Mary Tyler Moore: 1936 – 2017Posted: January 25, 2017
The vivacious brunette performer transformed the image of women on television first as Van Dyke’s sexy, vulnerable wife Laura Petrie and then as single career girl Mary Richards in her own series. Her work in the two series brought Moore five Emmy Awards, in 1965, 1966, 1973, 1974 and 1976. She won another Emmy for 1993 TV special “Stolen Babies.”
Moore was also a powerhouse producer via her MTM production company with then-husband Grant Tinker, producing her own series as well as “The Bob Newhart Show” and spinoff series “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant,” among others.
She combined wholesomeness and sex appeal with cracker-jack comedic timing. In many ways Moore was a throwback to Hollywood golden era leading ladies like Myrna Loy and Jean Arthur, but with a decidedly updated twist.
Her role as Laura Petrie, the suburban wife of comedy writer Rob Petrie, also represented a step forward for the portrayal of women on television. Though they maintained separate beds, the Petries otherwise shared an active, romantic marital life. And unlike Desi Arnaz on “I Love Lucy,” Van Dyke’s character was not threatened by his wife’s talents or her intelligence.
The series made Moore a star, and she worked on films under contract at Universal. With the exception of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in which she played third fiddle to Julie Andrews and the scene-stealing Carol Channing, the studio’s attempts to fashion her in the Doris Day mold was unsuccessful. Moore also tried her hand at the Broadway stage, co-starring with Richard Chamberlain in David Merrick’s musical version of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
With the help of her second husband, producer Tinker, and the talents of creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, she fashioned a new series, “Mary Tyler Moore,” which debuted on CBS in 1970 and revolutionized the sitcom. Even more than the Van Dyke show, it focused heavily on the central character’s work life…(read more)