EXCLUSIVE: How Mary Tyler Moore Once Saved Her Good Friend's Life
By Antoinette Bueno
The late Mary Tyler Moore was a loyal and generous friend to all those close to her, whether they were famous or not.
Moore died on Wednesday at the age of 80, from cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia. While plenty of Moore's famous pals have been mourning her, ET spoke to her friend, celebrity pet hair stylist Lee Day, who told a particularly heartwarming story of how the groundbreaking actress once saved her life.
"I would go to Mary's apartment on 5th Avenue to give her golden retriever, Dash, a bath," Day recalls. "She was always so much fun -- we would spray water in each other's faces and sit on the floor and sing. She would always get me lunch."
Day will never forget Moore's quick actions one harrowing day.
"One day in 1985 while I was giving Dash a bath, I started coughing up blood in her sink," she shares. "I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know any doctors or anything. She said, 'Lee, I want you to go home. This is not good. I will call my husband, Robert [Levine], and we will find you a doctor to fix this.' By the time I got home, on my answering machine, there was a message for me from a doctor telling me to come in. I went the next day, and the doctor checked me in to Mount Sinai [Hospital] and I had an infected lung, and they had to remove my lung."
"The doctor told me, 'If it was not for Mary, you would be dead right now,'" she says.
And Moore's care extended beyond making the initial phone calls for Day.
"Mary stayed with me the whole time," Day recalls. "I was in the ICU for a long time after the surgery and she was there for me. When I woke up after surgery, there were flowers there signed from Mary and her dog, Dash, saying, 'Welcome back to the fun world!'"
"We did a lot of animal activism together after that," she adds. "Because of her, I am able to tell this story right now. In case people didn't know, she saved someone's life. She literally saved my life."
A passionate animal advocate, Moore founded Broadway Barks in 1999 with actress Bernadette Peters, an annual animal charity event held in New York City to promote the adoption of shelter animals. Performers, many from Broadway shows, present adoptable cats and dogs during the annual event held every July, with the participation of many animal groups from NYC.
Clearly, Moore touched plenty of people throughout her life, including fellow television legend Oprah Winfrey. ET's Nancy O'Dell spoke to Winfrey on Wednesday, and the media mogul said she broke down in tears over her friend's death.
"What I'm grateful for is that, in my lifetime, I was able to share with her what her presence in television had meant to me as a young, growing, aspiring reporter," Winfrey said. "It's the first time that I can 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."