Home / General / Mary Tyler Moore, RIP

Mary Tyler Moore, RIP



Mary Tyler Moore has died, at the age of 80.

We actually made it through over three weeks of 2017 without a major cultural figure dying. And I guess it’s kind of a fitting time to go, a pioneering figure in feminist portrayals in popular culture leaving life when the nation’s government has declared war against everything that stood for.

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    for whatever reason (good signal?) growing up we usually watched CBS shows and it seems like there was a block of sitcoms which included MTM in particular that was a favorite. It was kind of odd when my fourth grade teacher told the class the MTM show was ‘immoral’ (and I can’t remember what her specific reasoning was) but it made no difference- we kept watching

    also: “Ordinary People”– very very different from Mary Richards

    • Bill Murray

      my fourth grade teacher told us the MTM show was ‘immoral’

      single female living alone and making money. Also innuendo about non-marital sex. It was bigly immoral

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        I wish I could remember more clearly what Mrs S said. at any rate the parental units didn’t care what she thought- thanks mom and dad!

        • David Hunt

          I didn’t watch the show (little too young), but I know her friend Rhoda, on her own spinoff show, had an abortion.

          • Norrin Radd

            They also had abortion on Maude. Back in the ’70s it wasn’t nearly as controversial as it is now.

            • David Hunt

              I may have gotten those mixed up. I only learned about it after the fact on some retrospective TV show.

            • Caepan

              Actually, there was quite a bit of controversy about Maude getting an abortion. Many CBS affiliates wouldn’t show the episode out of fear of backlash from the usual suspects.

              In fact, I remember when I was growing up in Pennsyltucky my local CBS station didn’t show it. Instead, they aired some polemic by the Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, followed by some show that I can’t remember. So even in the mid-1970s, we had immature unmarried God botherers forcing others to not watch something they found offensive.

        • so-in-so

          Also, Bob Newhart was controversial because every show ended with Bob and his “wife” Suzanne Pleshet in bed. The same bed. Reading. And talking.

          • osceola

            And they never had kids. Bob insisted that it not become a sitcom with kids. So Bob and Emily were portrayed as a perfectly functional, loving couple without children.

            • so-in-so

              I know, right? Probably lead to the destruction of American society we see rampant today.!

      • Srsly Dad Y

        More than innuendo really! She flat-out stayed out all night one time and came home to find mom there.

  • Nobdy

    She didn’t just portray a strong feminist but a fiercely intelligent and dedicated journalist.

    So yeah, this is pretty symbolic.

    I also thought she was fantastic on the Dick Van Dyke show.

    Who guessed that both Ed Asner and Dick Van Dyke would outlive Mary Tyler Moore?


    • CaptainBringdown

      And Betty White.

      • osceola

        And Gavin McLeod and Valerie Harper, although Harper has been battling cancer for years and might not be here much longer.

        • Jim in Baltimore

          Well, Sandy Duncan is still around.

    • Norrin Radd

      MTM is a genuine American treasure. Good God. To paraphrase The Who: Meet the new year, same as the old year.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Didn’t think anyone would die this year?

        The older you are, the more of them you’ll notice.

        • Origami Isopod

          Last year it was one gut punch after another, starting right off with Rickman and Bowie. Famous people have died so far this year, sure, but MTM was 80, and others have been not quite as iconic.

  • wjts

    And I guess it’s kind of a fitting time to go, a pioneering figure in feminist portrayals in popular culture leaving life when the nation’s government has declared war against everything that stood for.

    You’re the one most likely to succeed
    Just be sure to keep your head, ’cause girl you know that’s all you need.
    Everyone around adores you:
    Don’t give up, the world is waiting for you.

  • osceola

    “Who could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile”

    More proof 2017 is going to suck as bad as last year.

    • Don’t fool yourself. 2017 is going to be way fucking worse than 2016.

      • DrDick

        And we do not even want to think about 2018 (if we survive that long)!

        • Nobdy

          2018 is going to be so bad we’re going to lose Bowie and Prince AGAIN!

          • so-in-so

            Cheeto Benito will ban their subversive music. Just ’cause they’re dead, they refused to play at his inaugural?

            • osceola

              Hear the Lewis Black joke from last week?

              All those famous musicians died last year to get out of playing Trump’s inaugural.

          • DrDick

            Hell, 2018 is going to resurrect Hendrix and Joplin just to kill them again!

  • West


    The Mary Tyler Moore show was a tremendously influential show in my household when I was a kid. Ran from when I was 10 to when I was 17. My mom was a working mom (though not single), and with strong though not radical feminist leanings. At least, not radical in my eyes, but I’m sure she was seen as radical by some of the traditionalists in the neighborhood.

    I distinctly remember this as one of those conversation-starter shows, and although I can’t remember any specific conversations, I do distinctly have the impression that such conversations helped shape my attitudes to women working. A classic case where comedy can initiate conversations that are hard to get going.

