Loved by everyone, I think I can speak for those of us with television being our primary influence as we grew up: I’m grateful I was able to watch a show like “Mary Tyler Moore” in the 1970s, featuring a single working woman in a field dominated by men. She reflected both strength and vulnerability, and also modeled how to be a decent person and good friend.
In the 1970s, that sort of imagery was rare. For many, you were able to rely on your family to show you what the possibilities were; I was alone most of the time, with television as the major influence. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I grew up at a time when it was Mary Tyler Moore as the image and as the messenger.
Thanks Mary, for everything. May you rest in peace.
Television great Mary Tyler Moore, the beloved star of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” died Wednesday in Connecticut, her publicist confirmed. She was 80.
“Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine,” read the statement from Mara Buxbaum, her longtime rep. “A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.”
The vivacious brunette performer transformed the image of women on television first as Van Dyke’s sexy, vulnerable wife Laura Petrie and then as single career girl Mary Richards in her own series. Her work in the two series brought Moore five Emmy Awards, in 1965, 1966, 1973, 1974 and 1976. She won another Emmy for 1993 TV special “Stolen Babies.”
Moore was also a powerhouse producer via her MTM production company with then-husband Grant Tinker, producing her own series as well as “The Bob Newhart Show” and spinoff series “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant,” among others.
She combined wholesomeness and sex appeal with cracker-jack comedic timing. In many ways Moore was a throwback to Hollywood golden era leading ladies like Myrna Loy and Jean Arthur, but with a decidedly updated twist…
With the help of her second husband, producer Tinker, and the talents of creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, she fashioned a new series, “Mary Tyler Moore,” which debuted on CBS in 1970 and revolutionized the sitcom. Even more than the Van Dyke show, it focused heavily on the central character’s work life.
And in this case the central character was a single woman, Mary Richards, carving out a life for herself in Minneapolis. Moore was the pragmatic and delightfully vulnerable center of a strong ensemble cast that included Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Betty White, and Ted Knight. “Mary Tyler Moore” raked in the accolades during its run and thereafter was a permanent fixture in television syndication.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” won the Emmy for comedy show three years in a row, was named as one of the most influential TV shows of all time on numerous lists, and was one of the first shows to tackle issues including equal pay for women, divorce, infidelity, homosexuality, premarital sex, and infertility. Moore’s character even recovers from an addiction to sleeping pills during the show.
This is a nice piece over at USA Today: