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The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired from September 1970 until September 1977 on CBS.
For more on The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to the mini page right here at Sitcoms Online.
An Article From Time Magazine
Monday, Sep. 03, 1973 Article
Before Actress Valerie Harper got the part of Rhoda Morgenstern Mary Tyler Moore's scatty Bronx Jewish neighbor her agent warned her that she was really not right for the role. Neither Jewish nor a native New Yorker, Valerie had little in common with Rhoda except the soft, lumpy look of a girl with a weakness for cheesecake, cookies, cupcakes and brownies. At rehearsals, Valerie got few laughs in the role.
But when they brought in the audience and set the cameras rolling, something clicked. "Why am I eating this piece of candy? I ought to just apply it directly to my hips," Valerie would say, and hundreds of fans would write in describing their own caloric calamities. When she had a confrontation with the TV mother, Jewish mothers all over America volunteered advice. In a few weeks Rhoda Morgenstern became TV's favorite wisecracking overweight spinster, and Valerie Harper emerged as a winningly wacky comic actress. Before the season ended, she won the first of her three Emmy awards, for a show in which Mary fixed up a date for her with an old flame who showed up with his wife. Said Rhoda: "I'd like to introduce you to my date, Mr. and Mrs. Armand Linton."
"People identify with Rhoda because she's a loser," says Valerie. "The human condition is one of self-doubt. But Rhoda is able to laugh it off, coming out on top so she's a victorious loser." By the end of last season, Rhoda had become such a winner that jokes about her weight and looks were discontinued. This season, notes Ed Weinberger, executive producer of the Mary Tyler Moore Show: "we've cut out man-chasing jokes." The reason? Valerie joined Weight Watchers and dropped from 160 Ibs. to 140. Now, in order to remain a plausibly bachelor career girl, she tones down her striking good looks beneath caftans and kimonos and by appearing with unwashed hair.
Off-camera is another matter. Dark and vivacious, she is in perpetual motion, hands gesticulating, expressions changing like neon signs. Her conversation is a Catherine wheel of intelligent, breathlessly unfinished sentences about a dozen topics from Watergate to cat breeding to the weaknesses in the Stanislavsky method of acting. She will not, however, go on talk shows: "I'm not into glamour. I don't want to sit there like a box of cornflakes."
Born in Suffern, N.Y., the daughter of a nomadic industrial lighting salesman, Valerie and her family settled in Jersey City, N.J., when she was 12. A victim of the movie The Red Shoes, she decided to become a ballerina. "I was heavy into recitals, a real little dancing queen," she recalls. "I tapped Tea for Two in silver lamb, and I used to do a sexy In a Persian Market in a mock leopard costume with a bare midriff."
At 16 she became a $61 a week Radio City Music Hall dancer "not a Rockette; we were the ones in the corners on tiptoe waving ribbons and little umbrellas." Then she graduated to Broadway chorus jobs, and eventually wound up in Chicago with Paul Sills' Second City after marrying one of its actors, Richard Schaal. Along the way she supported herself by appearing in industrial shows introducing new products to out-of-town distributors. Her most memorable roles: a stripteaser in a peanut-butter show, and a dancer who pirouetted around a Chevrolet singing, "The mighty voice of Chevrolet rings out across the land."
Five years ago, Valerie and her husband moved to Los Angeles. "Things were going well for Dick," she recalls, "but I just sat in Laurel Canyon sobbing and eating Sara Lee cakes all day." That was pre-Rhoda. Now, when the new Mary Tyler Moore season begins next week, her role will be upgraded so that she appears with the star in the weekly opening footage. And recently she branched out to her first film role, playing the Mexican wife of Alan Arkin in the forthcoming Freebie and the Bean. "When they offered me the part," she says, "I said you ought to get a Chicano girl, but if you're going with Sandra Dee, then take me."
Another Article From Time Magazine
Goodbye To 'OUR MARY'
Monday, Mar. 14, 1977 By LANCE MORROW Article
Her genius was always in her reactions to things. Some small outrage would happen by, and Mary, a Bert Lahr born lovely, would do a fine, slow burn, her indignation developing like a Polaroid "Oh, Mr. Grant!"
The Mary Tyler Moore Show has amounted to only 84 hours of viewing time over the past seven years. This month MTM will broadcast its final episode. The tearful farewell has already been taped: new owners take over Mary's mythical WJM-TV in Minneapolis and decide that WJM'S local news program is not much good. Everyone has known as much for years, of course; that was one of its charms the small, endearing air of incompetence, of inadequacy that surrounded the characters. Now everyone on the staff except Ted Baxter, the anchorman with the mane of Eric Sevareid and the brain of a hamster, is fired. So ends the MTM show. The real Mary Tyler Moore will take some time off and eventually develop a new series.
