Was Mary Tyler Moore just another old actress that died at age 80? She died from complications from type 1 diabetes. She was much more because she changed popular opinion of women. Her shows gave women confidence to try to make the world see their roles in society in a new and more liberating way while doing comedy and just make all smile at the antics of the shows. On The Dick Van Dyke Show she was the first TV wife to wear pants. There was a real chemistry in their TV marriage. Once she said that if they weren’t already married to other people that they would consider a real life romance between her and Dick Van Dyke.
She blossomed even more when she got her own show called The Mary Tyler Moore Show that ran from 1970 to 1977. Her character named Mary Richards was an inspiration to all neglected working girls in offices throughout America. She worked in an office full of chauvinistic men. She was always polite and a good worker but she always battled to decide if she could fight the male status quo. Occasionally she would get up and march into her bosses’ office to speak up for herself. Women would be glued to the TV to see how she handled the situation. Now women shout out for their rights all the time anywhere but 47 years ago it was an entirely new kind of behavior. There were other strong women like the brassy bossy Bea Arthur’s Maude that was a completely different approach to feminism.
Maude aired in 1972 and somehow she got laughs for getting away with insulting just about anyone including men openly. There was no second thoughts or embarrassment or even doubt with Maude. Mary showed the inner struggle to be a nice person but to express her discrimination over wages and office work. In later years Mary spoke more about her personal life and how it was so difficult growing up with alcoholic parents. Women who grew up in similar circumstances learned how to cope from her. In the 1950’s as seen in the other popular TV shows, men came home from work greeted with a cocktail and happy hour was all the rage. Men had bars fully stocked with booze in their offices and women went out for cocktails with the ladies in the afternoons. She grew up in an alcoholic era.
Mary Richard’s persona was successful because it was rooted in something real. Three years after the Mary Tyler Moore show went off the air she stared in a movie with Robert Redford called Ordinary People. She turned off her niceness and played the role of an icy non-emphatic overly defending person that she really was. She stared in a TV movie called Like Mother Like Son where she murders Edith Bunker. It must have been liberating to once play not such a nice person. Mary’s movie career never went anywhere but she continued to delight her fans in projects like the movie in 1996 called Flirting with Disaster. She plays a bitch but manages to make it all be funny.
She will always be remembered for turning life’s despair’s into a coping situation that you could actually laugh about in a sarcastic way. See ya in the reruns girl!