    I remember this show having greater impact in my household than All in the Family, which we also watched. That was so over the top that I think we may have suspected lots of our neighbors were laughing with Archie Bunker, not at him (though I don’t remember that being articulated out loud). MTM could sometimes veer close to slapstick, the Ted Baxter character especially, but it always somehow rang far more true to me than All in the Family. Maybe because my mom actually did know women somewhat similar to the character Moore portrayed, and the Rhoda character too, and I knew those women, too, through my mom.

    It’s one of those shows that really permeates my childhood memories so much I have a hard time keeping it in the fiction category.

    • Randy

      I remember this show having greater impact in my household than All in the Family, which we also watched.

      All in the Family was also preachy. There was A Message in each episode and you were going to hear that message, by God. MTM didn’t bring up big topics, but just showed a single woman supporting herself without being overtly on the prowl for a husband.

      It’s hard to imagine now, but that was a big deal for TV in 1970.

      • Norrin Radd

        Throw in One Day at a Time while you’re at it. And Maude of course.

        I liked them all.

        I thought the great genius of All in the Family was that they could make the most serious, heinous issues laugh out loud hilarious. Even MASH struggled to do that.

      • TopsyJane

        The Moore show explored a number of “big topics,” actually. In one season, Moore was jailed for refusing to reveal a source. Briefly Mary gets hooked on sleeping pills. There are other examples.

        In the era of Moore and Norman Lear, it was often the situation comedy, not the average network drama, that was introducing and dealing with serious and sometimes controversial matters, including social issues like abortion rights and personal issues like adultery and divorce. The television show of that era presenting cops operating in a realistic quotidian environment was a sitcom, Barney Miller. (Ron Glass, aka Detective Harris, author of “Blood on the Badge,” died last year. RIP.)

    • LNM_in_LA

      I do, however remember vividly the All In The Family episode where Archie found out that his ruggedly manly buddy was gay. Tweaked my adolescent intellectual head a bit, and reinforced that burgeoning sense that life was a LOT more complicated than my v conservative Lutheran parents were letting on.

      It set me up to be a lot more understanding when I gradually realized that one of my closest friends was indeed gay.

      Sometimes preachy can work.

  • Crusty

    While he isn’t quite a major cultural figure, Butch Trucks, a founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, died earlier today at age 69.

    • Dennis Orphen

      And they always go in threes. Who’s next?

    • Given the clean living of the Allman Brothers Band, I can’t believe Trucks didn’t make it to 90.

      • Crusty

        Of the four original members alive prior to Trucks death, I would have had my money on him to live the longest. Gregg and Dickey are extremely unhealthy and look it. Dickey might be in some kind of state where years of alcohol abuse has achieved some sort of pickling and preserving effect. Jaimoe looked to be a little heavier than Butch. And Butch seemed to wear some big ear protection on stage when he played, indicating occasional concern for health and safety.

    • I suppose Maggie Roche doesn’t count as a major cultural figure either, but news of her death the other day carried a pang. The NYT obit gave out her age, but not her phone number.

      • dp

        Oh my, I had not heard that. RIP

  • Captain Oblivious

    80 is a ripe old age for a Type I diabetic. Among her other achievements, she was an inspiration to other diabetics at a time when the disorder was much more difficult to manage (not that it’s easy now).

    • LosGatosCA

      Exactly. i have diabetic friends that dream of making it that long.

  • David Hunt

    Saw the news and had an irresistible urge to look up the lyrics to It’s a Long Way to Tipperary. When I get home from work I’ll play it in her honor.

  • Damn. And Ed Asner is still kickin’

    • Kurzleg

      Whatever you think of Oliver Stone’s JFK, Asner’s turn in that film is terrific, as is (of course) Lemmon’s, Candy’s, Bacon’s…

  • Caepan

    Damn. Mary Tyler Moore was one of the last of the old-school “triple threat” performers – she could act, dance and sing. Plus, she had great comedic timing.

    And she was so influential on one or more generations of women who wanted to “make it after all.” Mary Richards could be vulnerable, strong-willed, self-doubting, confidant and self-depreciating – and that would be in just one episode! Many of the creative people involved in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, such as James L. Brooks, would go on to make some of the best films and television of the next forty years.

    And Butch Trucks’ passing sucks as well. Damn.

    • Hogan

      Many of the creative people involved in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, such as James L. Brooks, would go on to make some of the best films and television of the next forty years.

      Including, of course, Mary Tyler Moore, founder of MTM Enterprises.

    • keta

      Yes, she was a major inspiration to the careers of many of her co-workers.

      Gavin MacLeod left the newsroom, finally got his captain’s papers and became the best-known skipper in the cruise line industry.

      Ted Knight left broadcasting and became a judge, while simultaneously helping found a swanky country club that, sadly, came to an explosive pass.

      Sue Ann Nivens swapped showcasing her homemaking skills on teevee for shepherding three younger women through life’s travails. She was also instrumental in bringing Cleveland their first professional sports championship in fifty-two years.

      Mary’s boss, Lou Grant, never left the news business and returned to print journalism as a city editor on a Los Angeles paper. Grant never refers to his years in Minneapolis (fueling speculation of some shameful events), gets much better at hiding his alcoholism, and becomes crankier.

