Once known as “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Tyler Moore made smart decisions as an entertainment business mogul that gave her the financial wherewithal to control her career and support causes that were meaningful to her.
In 1969, Mary Tyler Moore learned that she had diabetes. She made defeating the disease a central part of her life. She used her celebrity status to raise awareness, helped raise millions of dollars for research and proved her doctors wrong by living many years after her initial diagnosis. Trust Advisor’s article, “Mary Tyler Moore: Will Charities or Estranged Relatives Inherit?”, details her success over the years and how her estate is likely to be distributed.
Mary lived as comfortably as her health permitted, courtesy of the television empire she built after her signature roles ended. As far as estate planning, Mary buried her only son and never bonded with ex-husband Grant Tinker’s children. She called them “his” family, when he died a few months ago.
Since we can assume the stepchildren won’t receive a sizeable chunk of her estate that leaves her husband of 33 years, Connecticut cardiologist Robert Levine as her primary heir. He’s legally entitled to at least a third of whatever Mary left behind under state rules.
Even though there were rumors and reports of domestic disputes during Moore’s declining health, she could have divorced him and cut him out of the will at any time. But Moore died married. As a result, Connecticut law says her husband will get the spousal share, estimated to be about $20 million.
One of her best career moves was withdrawing from active celebrity life in the early 1980s. Intentional or not, moving out of the limelight gave her time to focus on the TV production empire she’d built with then-husband Grant Tinker.
The company, MTM Productions, bore her initials and was very profitable into the late 1980s. The company produced shows like “Hill Street Blues,” “Newhart,” and “St. Elsewhere,” and MTM earned more than $40 million a year.
Once Tinker was gone, Moore got a quarter of that cash flow. This steady income allowed her to decline roles she did not like. The sale of the company in 1988 realized $60 million and one last stock payout of $5 million. It was a smart executive exit.
Mary Tyler Moore will be remembered as a star, but she lived like an entrepreneur—generating a great deal of passive income. She gave much of her corporate payout to her favorite charities, such as juvenile diabetes research and animal protection. She also began her philanthropy early.
Many philanthropists don’t see the results of their generosity, because their support occurs after they have passed on. Mary Tyler Moore established her philanthropic role early, got to see the results of her efforts and made a difference in the organizations that were meaningful to her. As a result, she left a legacy in many different arenas, from popular culture to medicine and animal protection.
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