One of my favorites memories was watching Mary Tyler Moore on Saturday nights with my Mom. She seemed so natural and fun-loving. I mean who didn’t want Mary Richards as a girlfriend to hang out with.
Mary Tyler Moore was the ultimate!!! She changed women’s images over the decades with her characters on television and became a driving force in the producer arena along her with ex-husband Grant Tinker. Together, with their company MTM, they would go on to produce hit shows like “Hill Street Blues,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “St. Elsewhere,” “The White Shadow,” “Remington Steele,”” Phyliss,” “Rhoda” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.” St. Elsewhere starred a young Denzel Washington and stayed on the air for six seasons in the 80’s.
However, it was as the perky, stylish wife of a comedy writer – Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke show where viewers first fell in love and watched Moore take home the first two of any Emmys to come. Yet, in the 70’s, as Mary Richards, Moore was face of feminism representing single women, who were independent, smart and lived life on her own terms on the self-titled “The Mary Tyler-Moore Show”. Who can forget that theme song and her standing in the middle of Minneapolis throwing that hat in the air with the lyrics singing “You’re gonna make it after all…”
The Mary Tyler Moore show was loved by women of all ages, creeds and colors as its characters featured women like Phyliss Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), Rhoda Morgentstern (Valarie Harper), Georgette Brewer (Georgia Engel) and Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). All of whom were very strong individuals with outrageously comedic points of view on women and life.
One of the show’s funniest moments was the infamous “Chuckles Bites The Dust” episode, which sheds light on how different the degree is of how one processes death while attending a funeral.
A native New Yorker, at age 17, she was hired to appear in a series of commercials for Hotpoint appliances in the role of Happy Hotpoint, a caped dancing elf in a body stocking. The ad was shown during episodes of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
After several personal and professional hits and misses. industry insiders were forced to pay attention when she grabbed an Oscar nomination as the cold, stiff mother of Timothy Hutton in the Robert Redford directed “Ordinary People” and a Tony Award for her performance on Broadway as a quadriplegic who wanted to die in “Whose Life Is It, Anyway?”
In 2012, the Screen Actors Guild gave Ms. Moore a lifetime achievement award. Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981, although they remained friends until his death in November 2016. In 1983, she married Dr. Robert Levine, a physician, who is her only immediate survivor.
Had there not been a Mary Tyler Moore, the characters of Phyliss, Rhoda Murphy Brown and the Shonda Rhimes trifectas of Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy), Olivia Pope (Scandal) and Annalise Keaton (Viola Davis) , may not have been as widely accepted on television as they are today.
John Amos, who played weatherman Gordon “Gordy” Howard on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1970 to 1973, had nothing but fond things to say about his former castmate.
“When I think of Mary, I think of comedy at its finest. She was an inspiration to so many of us,” Amos told The Los Angeles Times. “I would say that the best opportunity that I could have to enter into serious television was ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’ She was a star of the first magnitude and a truly gracious lady. She was a joy to work with.”
More than anyone, Mary Tyler Moore understood what is was to make women empowered through the images she portrayed and displayed as a producer on network television. Mary Tyler Moore did indeed have a wonderful life…she will be indelibly missed
ABC has scheduled a special episode of 20/20 honoring the late actress. Mary Tyler Moore: After All on Friday at 10 pm ET/9 Central. SundanceTV on Saturday will air all 24 episodes of the final season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, leading up, of course, to Episode 724 – “The Last Show,” which concludes with the most famous group hug in TV history. The all-day marathon begins at 6:00 a.m. ET/5:00 a.m. Central.
PBS said its stations will rebroadcast Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration in honor of the TV icon. The documentary, which first aired in 2015, commemorates Moore and her 50-plus-year career,and features names such as Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, and Valerie Harper, who actually were involved in Moore’s life and work. Check local PBS stations for details.