Watch: Moore surprised Winfrey with a visit to her show in 1997

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Although the world lost a number of glittering figures over the past year, it was Wednesday’s death of Mary Tyler Moore — the iconic actress who influenced a generation of women in television and journalism — that brought media mogul Oprah Winfrey to tears.

“It’s the first time I would 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,” Winfrey told  Entertainment Tonight.

The 80-year-old actress, who first came to public acclaim in her role as Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” broke boundaries and changed television with her iconic 1970s sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Moore portrayed single, career woman Mary Richards, who was out to “make it on her own” after a broken engagement. Richards moved to Minneapolis, got a job at a local television news station, had a best friend, dated and made the single, working woman’s life look good.

Winfrey told People she was among those inspired by the show. “Mary Tyler Moore majorly influenced my life and career. I respected and admired her business acumen, her passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through her storytelling. I thank her for being a light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in her,” the 62-year-old talk show host and former reporter said.

Moore was the person who first gave Winfrey the idea that she could own and produce a show, Winfrey told People. When Moore surprised Winfrey with a visit to her show in 1997, Winfrey cried.

“Her legacy will live on in ways I know the creators of [The Mary Tyler Moore Show] never even imagined.”