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Mary Tyler Moore's Heartbreak after Losing Her Only Son Two Years after Her Sister's Death

Bettina Dizon
Jun 07, 2019
12:57 A.M.
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Mary Tyler Moore opened up about the day her 24-year-old son who accidentally shot himself; “I screamed at the sky,” she recalled.

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Among the many challenges Mary Tyler Moore underwent, losing her only son, Richard Meeker Jr., was the hardest and most painful. When her 24-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot, her life changed forever.

“On Oct. 15, 1980, at 5.am, the phone awakened me,” Moore wrote in her memoir. “It was Grant. If you’re standing, you should sit down. It’s Richie. He’s dead.”

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A MOTHER’S LOSS

The heartbreaking news was too much to handle in the wee hours of the morning. The actress, although having a complicated relationship with her son, was devastated. Recalling the moment she threw Richie’s ashes into Owen River, the actress wrote her sudden burst of outrage:

“I opened the container and emptied it into the rushing water. What was meant to be a prayer became an outraged demand. ‘You take care of him,’ I screamed at the sky.”

Mary Tyler Moore. | Source: Getty Images

Mary Tyler Moore. | Source: Getty Images

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After her son’s demise, Moore sought help from a psychotherapist to cope with the tragic loss she endured. She kept herself busy and answered the thousands of letters of condolences by hand.

FIDDLING AROUND

Richie had an appreciation for guns which he collected during his time at the University of Southern California. His roommate, Judy Velasquez, was a witness to the accidental shooting that cost him his life.

Mary Tyler Moore. | Source: Getty Images

Mary Tyler Moore. | Source: Getty Images

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“He was loading and unloading the short-barreled gun when it went off. It was awful. He must have pulled the trigger. There was a big bang, and he fell on the bed,” she said. “I don’t think he was paying attention to what he was doing. Nobody will ever make me believe his death was anything but an accident,” she added.

COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP

The television diva gave birth to Richie at the young age of 18 with her first husband, Richard Meeker. Having been a teenage mother, Moore would have typically long for a stable job to raise her child, which led to her busy schedule which Richie did not take part in.

At the age of 80, Moore died in 2017 but left a legacy in helping the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, an illness she struggled with for over 20 years.

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In her memoir, “After All,” she revealed her son was let down at the age of 5 when Moore wasn’t there “when he needed me most.” She was busy and “more self-concerned” following her split with Meeker.

Mary Tyler Moore giving a speech on stage. | Source: Getty Images

Mary Tyler Moore giving a speech on stage. | Source: Getty Images

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Shortly after their separation, the “Dick Van Dyke Show” actress found love with Grant Tinker who accepted and adopted Richie, becoming a family for over ten years.

Sadly, her second marriage ended in divorce, leaving her to cope through drinking and distancing herself from her son ever more.

At the age of 80, Moore died in 2017 but left a legacy in helping the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, an illness she struggled with for over 20 years.

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