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R.I.P., Mary Tyler Moore

January 25, 2017

She could turn the world on with her smile, and take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. So long to Mary Tyler Moore, a pop culture icon for more than 50 years.
RIP Mary Tyler Moore

  • One of Moore’s first paid acting gigs: as Happy Hotpoint, a buoyant elf in a 1956 commercial for the Hotpoint Automatic Dishwasher.

  • When Moore was just 25, she got the role of Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She told producers she was older than she was to get the part—costar Dick Van Dyke, who played her husband, was 36 at the time.
  • Producers of The Dick Van Dyke Show balked when Moore wanted her character to wear Capri pants. Up until that time, women who didn’t work outside of the home were seen exclusively in dresses or skirts. But Moore pointed out that all of the women she knew wore pants at home, so the executives relented. Result: Moore became a trendsetter, as Capri pants became a major early ’60s fads.
  • Between the end of The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1966 and the start of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970, Moore tried out a movie career, appearing in a big-screen adaptation of the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the very last Elvis Presley movie, Change of Habit. It was also the last movie Moore would have to the time to make for more than a decade, until Ordinary People in 1980. For that one, Moore won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award. Not so for Change of Habit—she played a young nun that Elvis tried to romance.
  • It was tricky for CBS to launch The Mary Tyler Moore Show because of the strong associations Moore had with her hit ’60s TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show. Steps were taken to carefully differentiate the two shows. For example, Moore’s character of Mary Richards was rewritten to be a single woman living on her own—she was initially divorced, but network executives worried viewers would think that she was playing Laura Petrie from Dick Van Dyke, and that she’d divorced Van Dyke’s character, Rob Petrie. Further, Moore wore a dark wig for the entire first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to make her look as physically different as possible from Laura Petrie.
  • The opening sequence of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is among TV’s most memorable, with Moore walking around famous sites in Minneapolis, where the series was set. It sends with a jubilant Moore throwing her hat up in the air as the soundtrack intones, “you’re gonna make it after all!” In 2002, the TV Land cable network commissioned a statue of Moore in that moment, and they placed it at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis—the very spot that the shot was captured.

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