      In perhaps the most bizarre twist, Mary’s landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom, becomes infamous for having a tryst with a teenage boy in a small Texas town. When exposed, her shame precipitates her move to San Francisco.

      Of course, Mary’s best friend Rhoda moves to New York city and finds true love. In an interesting side note, Rhoda’s sister, Brenda, later changed her name to Marge and married Homer Simpson.

      Mary Tyler Moore obviously had a huge impact on the lives of her fellow actors.

  • jeer9

    Pretty much had every episode memorized (what with a decade’s worth of re-runs playing daily), sort of the same way I’ve got every Seinfeld down and can recite the next line before it’s said.

    I love the story from the mid-Seventies that someone related. MTM was sunning herself on a Malibu beach and a shadow suddenly blocked the view – whereupon she heard a very distinguished and recognizable voice say, “I just wanna say I think you’re terrific.”

    It was Cary Grant.

    • Thank you. I love that story. It fits into my impression of how people should always treat someone like MTM, as well as how I like to think Grant always comported himself.

      • jeer9

        Gonna have to break out the box set tonight and watch a few of my favorites.

        1. The death of Chuckles the Clown/laughter at the funeral.

        2. Mary betrays the secret that Lou has drunkenly slept with Sue Anne and Lou says that they will continue to work together and treat each other professionally but they are no longer FRIENDS! Mary breaks down and realizes that the only way she can regain Lou’s friendship is if she divulges a terrible secret of her own – that she once slept with a famous newsman visiting Minneapolis. When Lou seems incredulous at the suggestion that it was Walter Cronkite, Mary follows up with: “Would you believe … Roger Mudd?”

        3. The visit to Sue Anne’s bedroom.

        • LNM_in_LA

          A little song, a little dance,
          A little seltzer in your pants…

          • LNM_in_LA

            And who can forget,
            “I HATE spunk”

            • howard

              i was just about to post that!

        • njorl

          I always thought the death of Chuckles was the funniest sitcom episode ever. Even better than “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

          • dp

            From another MTM Enterprises show!

  • CJColucci

    There goes my idea for a Dick Van Dyke Show reunion one-shot based on Rob Petrie coming out of retirement to work on an Alan Brady special. Carl Reiner would reprise his role as Brady, Rob Reiner would play the Mel Cooley-type character, Rob would still be married to Laura and would be put in charge of a stable of comedy writers two generations younger than he is. I was seriously going to pitch this to someone this year. It might still work, but it would be a much darker show with a divorced or bereaved Rob.
    Rest in peace Mary.

  • Thom

    The MTM show was great (for its time and my age at the time). But I also have fond memories of Laura (“Oh, Rob”) Petrie.

    • sk7326

      Also a groundbreaking female on TV. Wearing capri pants – modeling family (which would have a child) that was not revolving around the children.

      • Randy

        Wearing capri pants – modeling family (which would have a child) that was not revolving around the children.

        After the first couple of seasons, Richie Petrie got in the way of the script, so he was always “away with the Cub Scouts” or something. Either that was a euphemism for “rented out for medical experiments,” or they had a sitcom “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” thing going on.

    • howard

      i’m pleased to say that the 12-year-old likes the show on netflix: he is particularly into buddy’s jokes about mel….

  • sharonT

    Oh, this is sad. I’ve been watching The MTM Show almost every night since the election. (All of the seasons are on iTunes) I don’t know exactly why I picked it for my nightly Trump-repellent, but really, I know. I was eleven when the show started, and Mary was modeling what I wanted my life to look like when I grew up. I wanted to be smart and resillant, independent and ready to take on the world.

    It was appointment viewing, along with that whole block of CBS comedies, for my family too. It still holds up.

    And yes, Chuckles the Clown is still a damn funny episode.

  • sk7326

    And not just a revolutionary portrayal of women on TV (twice! Laura Petrie counts). But also emphasized female writers in the writers room, and a super powerful force in showbiz generally. Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues.

    She is (off the top of my head) up there alone with Lucille Ball for the most important female in the entire medium.

  • SqueakyRat

    Maggie Roche died the other day. Major to me!

    • Kurzleg

      Didn’t know her, but 65? Damn!

  • John Revolta

    I remember a great line of hers I read somewhere:

    “I have three things that help me get through life: a wonderful and supportive husband, a fantastic therapist, and millions and millions of dollars.”

    • Kurzleg

      And I guess she knew those three wouldn’t get her through the Trump presidency.

  • Kurzleg

    Not cultural per se, but Gene Cernan passed away last week. Last human to walk on the moon. For me, the same impact as a cultural icon passing. And this freaked me out:

    “There’s going to come a time and it’s probably going to be in the next decade or so when none of the moonwalkers are going to be left,” said National Air and Space Museum associate director Roger Launius.

    “As this history recedes into the background and fewer and fewer people remember it, the more mythological it becomes,” he said. “The majority of the human race has been born since we’ve left the moon so they don’t have knowledge of it.”

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