Beloved Hollywood beauty, Mary Tyler Moore, sadly passed away on January 25, 2017 at the age of 80. While she lived a long, successful life, it always sends a pang of hurt when one of our beloved Hollywood icons passes.
Though she was well-known for playing upbeat, cheerful television roles, her life away from the camera often was anything but.
Juggling an extremely successful Hollywood career and trying to balance a normal family life is something that is near impossible to do and often causes a great deal of heartache for all involved.
Mary Tyler Moore was divorced two times - once to Richard Meeker in 1961 and another to Grant Tinker in 1981. While divorces are unbearably difficult to go through, she dealt with something far worse than that and she was never able to live past the grief.
In 1980, her one and only son, Richie Meeker, passed away at the young age of 24. From that moment on, Mary was never the same.
By the time her little boy was three years old, she was already steadily working in the television industry. When he had grown to six years old, Mary and Richard divorced. A mere six months later, Mary married Grant, who at the time had four children of his own.
In her memoir, After All, she heartbreakingly penned, "There is no question about tit, by the time Richie was five, I had already let him down. When he needed me the most, I was busier and eve more self-concerned than I had been when he was an impressionable infant."
As Richie continued to grow, his relationship with his mother grew more and more distant. He moved with his father to Fresno, California, and seemed to be doing much better. He was performing well in school and had high dreams of attending college after graduating.
When his father accepted a job out of town, that deeply affected Richie. He talked his parents into letting him continue to live in Fresno to finish out his high school career. They agreed, but soon after wished that they had never agreed to that.
In her memoir, Mary wrote about receiving a phone call from Richie who was frantically sobbing. He broke down and admitted that he was heavily involved with drugs and was in trouble with a drug dealer. It was then that Mary really knew the extent of her son's tragic state.
She took actions to help get her son out of this toxic environment and he moved back in with his mother and away from the horrible lifestyle he had found himself in. He began doing better and even did some small acting jobs on t.v.
In 9180, though, Mary received a phone call that no parent ever wants: her son had died.
In her memoir, she wrote, "On October 15, 1980, at 5 a.m., the phone awakened me. It was Grant. 'If you're standing, you should sit down...It's Richie. He's dead."
He had tragically passed away due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The coroner confirmed that his death was an accident.
While in his bedroom, he was playing around with a gun better known as a "Snake Charmer". This specific type of gun was notorious for its "hair-trigger" instability and was later taken off the market.
With the help of psychotherapy, Mary began to try and deal with this unbearable tragedy.
She wrote about spreading her son's ashes into the Owen River. "The water was clear and high as I knelt over it. I opened the container and emptied it into the rushing water. What was meant to be a prayer became and outraged demand. 'You take care of him,' I screamed at the sky."
I could not imagine having to go through such a horrific tragedy and then have to go right back to television and put on a happy, cheerful facade. That alone shows the true strength of Mary Tyler Moore.
It's truly heartbreaking to know that she had to deal with such a tragedy of losing her only son.