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

October 19, 1995 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ On television, Mary Tyler Moore’s problems were small and funny.

In real life, she’s endured tragedy: alcoholism, the shooting death of her only child, the loss of a younger sister.

Now comes a new revelation: She says she tried to help her terminally ill brother 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.

Her autobiography, ``After All,″ chronicles her role in the attempted suicide, and that of her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, a cardiologist.

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Published by G.P. Putnam, the autobiography is expected in stores early next month.

Ms. Moore, 59, achieved fame and adoration from her TV portrayal of two high-strung goody-two-shoes women: Laura Petrie on ``The Dick Van Dyke Show″ in the 1960s, and Mary Richards on ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show″ in the 1970s.

But the personal life she describes in the book has been far from squeaky-clean. She and her mother were both alcoholics. Her only child, Richard, who had trouble in school and with drugs, accidentally shot himself at age 24. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, died at age 21 from a combination of a painkiller and alcohol.

As a child, the actress lived in Brooklyn, where she brawled with other youngsters and once was molested by a neighbor, she writes.

Her family moved to California, where she was a lousy student but rigorously pursued her dream of becoming a star.

Ms. Moore got what she wanted, accompanied by more suffering.

``He called me one day to say goodbye,″ Ms. Moore wrote of her brother’s attempt to end his own life. ``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 to help.

Once he had swallowed as many pills as he could, ``he asked me to mash them into ice cream,″ she said. 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 wrote.

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The actress told the Daily News that her husband’s role ``was difficult from an ethical point of view but he was never directly involved.″ She also told the newspaper that she ``would do it again.″

Ms. Moore’s agent, Wendy Morris, said she could not immediately reach the actress for comment Wednesday. A message left with the management at Levine’s Manhattan apartment building was not immediately returned.