Oprah Winfrey is mourning the death of her idol, Mary Tyler Moore. Within hours after news of the TV legend’s death broke, Oprah took to Instagram to post a poignant tribute to the late star who she says shaped her life and inspired her to go into the TV news field. Winfrey captioned a photo of herself and Moore when they met for the first time on the set of The Oprah Winfrey Show 20 years ago.
“Dear Mary,” Winfrey wrote.
“You already know how you majorly influenced my life and career. I respected and admired your business acumen, your passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through your storytelling. Thank you for being a Light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in you.”
Dear Mary, You already know how you majorly influenced my life and career. I respected and admired your business acumen, your passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through your storytelling. Thank you for being a Light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in you.
A photo posted by Oprah (@oprah) on
Oprah also posted a tribute to her idol on Twitter.
“Even now looking at this picture I want to cry, ” Oprah wrote. ” I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever.”
Even now looking at this picture I want to cry. I still can't believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever. pic.twitter.com/6u4ELq27vN
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 25, 2017
Oprah Winfrey is extremely emotional over the death of Mary Tyler Moore. Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight she broke down when she heard that the TV legend had passed away.
“It’s the first time I would recall a public figure in recent years passing — and we’ve lost so many people recently – where I actually sat down and shed tears about it,” Oprah told ET.
Oprah has gone on record as saying she was one of Mary Tyler Moore’s biggest fans, so it’s not surprising that she had such heartfelt words for the late television legend.
Decades before Moore passed away at age 80, Winfrey was inspired by her character’s life on her iconic, self-titled 1970s CBS sitcom. Oprah once said she wanted to be Moore’s TV persona, Minneapolis newswoman Mary Richards.
“I wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore,” Oprah once said, according to People. “I wanted to be Mary, I wanted to live where Mary lived, I wanted Mr. Grant in my life, I wanted my boss to act like that, I wanted Ted.”
RIP to the great Mary Tyler Moore. Read scripts from all 7 seasons of the groundbreaking THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW in the Library. pic.twitter.com/SKpQ3CBKxe
— Writers Guild Found. (@WritersGuildF) January 25, 2017
Winfrey was such a fangirl that she even recreated the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, including the famous hat toss, and played the video on her talk show. While Oprah had previously talked to her idol on the phone, she never met her in person until Oprah Winfrey Show producers surprised her with an on-camera a visit from Mary in 1997.
“You have no idea what you’ve meant to me,” an emotional Winfrey told the star. “I just want to say, there’s many times in our lives when there are those of us who only had the television for inspiration, and you were one of those women who was a light.”
Oprah told ET that her idol’s surprise visit changed her–and her talk show–forever.
“The moment she surprised me on that show was a life-changing moment for many reasons,” Oprah explained. “First of all, it’s the time I coined the ugly cry. And I went into double, triple overtime. After that I said, ‘Never again!’ I called all my producers together — and that was in 1997 – I said, ‘Never again will I be surprised on the show, and if I’m ever surprised on the show, it will cost whoever produced that show their job.’ Because I could not speak, hear or think!”
Oprah Winfrey previously told her viewers about her love for Moore and her classic TV show when she was a teenager in the 1970s.
“Saturday night, I sat there with the conditioner on my hair for the 30 minutes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Oprah recalled. “Wouldn’t rinse it out until The Bob Newhart Show came on. I’m thinking of every single time I tried to mock her wearing the vest with the little tie. I’m thinking of wanting the ‘O’ above my refrigerator because she had the ‘M’ over hers. I wanted to move to Minneapolis because I thought she really lived there!”
According to Oprah’s website, Winfrey once said she wanted to have TV news writer Mary Richards’s clothes, hairstyle, and job and that she was “crushed” when she found out there wasn’t really a WJM-TV station in Minneapolis.
“I was 16 years old when I first saw this groundbreaking show,” Oprah Winfrey said.
“I watched this show every Saturday night like my life depended on it. The show was a light in my life, and Mary was a trailblazer for my generation. She’s the reason I wanted my own production company. It’s the reason there is a Harpo because that was the inspiration.”
Take a look at the video below to see Oprah Winfrey getting surprised by her TV idol.
[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]