BERNADETTE PETERS TALKS ABOUT MARY TYLER MOORE
Mary Tyler Moore On 20 / 20
Famed Broadway star Bernadette Peters spoke fondly of her friend and “comedy genius” Mary Tyler Moore, who died this week at age 80.
“Mary will go down in the annals of comedy history as a genius comedy actor,” Peters told ABC News’ “20/20.” “She was an original... She came from a true place inside herself, which we all can relate to. She made us look at it in a different way, in a funny way.”
Moore, an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actress, was best known for her roles in the TV sitcoms, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
Moore earned six Emmy Awards, four of them for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." She won her first Emmy for her breakthrough role as Laura Petrie in "The Dick Van Dyke Show, and in 1993 she won her sixth for the television movie, "Stolen Babies."
Her portrayal of career woman Mary Richards in her namesake 1970s show arrived alongside the women's movement, making her a role model for generations of women, even though Moore didn't consider herself a feminist.
“She was actually one of the first to actually portray a modern woman on television, and she was one of the greats,” Peters said. “’The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ was a woman out in the world by herself making her way, being independent, being smart. So therefore, women everywhere looked up to her.”
Although she was best known for her television work, Moore also took on memorable film roles, including the 1990 movie, “The Last Best Year.” Peters, who starred alongside Moore in the film, recalled a moment when they were working on set together and had a funny exchange in the ladies room during a quick break from filming.
“I remember - we were washing our hands. All of a sudden she looked in the mirror and said, ‘You know the one great thing about growing older is you don’t have to shave your legs as much,’” Peters said, laughing. “And I just thought, ‘Oh Mary, you are really funny.’”
In addition to her work in film and television, Moore was known for her charity work with JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which helps raise funds and awareness for Type 1 diabetes. Moore was diagnosed with the disease at age 33 and served as the foundation's international chairman.
Moore was also a longtime animal rights activist. In 1999, she and Peters co-founded Broadway Barks, a star-studded “adopt-a-thon” aimed at helping find permanent homes for cats and dogs in the New York city area. The event takes place every July.
“Her heart was bigger than anyone I’ve ever met, really,” Peters said. “She would like to be remembered as a humanitarian … she will be remembered as the comic genius that she was. She will be remembered as a huge, huge star in many areas on television and movies and stage. She’ll be remembered as a great beauty.”
ABC News' Luchina Fisher contributed to this report