What Happened To Mary Tyler Moore's Son?

Mary Tyler Moore was one of television's most beloved stars, only increasing in popularity with her roles on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." On January 25, 2017, she died from a heart attack while already suffering from pneumonia. She was 80 years old. While she was survived only by her husband, Moore was in fact a mother. In 1956, she gave birth to her son and only child, Richard Meeker, whom Moore had with her then-husband Dick Meeker, according to Bustle.

By Moore's recollection, her relationship with her son was strenuous due to her divorce from his father and her focus on her career, but did not see any signs of trouble or self-harm from him (via People). An evidently avid gun collector, the 24-year-old college student was reportedly cleaning a .410 shotgun when the inexplicably loaded weapon went off and killed him (via US Magazine).

Her son's death was the second of two tragedies

Rumors of suicide spread, but Mary Tyler Moore denied the allegation, and the cause was officially ruled accidental (via HuffPost). Meeker's roommates, Judy Vasquez and Judy McLaughlin — the last people he is believed to have spoken to — indicated that he did not seem despondent or show any sign of distress (via Washington Post). The loss of her son was exceptionally traumatic, as well as horribly timed for several reasons.

The tragedy came at a point when, after years of perceived neglect on her part, Moore felt she had just started to truly bond with Richard (via Outsider). It also occurred not long after she portrayed a mother who similarly lost her son in the film "Ordinary People" following a hiatus from acting. This was also just two years after her sister Elizabeth Ann had died of a reported drug overdose at the even younger age of 21. Moore denied that her death was the result of suicide as well, in spite of that being the official ruling.