This past weekend, the Sierra Mist of awards, aka the Golden Globes, were given to Hollywood elite live on NBC, where I am sure countless dozens of people were watching Meryl Streep lecture us all about what is right and wrong, Jimmy Fallon
Yesterday we lost another pop culture icon, a universally beloved star that had a charm and grace endured multiple decades of television and movie. Mary Tyler Moore died at 80 yesterday.
I was first introduced to her as Lori Petty on the quasi-funny but seriously outdated Dick Van Dyke show. In fact that was the show that made her a star. Her ‘Oh Rob’ in her unique quivering voice became a catch phrase for that time.
After her stint on Van Dyke’s show, she received her own three-named show labeled in her honor, the aptly named ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’. Now this is the show that made her a household name.
For its time, the MTM show was considered somewhat bold and daring. Not really because of the jokes or the fact a woman played the lead. It was because the show was about a middle-aged single woman living on her own striving to make her way in the work force.
Say what? How is that bold or daring? I mean women all over this country are living that kind of life. But trust me, it was. In fact, originally Mary was supposed to play a recently divorced woman, but that was too much for the 70’s. I always found that so interesting, how TV was so afraid of portraying things in a realistic light, while movies for decades were willing to show all sorts of realistic depictions of life. The Flintstones were the first TV couple to sleep in the same bed. The damn Flintstones! The Brady Bunch had no toilet in their bathroom. And you will be damned to see any hint of sex pre-1973. Maybe this was because kids could watch TV, maybe because TV was run by puritanical snobs, or maybe TV back then was out of touch.
Anyway, The Mary Tyler Moore show was my favorite show as a kid. Even though I was late to the party and had to see them all in syndication, I thought it was funny, endearing, and very engaging. I am not sure why in retrospect, I mean what did a 9 year old in Arizona have in common with a 30-something career woman in Minnesota. But for some reason I loved it. And I still do. Whether it was Ed Asner’s gruff-but-lovable Lou Grant (only man to win two Emmy’s playing the same role on different shows, besides Frasier), or the original Ron Burgundy in Ted Knight, or the wild and wacky neighbor in Rhoda, or the unfunny one-liners from our ships’ captain in Gavin Mccloud, the Mary Tyler Moore show was a show ahead of its time and paved the way for many other comedies that had a workplace setting and portrayed women outside a family. Oh yeah, it had the greatest TV ending EVER!!!!
Mary Tyler Moore experienced great personal tragedy and hardship. Due to some of these events, she wanted to become a more serious actress. Although she was widely acclaimed for her performance in Ordinary People (a movie I really like), she never captured the same success as she did as a comic actress.
I miss that show. And I will miss her. Even though no one lives forever, Nick at Nite and other syndicated outlets can extend and prolong the joy she brought us. It’s a Long Way to Tipperary…………….