To earn that, you can't simply be famous for a role or two. You have to be something more - as in Mary Tyler Moore.
She was on TV in its infancy, at least her legs were on 77 Sunset Strip as a young actress. Then the break of her lifetime, cast opposite Dick Van Dyke on his incredible sitcom that dominated the 1960's. The first one ever on TV that showed a "real" suburban couple that was far more like real people. She was hilarious, fresh and beautiful.
Then her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore show that dominated the 1970's. Where she played Mary Richards, a single, working woman in TV in Minneapolis (who thought of that location?) and we loved her. The joke was seemingly always on Mary, and she embraced it. This beautiful young woman, had the same challenges as the viewers. Her own show was blueprinted from the Van Dyke Show with an amazing ensemble cast and brilliant writing.
(MTM Theme and Closing credits song)
I know it's hard to believe now, but in 1970 a woman starring and being incredibly successful on TV in a sitcom was virtually unheard of. I think she is the funniest woman that has ever been on television. The way she did it was non threatening, with class and an unassuming charm that was palpable, and a wit so sharp you could shave with it. Not many can say they were on TV in virtually every home, every day for 25 years in one way or another. But she can.
(Chuckles The Clown Funeral Episode from the MTM show - TV Magic)
Then it was MTM productions that developed a huge array of great TV shows over the years. She even had a Country Music record label in the 1980's that had a ton of great artist at the time on it. She got an Oscar nomination for Ordinary People, and appeared in a bunch of movies over the course of a few years.
But her real gift was the gift of a career to so many. Edward Asner, Gavin MacCleod, Ted Knight, John Amos all went on to immense careers after the MTM show closed down on TV. Even Bob Newhart got new life in his career when Mary developed the Bob Newhart Show. Not to mention the hundreds of small stars that got a huge boost from appearing on the set of her show.
Betty White owes a ton to Mary, whose career was completely reborn on the MTM show after Mary cast White as the original "cougar" on TV, Sue Ann Nivens. Without that role, there more than likely is no Golden Girls, and more than likely no pop culture Betty White today.
Then diagnosed with diabetes, she became the face of campaign awareness for the disease world wide. I remember seeing her on TV doing commercials for it just a few years ago, and I would stop just to hear what MTM had to say. She took on animal welfare on the global scale as well. She faced the shooting death of a son, and had a marriage or two.
But Mary Tyler Moore not only did everything, she did everything with class, dignity and beauty. She did most every thing the right way, and not the sell out way. She surrounded herself with talented people, and climbed to heights most never dream of. And she did most of it - first.
Most everything she did was first, and original. A brave thing to do in entertainment, especially then. She carved out the trail so others could follow.
Mary Tyler Moore - She was an original - and an icon.