The writer of “Silver Screen Reflections” remembers actress Mary Tyler Moore, who died on Wed., Jan. 25 at the age of 80.
According to a Turner Classic Movies online biography on Moore, she was born on Dec. 29, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York. She moved with her family to Los Angeles at the age of eight and wanted to pursue a career in ballet.
Her earliest role: “Happy Hotpoint”
One of Moore’s earliest roles on television came in 1956, when she played a dancing elf, named “Happy Hotpoint.” According to Lisa Respers France’s retrospective article on Moore for CNN, she played the “Happy Hotpoint” character in a series of advertisements for Hotpoint appliances, which aired during “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-66)
After playing bit parts in various television shows (including an episode of “77 Sunset Strip” and an episode of Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” series), Moore was cast as Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (Van Dyke played comedy writer Rob Petrie on the series).
According to Mike Barnes’ retrospective on Moore in The Hollywood Reporter, Moore had originally auditioned for the role of Danny Thomas’ older daughter in “The Danny Thomas Show” (also known as “Make Room for Daddy”). In 1961, he suggested to Carl Reiner (who created “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and played TV host Alan Brady on the series) that Moore should play the role of Laura.
With an ensemble cast including Rose Marie (as Sally Rogers), Morey Amsterdam (as Buddy Sorrell), Larry Matthews (as Ritchie Petrie) and Richard Deacon (as Mel Cooley), “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was a smash success for five seasons on CBS. Moore won two Emmy awards for her role of Laura Petrie in 1964 and 1966 (according to IMDB).
After “The Dick Van Dyke Show” ended production in 1966, Moore would appear in various feature films, including the 1967 Ross Hunter-George Roy Hill musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Playing the role of Dorothy Brown, Moore would appear with Julie Andrews (as Millie Dillmount) and Carol Channing (as Muzzy Van Hossmere).
Two years later, Moore would appear in another film, this time with Elvis Presley, Barbara McNair and Jane Elliot in “Change of Habit,” where she would play a nun who is interested in a young doctor (played by Presley).
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77)
In 1970, Moore and her second husband, television executive Grant Tinker formed their own production company, MTM Productions shortly after CBS offered her the chance to develop and act in her own groundbreaking sitcom series, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Playing the role of Minneapolis television news producer Mary Richards, with a supporting cast including Ed Asner (as Lou Grant), Valerie Harper (as Rhoda Morgenstern), Betty White (as Sue Ann Nivens), Cloris Leachman (as Phyllis Lindstrom), Ted Knight (as Ted Baxter), Georgia Engel (as Georgette Franklin) and Gavin MacLeod (as Murray Slaughter), Moore’s sitcom was successful, earning her Emmy nominations every year throughout the show’s seven-season run (winning under the category of Lead Actress in 1973, 1974 and 1976).
Because of the success of Moore’s show, several spin-off shows followed, including “Rhoda” (1974-77), “Phyllis” (1975-76) and “Lou Grant” (1977-82, which was a dramatic series instead of a sitcom). In addition to the spin-offs, MTM Productions had other notable (and successful) series, including “The Bob Newhart Show” (1972-78), “WKRP in Cincinnati” (1978-1982), “Hill Street Blues” (1981-87), “Newhart” (1982-90) and “St. Elsewhere” (1982-88).
That same year, Moore won the Tony Award for her role in the dramatic play “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” According to Robert Simonson’s article on Moore in Playbill, she would win another Tony five years later in the Broadway play “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.” In 2012, she was honored with the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2011, Moore was reunited with Betty White on the TV Land comedy “Hot In Cleveland,” playing the role of Diane in the episode “Free Elka.” In 2013, Moore made her last cameo guest appearance on the aforementioned series in the episode “Love Is All Around” (which is also the title theme song to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” sung by Sonny Curtis and the title of the series pilot). Both Moore and White were reunited with MTM cast members Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel.
Mary Tyler Moore was also known for her charitable efforts, including her position as the International Chairman of the JDRF in 1984 (originally known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1970).
Predeceased by her sister, Elizabeth (d. 1978), brother John Hackett Moore son Richard Meeker, Jr. (d. 1980, from her first marriage to Richard Meeker) and brother John Hackett Moore (d. 1992), she is survived by her third husband, Dr. Robert Levine.
“Silver Screen Reflections” remembers Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017).
This evening, CBS will be airing an hour-long special on the life and career of Mary Tyler Moore, “Mary Tyler Moore: Love Is All Around.” Hosted by CBS News’ Gayle King, the special will be shown at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central.
On Sun., Jan. 29, Me-TV will be honoring Mary Tyler Moore with six definitive episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central. Here are the episodes that will be shown: “Love Is All Around” (series pilot), “Put on a Happy Face,” “The Dinner Party,” “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” “Lou Dates Mary” and “The Last Show” (series finale).
Me-TV is available locally (in the Frederick area) on WJLA-TV 7.2 and on cable channel 204. Complete list of Me-TV affiliates from coast-to-coast
PBS’ 2015 retrospective episode of “Pioneers of Television” on Mary Tyler Moore, “Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration” is available to watch online (at pbs.org).