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The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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I was just thinking that Murray's basic housing costs may well have been lower than those of Mary, despite his being a family of five and later six. He likely had a mortgage taken out some years earlier with a low monthly payment. Mary would have had her apartment rent go up yearly, often by a substantial chunk,  in those high inflation seventies.

 

Of course his other costs (food, clothing) would be greater and he too would be affected by a galloping cost of living in other areas, but he would benefit as a homeowner.

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I always forget John Amos(Good Times, Roots) was on the show for a dozen episodes as Gordy the weatherman. Here's a great interview from The Vulture where he discusses his long career and his time on MTM:

 

So how did you ultimately make the jump to performing, and to MTM?
One day I had lunch with two of the writers on the [Leslie Uggams] show, Lorenzo Music and Dave Davis. And they said, "John, when you act out these sketches for our guest artists, we think you’ve got the chops. We’re involved in the development of something called The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and we think you’d be right for one of the characters." I just took it with a grain of salt. It sounded too good to be true. But later they stayed true to their word. When The Mary Tyler Moore Show [was picked up to series], they called me.

Did you have to try out for the gig?
I auditioned for Mary, Grant Tinker, and the powers that be, and got the job as Gordy the weatherman. It became a recurring character.

Because of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ms. Moore was already a TV icon of sorts even before she got her own series. What was your experience working with her?
The joy of working with Mary was, you knew who the star of the show was. It was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. So there were no attempts to upstage her, or any of the other things that usually go with actors surrounding the star. It was a harmonious set. She and Phyllis and Valerie got along great, because all they would talk about, all day long, was diets and health food. [Laughs.] As soon as they got to the set, the conversation would start. So they had a nice little [group] going. And they all got along great. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I felt, for the first time, that I was part of a real, meaningful ensemble. I had no idea the show was quite as successful as it was, and as it became, until later. But I was gratified to have been involved.

For someone looking to break into TV acting, it had to have been an amazing opportunity.
I couldn’t have had better training. The ensemble cast speaks for itself. Everybody was stage-trained and extremely competent, and they all spun off into their own shows successfully.

Any other memories of the cast stand out?
Ted Knight was an absolute comedic genius. And he loved his part so much. He’d fashioned him after George Putnam, who was a very right-wing news personality at that time. And he did a magnificent job — so much so that … one day he shared with the cast a fan letter he had gotten from a lady who just could not stand [Ted Baxter]. She said, “Ted, you are the most obnoxious, most egotistical news person I’ve ever seen in my life.” She thought that he was real. He couldn’t wait to share it with us. This woman had bought into his character 100 percent, and he loved that.

How did the role of Gordy go from a one-off to recurring?
After my first episode as a guest character, [co-creator] Allan Burns came over and said, “You did well. We’ll see you soon.” No commitments, no promises. But then one day he came over and gave me a compliment. It was after one episode where I’d had a little more dialogue than usual, and I’d handled it fairly well. And he said, “This guy’s a starker.” And I said, “A starker? What the hell does that mean?” I thought I’d been called everything in the books. But the bottom line was, it was a compliment that meant you were a very competent craftsman at comedy or whatever was presented to you. I had to get that explained to me by Gavin MacLeod, or it might have been Ed Asner. I saw it as a badge of honor. I was being accepted.

What was sort of great about Gordy is that he was a weatherman — and not a sportscaster. Back in the early 1970s, that was definitely playing against stereotype.
That was indicative of Jim Brooks’s and Allan Burns’s sensitivity. They did not pander to the lowest common denominator in terms of stereotypes or cheap humor. In fact, they were so skilled as writers, they had Cloris Leachman — her character [Phyllis] — assume I was a sportscaster, because I was a fairly large guy and I was black. And those were the only faces you saw in any prominence on the TV screen in those days. So they played against that. They had her make that assumption, when in fact Gordie was a meteorologist, which blew Phyllis’s mind. But I loved it! It was going against the grain, and it showed their sensitivity. They capitalized on the stereotypical thinking.

I understand not every single person on the set had such advanced thinking — that one time someone on the crew made some pretty ugly comments toward you as a “joke.”
It was so infrequent that happened. [The producers] created an atmosphere of tolerance so that if someone said something like that, they stood out like a sore thumb. One particular day, we were rehearsing a scene, and they wanted the photographer to shoot some good stills. And this one, let’s call him an “unenlightened individual,” said, “John, smile so we can see your teeth and we can know where you are.” There was complete silence on the set. I didn’t say a word or react at all. I knew that was coming out of left field from someone who was a little bit deranged, so no sense in me reacting. The next day that person was gone, never to be seen again. And he had been with the show since its inception. But his views on race got out of hand, and his mouth took control, and it cost him his job. They weren’t going to have anything that was going to be a disruptive factor on their set.

How many episodes did you end up ultimately doing?
All told? I’d say I did maybe ten, 12 episodes over the course of the show. It might have been as high as 14. I can’t recall. I just remember it was a wonderful experience — terrific. I couldn’t wait to get to work every time they called me. I was living fairly close by, in Topanga Canyon, and I was just starting my family, so it couldn’t have come at a better time. And I really regretted leaving the show — I didn’t realize how much I’d regret it — for Good Times, because Good Times was originally only a pilot. And nobody knew if it was going to fly. I had to make a commitment; I couldn’t do both shows. So I opted to take the Good Times offer and contract. It meant more money, but the working conditions were not as … I wasn’t as happy. I’ll leave that way.

 

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Thanks for posting that, VCRTracking. What a great interview. I had to look it up, but John Amos was in 13 episodes of TMTMS. His first show was when Phyllis was hired to be Mary's assistant. He was in four or five episodes each of the first three seasons, then came back in the final season for "Hail the Conquering Gordy".

