Thursday, January 28, 1999

Mary Tyler Moore reveals her wounds


Actress discusses alcoholism, son's death

BY PERRY BROTHERS
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[moore]
Mary Tyler Moore acknowledges applause from the packed house at the Aronoff Center.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Like an evening with a friend after asking, “So, what's up with you?” about 2,700 people at the Aronoff Center learned Wednesday what's up with Mary.

        In the first lecture of The Cincinnati Enquirer's “Unique Lives & Experiences” series, Mary Tyler Moore, 61, gave the audience a glimpse of her dark side.

        “I know some of you think of me as a role model, and tonight I want to give you some insight behind the model,” Ms. Moore said.

        Stirring many laughs and a few tears, Ms. Moore spoke frankly of the often painful, private life that paralleled her plucky persona.

        Ms. Moore began her story at age 3 — when her desire for an audience prompted her grandfather to declare, “This child will either end up on stage or in jail.”

        She carried her rapt audience through her childhood with an alcoholic mother, her three marriages (the third now going on 16 years), the suicide of her son and her recovery from alcoholism.

        Without over-dramatizing, Ms. Moore delivered 60 minutes of friendly insight into the real woman behind Dick Van Dyke's chipper Laura Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards.

        The two worlds — real and celluloid — collided with her 1980 role as Beth, a cold, detached mother in Robert Redford's Ordinary People.

        “I saw my father in Beth,” Ms. Moore said, “but it was a couple of years before I saw someone else in her — me.”

        Soon after she received an Oscar nomination for her role as Beth, her 24-year-old son committed suicide. Just before Richie's death, her sister, Elizabeth, died of a drug overdose.

        “I miss my sister and I feel my son's absence every day of my life,” Ms. Moore said in a soft voice that made it clear that years have passed, but the pain hasn't.

        She said when she sees herself on film — in reruns or videos — she wonders what Richie was doing in those moments.

        Speaking directly to her son, she said: “I want that time to be replayed. I would take you to this today I live in.”

        Ms. Moore's today, after 14 years without a drink and finally finding a family with her husband, Dr. Richard Levine, is solid.

        An avid animal-rights activist and the International Chairwoman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Ms. Moore said her success as an actress kept her alive long enough to find herself. She thanked the audience for supporting her throughout her career.

        “I must have made it, after all.”

        Other speakers in the “Unique Lives & Experiences” series are: Lauren Bacall (Feb. 25); Coretta Scott King (March 9); Lesley Stahl (April 12); and Maya Angelou (May 3).

        Other sponsors of the Cincinnati version of the national lecture tour include: TriHealth, Cinergy, Ethan Allen, Sibcy Cline Realtors and Starbucks Coffee.

       



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