Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday at the age of 80, was well known for her on-screen roles in "Ordinary People," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and, of course, 1970's Emmy-winning smash "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
But off-screen, Moore was a lifelong animal rights advocate who dedicated her life to protecting man's best friends.
She first stuck her neck out to help an animal when she was just 9-year-old.
“I was coming home from school, and I saw a man had cornered a dog and was beating him with a stick,” she told "The Pet Press," a Los Angeles-based monthly magazine, in 2002. “I yelled at him to stop but he wouldn’t, so I just dropped my schoolbooks and ran and jumped him and beat him around the head and shoulders and kicked him with my feet.”
“That was the first time I felt passion and anger at man’s inhumanity,” she continued. “I beat the man up as best I could, but I didn’t undertake any active role until many years later.”
In 1999, Moore and her friend Bernadette Peters co-founded Broadway Barks — a star-studded "adopt-a-thon" set to help find permanent homes for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats from animal shelters and adoption agencies in the metropolitan area. The event takes place every July in Times Square's famed Shubert Alley, sponsored by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Peters spoke out about Moore on social media Wednesday, where she called Moore "an extraordinary person and friend to the animals."
Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, echoed Peters' love on Facebook.
"Mary’s love for animals, particularly those abandoned or abused has galvanized all of Broadway to ensure that thousands of adorable, adoptable dogs and cats find their forever homes, as well as raise funds for the organizations that embrace them in their darkest hours," he said.
He continued: "Mary’s affection for our furry, four-legged friends was matched by a generous, kind and cherished spirit that touched the hearts of us all with her charismatic personality and infamous smile. We can rest assured that there are many a heavenly mutt and purebred pup waiting at The Rainbow Bridge to welcome Mary with sloppy kisses for finding them a safe home here below the clouds."
Moore appeared on Broadway twice — first in the 1980 revival of "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" (which won her a Special Tony Award) and then as the title character in 1987's "Sweet Sue" (a role she shared with Lynn Redgrave).
She won her second Tony as a producer through MTM Enterprises, for the 1985 revival of Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg." Additional producing credits included "Noises Off," "Benefactors," "The Octette Bridge Club," and the Broadway premiere of Harvey Fierstein’s "Safe Sex."