Mary Tyler Moore was a pioneer who put the independent working woman on the prime-time map in 1970 with her self-titled sitcom, but her legacy went far beyond her own series.
Fellow television groundbreaker Candice Bergen believes that without Moore's Mary Richards, there would have never been a Murphy Brown 18 years later.
Candice Bergen: Mary Tyler Moore 'made women feel entitled to a career'Jan. 26, 201703:21
"Mary Tyler Moore really opened the door for women not defined by a relationship, for women trying to have a career," Bergen explained on TODAY Thursday.
"(Her show) also opened the door to quality television, because the writing was so exceptional and had such depth and was character-driven."
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And what characters both Richards and Brown were. In their respective roles, Moore and Bergen tackled powerful and often controversial topics for their times — from equal pay to single parenting — somehow interweaving lessons with the laughs.
Both women received five Emmys for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series over the course of their careers.
But Bergen, a legend in her own right, truly believed Moore was on another level, in "her own stratosphere."
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"She made it look easy," Bergen said, "but it wasn't."
"I think for young girls, growing up, watching those characters on television, it gave them a sense of entitlement that they didn't feel before that," she said.
Mary Tyler Moore: The Impact of a Beloved American IconJan. 25, 201701:54
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