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Goody-Two-Shoes Mary Tyler Moore Writes of Personal Tragedies

October 18, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ On TV, she could turn the world on with her smile, but Mary Tyler Moore’s real life was filled with tears, according to a new autobiography that describes how she helped her terminally ill brother try to commit suicide by feeding him drug-laced ice cream.

The suicide attempt failed, and Ms. Moore’s 47-year-old brother, John, died three months later in 1992 of kidney cancer.

But the actress, who portrayed squeaky-clean Laura Petrie on ``The Dick Van Dyke Show″ and Mary Richards on ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show,″ said she ``would do it again,″ the Daily News reported Wednesday.

Ms. Moore’s book, ``After All,″ reveals her role in the attempted suicide and that of her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, a cardiologist. Published by G. P. Putnam, the autobiography is expected in stores early next month.

The book depicts a private life full of the sordid and sorrowful tales that are de rigeur for celebrity autobiographies.

It describes the alcoholism of Ms. Moore’s mother and her own drinking problem, along with the sad life of Ms. Moore’s only child, Richard, who accidentally shot himself to death at age 24. Ms. Moore’s younger sister, Elizabeth, died at 21 from a combination of Darvon and alcohol.

Ms. Moore, 59, writes that her brother ``called me one day to say goodbye. He had stashed hundreds of painkillers and had tried to end his life by taking enough to kill himself. He fell asleep before he could ingest enough to finally end his pain. He felt he could do it again.″

Accompanied by her husband, the actress flew to her brother’s California home from New York the next day.

Once he had swallowed as many pills as he could, ``he asked me to mash them into ice cream,″ she says. Levine called the drug company that held the code for her brother’s morphine pump so that he could increase the dosage, then ``programmed the added infusion while I spoon-fed the potion,″ the actress writes.

Ms. Moore told the Daily News that her husband’s role ``was difficult from an ethical point of view but he was never directly involved.″

``It had taken a lot for Robert to overcome his instinct to cure but added to his guilt, now, was sorrow at having let John down,″ Ms. Moore writes.

The actress has a new role as the newspaper editor Louise ``The Dragon″ Felcott on the CBS drama ``New York News.″ In a Tony-winning performance in the Broadway play ``Whose Life Is It, Anyway?″ in 1979, she portrayed a quadriplegic who tries to persuade her doctor to let her die.

Ms. Moore’s agent, Wendy Morris, said she could not immediately reach the actress Wednesday for comment. There is no office listing for Levine in New York, where he is licensed to practice medicine.

Asked if the state Health Department would investigate Levine’s involvement with the assisted suicide attempt, spokeswoman Lois Utley said: ``We don’t really have many facts to go on. We really couldn’t comment at this stage.″

State guidelines permit doctors treating terminally ill patients to provide painkilling medication even when the patient is at risk for suicide, Utley said.

California Attorney General Dan Lungren was out of the office and unavailable for comment on whether Ms. Moore would face charges there.

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