The world lost a television, stage and film icon with the death of Mary Tyler Moore earlier this week. Her brightness, enthusiasm, kindness and even sassiness endeared Moore’s characters to us for over four decades.

Moore’s television work includes playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 to 1966, and then from 1970 to 1977, her own Mary Tyler Moore show in which she played the ground-breaking role of Mary Richards, a single career woman working in broadcast news.

Despite Moore’s success, particularly after Mary Tyler Moore (MTM) Productions was created, responsible for hits such as Rhoda, The Lou Grant Show, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, there were some dark days in Moore’s life.

Two of her three marriages, one of which was to Grant Tinker who helped create MTM Productions, had failed. Her younger sister, Elizabeth Ann, died from a drug overdose. Two years later, her son who was a gun collector, killed himself with an accidental shotgun blast to the head.

Ironically, that same year, Moore took on her Oscar-nominated role as a mother trying to come to grips with her son’s suicide in Ordinary People.

Nothing was ordinary about Moore’s meteoric rise to stardom, just in the same way that nothing was ordinary in her long-term substance abuse, namely drinking and how it might have exacerbated another affliction Moore had – diabetes.



While in her 30s, Mary Tyler Moore was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Although there is no official record of Moore’s drinking having contributed to her diagnosis, there remains a strong link in other sufferers concerning diabetes that alcohol consumption can cause their diabetes to worsen.

Medical science has proven that too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which can become pancreatitis, and with that can impair the pancreas’ ability to properly secrete insulin. This can ultimately lead to diabetes.

Much later in Moore’s life, her eyesight began to deteriorate – another factor in diabetes sufferers, which can be attributed to alcohol consumption.

Either way, in Mary Tyler Moore’s case, and even if she was truly sober later in her life, if alcohol did increase her chances of having diabetes, the damage had already been done.



Mary Tyler Moore’s bout with alcohol can trace back to a family ravaged by booze, particularly her mother and father whose own drinking caused her family to fall apart.

The dynamic in fact was so bad, once the Moore family settled in L.A. from New York, Moore moved in with her aunt, choosing to see her family only on special occasions.

Of course in the end, her parents’ drinking may have been the impetus to lead Moore herself toward drinking.

Drinking had, according to Moore, taken a huge bite out of her relationship with Grant Ticker to the point where they divorced in 1981 after nearly 20 years of marriage.

In several interviews, Moore has admitted to overindulgence with alcohol, and claimed to have attended multiple Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

In short, Moore realized that she had issues, and with the same vigor that she played Mary Richards, sought to get her life on track and “make it after all.”



Reducing the risk of diabetes is one of a plethora of results that come about from not drinking. Quitting alcohol can help a person to better control their diabetes, while at the same time, improving their quality of life.

Mary Tyler Moore may have helped extend her life, but booze also didn’t go to any length to help her with her diabetes. Nonetheless, becoming sober was an effort that still benefitted Moore, by keeping her career and life on track after she took responsibility for herself.


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Mary Tyler Moore: Did Alcohol Kill Her?