In many places around the U.S., the Mary Tyler Moore Show changed the nature of Saturday nights; it even became fashionable to spend them at home. The show turned the situation comedy into something like an art form a slight art form perhaps, but a highly polished one. MTM was the sitcom that was intellectually respectable. The writing, acting and directing on MTM have been the best ever displayed in TV comedy. Owing much to Moore, who always set a tone of perfectionism, the show has been technically superb and beautifully paced. Former CBS Executive James Aubrey used to say, "The American public is something I fly over." But unlike 90% of TV's sitcoms, MTM has always transmitted intelligence, along with a rather unique respect for its characters and its audience. The snorting, hoorawing Archie Bunker's All in the Family has no such charm. Over the years, MTM has been rich enough in its talent to spin off Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) into fairly good series of their own.
In its gentle way, the show changed television's image of women. During the pleistocene era of Ozzie and Harriet or Donna Reed, the women, in skirts curiously bouffant for housework, had to make their witticisms in or near the kitchen, lest the chocolate-chip cookies burn. Mary Tyler Moore, playing Rob Petrie's wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66), wore tighter dresses but was a thoroughly suburban housewife: Rob went to work, Laura worried about the pet duck catching cold.
TV shows either reflect or strangely caricature their times. In That Girl (1966), Mario Thomas played a single girl in New York City making her career, but always Mom and Dad hovered; her independence was somehow merely cute, a phase. In MTM, Mary Richards Moore's character gave a humanely plausible version of American women some American women in the early and mid-'70s. Not many, of course, are as lovely as Mary or as funny. She was single, independent, pursued her career, was interested in men but not in an obsessive, husband-trapping way. Many women in the audience felt happier with themselves because of her.
Mary Richards was always more interesting and complicated than any subliminal politics of sex. With her independence came a rather sweet vulnerability. Mary could not bring herself to call Lou Grant by his first name; a daughterly side of her character would not permit it. Her sexual attraction had a fascinating ambiguity. Her allure never threatened anyone. Women watchers of the show thought of her roughly as a Great Gal. Men, who usually found her immensely sexy, also felt somehow protective about her. Several years ago, when Mary Richards spent the night with a date, men all over the country were inconsolable; they felt betrayed.
Mary Richards' age (mid-30s) was also part of her charm almost a relief after a period when the nation seemed overrun and overwhelmed by the very young. Timing, in fact, may have contributed to MTM's popularity. During Watergate and the long ending of the Viet Nam War, when the nation was feeling especially baleful, these characters in an out-of-the-way local TV station, with their family feeling, may have suggested that it was possible to deal with the world without being either Patty Hearst or R.D. Laing. They became part of the viewer's family, comfortable to have around.
On MTM, characters developed, changed, some times in ways disconcerting to all those schooled in the inevitability of happy endings. Lou Grant (Edward Asner) and his wife Edie (Priscilla Morrill) separated; she felt stultified and wanted to try a different life. Ah well, the faithful said, they will get back together. They did not; they got divorced. In one of the more touching shows, Edie remarried, with Lou attending; afterward, the entire WJM newsroom ended up weeping uncontrollably in a bar as Lou tried to comfort them. In another moving and improbably funny show. Chuckles the Clown, while dressed up as a peanut, was stomped to death by an elephant. Divorce, death and departure were part of the show's workings; MTM possessed at least that much realism.
But the key to MTM was its innocence its almost Kuklapolitan charm, its absence of malice. Inside all the characters Mary herself. Ted, Lou, Georgette, Newswriter Murray Slaughter, Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens, Rhoda and Phyllis while they were still there were children who coped as well as possible with an adult world, but retained a kind of wistfulness. They sniped at one an other, but without bloodshed.
Beyond theory, MTM has been good because the writing has usually come in lovely light bursts of very funny lines. Sue Ann, played with genius by Betty White, flashes a domestic smile as if about to explain how to remove coffee stains; she eyes a man in the room and exclaims with sweet enthusiasm, "What a hunk!" Mary's humor was usually reactive; the funny one-liners revolved around her. Often they concerned her war against her own Wasp primness and repression. "I always wash my hair before I go to the hair dresser," she once confessed disconsolately. "When ever anyone's stomach rumbles, I'm terrified that someone will think it was me."
Now Mary Tyler Moore may replace Lucille Ball as the empress of the reruns, TV's weird feat of afterlife remaindered shows from other eras appearing like apparitions on marginal channels. It is comforting to know that some MTM favorites will be coming around again. But it is also somehow depressing. Delight can rarely be recycled. Lance Morrow
To watch episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1uFK4Lp5UlC08WvzwXNheQ
For a Website dedicated to The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to https://web.archive.org/web/20070219124611/http://www.mtmshow.com/
For Tim's TV Showcase go to http://timvp.com/tv/marytylermooreshow/
For a Page dedicated to The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to https://web.archive.org/web/20120516102035/http://tvland.classictvhits.com/MaryTylerMoore/
For an Article on The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to https://tv.avclub.com/how-the-mary-tyler-moore-show-reinvented-the-sitcom-in-1798238771
For some Mary Tyler Moore Show-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/mary-tyler-moore-show-the
For 2 reviews of The Mary Tyler Moore Show go to http://www.museum.tv/eotv/marytylermo.htm and https://web.archive.org/web/20080609082616/http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/mtm.htm
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Keywords: The Cast of Mary Tyler Moore Show (Links Updated 7/10/18)