By Steve Svetovich
She could turn the world on with her smile.
She could take a nothing day and suddenly make it seem worthwhile.
Well, it’s you girl and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement you show it.
Love is all around…
And those were the first few words of the theme song to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” which was broadcast for seven years in the 1970s with multiple Emmy Awards.
How fitting, and now the whole country is mourning the passing of Mary Tyler Moore late last month at 80.
Everyone loved Mary Tyler Moore. If you were a young woman, you wanted to be her. If you were a young man, you wanted to date her.
For many men today in their early 50s and older, she was our first childhood crush going back to the days in the 1960s when she played the married Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and into the 1970s when she played the single Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
She literally was a TV icon who turned the world on with her smile.
In the 1970s, her character Mary Richards defined a new version of being a woman in America. It was okay for a woman to be single and have a career.
Her character was that of a single woman in her 30s working in a newsroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had a working life and a single social life.
Every young woman wanted to be Mary flinging her woolen beret into the air in the big city as her character Mary Richards does during the opening theme song. It became her signature moment.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired from 1970 to 1977 quickly gained the popularity that the Dick Van Dyke Show did in the 1960s. Only this time the seven-time Emmy Award winner played a single working woman in contrast to the more old-fashioned stay-at-home wife with Dick Van Dyke as her TV husband.
She exemplified what women were becoming in the 1970s and gave them a TV role model to follow.
And as her TV boss Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner, said in the opening episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” she had “spunk.”
She portrayed a very respectable 30-something woman who had a career and thrived in the newsroom, but also had a vibrant social life. Mary Richards in the show dated, but was in no rush to get married.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was one of the very first TV shows that featured an independent career woman who seemed real to all of us and had depth in her character. Women identified with her and the relationships she had with her friends Rhoda and Phyllis, played by co-stars Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman.
And what a cast–which also included Asner, Ted Knight, Gavin McCloud, Betty White and Georgia Engel. All went on to long lasting and highly successful acting careers.
And don’t forget the cast on her previous series which included Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” ran from 1961 to 1966 and won her two of her seven Emmy’s. As cute and vivacious as a young woman can be, she brought Capri pants into fashion.
Her character of Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” gave women hope and said it was okay to have dreams of work and a career.
She was portrayed as a single working woman who was exuberant, professional, humorous, sisterly in an office setting, polite and unassuming, yet strong with a backbone.
And she had the greatest, most inviting smile.
After “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran its course, she set out to demonstrate her range as an actress. She earned a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of a guilt-ridden mother whose son had died in the movie, “Ordinary People.”
Although her acting career continued to flourish, she was beset with some personal problems in her life. Her son Richard died from an accidental self-inflicted gun shot. She entered the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 due to a drinking problem. She conquered that. She battled Type I diabetes from age 33 on and in 2011 underwent brain surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.
But through it all, her effervescent personality never changed and she was adored by the public.
She battled through it all with no complaints. Always with a smile.
The Screen Actors Guild gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
She made a fitting final acting appearance in 2013 on “Hot in Cleveland” when she was reunited with her former “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-stars Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Georgia Engel. It was one of TV’s best moments.
In recent years, the town of Minneapolis in tribute to Mary, had her throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins baseball game. In true character, Mary, dressed in a Twins uniform, gallantly strode to the mound with great enthusiasm and emulated a pitcher gazing at the batter and fired a lefty strike to home plate.
She could make everyone become a Twins fan.
Almost everyone of us, man or woman, boy or girl, could not wait to tune into “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s. She was universally loved by all.
Throughout her iconic career and with all her awards and accomplishments, she remained humble, human and respectable. Despite her great beauty, she was never trashy.
Every man wanted to meet a woman like Mary Tyler Moore. And every woman wanted to move to a place like Minneapolis, throw her beret in the air and be like Mary Tyler Moore.
The theme song concludes: “You’re gonna make it after all.”
Mary Tyler Moore was an absolutely wonderful actress, role model and stunning woman.
She sure had spunk.
And she made it “after all.”
RIP Mary Tyler Moore.