moore accepted the award and noted, “In 1955, I was 18 years old, determined to make my father proud and prove to the Sisters at Immaculate Heart High School that I would indeed amount to something.”

Well, Mary, you did make it after all – and Immaculate Heart thanks you for making us all smile.

About Immaculate Heart

Founded in 1906, Immaculate Heart educates young women in grades sixth through 12th from its central location in the Los Feliz foothills near Griffith Park in Hollywood. The school has a long and distinguished history, with more than 10,000 graduates. Today’s student body of more than 700 young women is both geographically and ethnically diverse, drawing on students from throughout Los Angeles County. Last year, virtually 100 percent of Immaculate Heart graduates matriculated to colleges, including the most prestigious schools in the country.


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