Far too often we heap accolades and praise on celebrities they simply haven’t earned. In my years as a broadcast journalist, I have heard the words “integrity” and “inspiring” used far too often for those who have neither earned nor deserved the verbal commendations.

Which is why special attention needs to be paid to those who are in our midst every day, living the example of an image worthy of notice. And when they pass on, we need to ensure what they leave behind is neither forgotten nor understated.

Mary Tyler Moore had a difficult childhood, daughter of an alcoholic Mother, and a Father who was indifferent to the point of treating her as another piece of the furniture. She lost her only son to a tragic accidental shooting. Her first two marriages failed. She was told early in her life she was diabetic. She made no bones about being a recovering alcoholic.

Yet in her public life, she was always the picture of grace and professionalism. She never sought pity, nor did she allow it to be part of her persona. She was, by all accounts, simply a joy to work with and a great friend. Ms. Moore never spoke a bad word about anyone in public, certainly not to the point anyone can remember.

And let’s be honest about how tough that has to be while working in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

She was properly a “star”. Yet she never demanded special treatment. Never pointed to herself as someone to be fawned over. Used her fame as a vehicle to inspire others.

She was to everyone who knew her, either personally or simply because she was allowed into our homes and movie theaters, just “Mary”. The lady who did indeed make it on her own. Who blazed a trail for women in Hollywood. Who tirelessly worked to further causes seeking to find a cure for juvenile diabetes and to seek proper treatment of animals. A grand lady with a grand heart.

Let’s take a lesson from the graceful manner with which she lived her life. Grasp what commitment to a craft and to ones personal image can accomplish. Understand that more often than not, one can be a leader simply by doing what to them is natural and personal.

It is indeed possible to turn the world on with a smile. Sometimes, that smile is all it takes to leave behind the memory of being a person of unmatched integrity.

It’s fitting that instead of leaving this opinion on a note of sadness, I will instead choose to leave us all laughing.

I never knew her personally, but I have this feeling she would have preferred we remember her with that smile.

And that exceptional image.

Thanks, Mary.