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I remember that one. Ted was jealous because Gordy was on a major network. I think Amos had been fired from Good Times by that point.

Edited by VCRTracking
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I saw the PBS show, and was surprised that Georgia Engel didn't appear, unless I missed her. 
As far as I can tell, she was the only living cast member who didn't appear.

 

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No, Georgia Engel didn't appear. I noticed that as  well. Personally, I found the program a bit odd. Clips of minor guest-starring appearances from the fifties but nothing about her iconic role (voice and legs) on Richard Diamond. Understandable discussion  of Lucille Ball from Ms. Moore's early days but nothing from or about her seventies CBS comedic contemporary Carol Burnett. Also, I did wonder when the interviews were filmed. Many seemed quite contemporary  but thought perhaps those of Ms. Moore were done some years earlier.

 

Great to see Pat Carroll though. I remember her all the way back to The Danny Thomas Show!

Edited by dustylil

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MTM did look younger than I'd expect her to be now, and also, parts of the show seemed like a memorial show, and I was wondering if she'd died and I missed.

Too, Valerie Harper looked well, and the last I read she was very ill.

(We never watched the Danny Thomas Show at our house.

We had my grandmother's old TV, and could only get NBC and DuMont.)

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Mary Richards is still held up today as the idealized single woman.  Whenever there is a show, especially a comedy, with a young woman as the star, the comparisons get made for better or worse.

The  show itself is considered a classic and taking it cues from The Dick Van Dyke Show, was one of the first shows  the pioneered the "workplace comedy" group ensemble and influenced everything from WKRP, Taxi, Cheers, Murphy Brown to even 30 Rock and The Office.

I would also say the theme song is iconic as is the image of Mary throwing her hat into the air in the opening.  

THIS!

I love this show so much and the others that you mentioned.

Sometimes I am afraid to open the thread because I dread that day.... when I have to read....

I cant say it.

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I found the program a bit odd. Clips of minor guest-starring appearances from the fifties but nothing about her iconic role (voice and legs) on Richard Diamond. Understandable discussion  of Lucille Ball from Ms. Moore's early days but nothing from or about her seventies CBS comedic contemporary Carol Burnett.

 

I'm not surprised about Richard Diamond.  The show is fairly obscure sixty+ years later, it sounds like a demeaning role, even if it gave her prominence and, at least, according to Wikipedia, MTM only appeared in seven episodes.       

 

As to Lucy, my guess is they focused on the connection between the two since they were both sitcom stars, while Burnett had a variety show.  

Edited by txhorns79

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Watching the finale, all I can say is: Wow, Phyllis is a huge bitch to Rhoda.  It's not even a fun back and forth, it's Phyllis nastily telling Rhoda she wasn't told about Lars' death because Phyllis didn't want Rhoda at the funeral, and Phyllis taking weird pleasure in Rhoda's marriage to Joe falling apart.  

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Richard Diamond really isn't an obscure title to those who enjoy digging into the history of TV. And to those who know MTM's professional history, it's one of the key stepping-stones to fame. Plus, as the chance of seeing an entire episode of it these days seem rather slim,* it would've been gratifying to actually see one of her scenes, after just reading about it all these years.

 

(*I mean on TV; I know that episodes have been posted on YouTube, though I haven't located any MTM vignettes yet.)

Edited by Rinaldo

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I would swear I had seen a lot of the interview clips before, either in something on TV or an extra on the DVD's. It felt like the show was pieced together from other available shows.

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Richard Diamond really isn't an obscure title to those who enjoy digging into the history of TV.

 

I'd say it's obscure in that it doesn't really come up when one is looking back at classic television, isn't readily available in reruns and didn't have the continuing impact of other shows with which Moore was associated.     

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I'd say it's obscure in that it doesn't really come up when one is looking back at classic television, isn't readily available in reruns and didn't have the continuing impact of other shows with which Moore was associated.     

 

 

 Truthfully, would anyone under 70 still remember this were it not for Miss Moore's fleeting contribution?

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Not a Christmas story: the singalong scene with the funny hats, Lou wearing a sombrero and barking out the line "three French hens" from the twelve days of Christmas. One of those sneaky surreal moments in the series.

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I suppose carrying Ted's character would have been exhausting, but Ted Knight did so many tight comedic bits with it. Maybe he never actually knew how good he was, to have come up with so much creative interpretation of a character lots of actors wouldn't have been able to do much with.

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Looking back at the many scenes/ mini sketches that focus on Mary and Lou Grant's recurring bits, my favorites with Lou and Mary In Lou's office. These just got better as the character of their acquaintance gets more established as the series matured. My very favorite comes in the final season where Mary is creating the line-up for the Teddy awards, and she gets the idea that she should sing "one for my baby" for the show. She then proceeds to perform the most wretched cover of the song ever done. Lou is trying not to hurt her feelings, and treats her whole audition as though it were a joke she created to make him laugh. It's not an easy bit to do, but mtm amd Asner made it work.

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I especially enjoyed that because it made a neat mockery of the whole "the cast shows off their song-and-dance skills" sort of episode, such as most shows were apt to do (and The Dick Van Dyke Show, which I love, had done too often). If only they had stuck to their guns and not given us Georgette in "Steam Heat."

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I hated the ending of 'Sue Ann Gets Canned' and wish Mary had told Lou to stuff it when he tried to guilt trip her into hiring Sue Ann and that she'd learn to live with his disappointment. Then again, I wish Mary had also let Phyllis [on her show]celebrate her birthday ALONE instead of getting guilt tripped at the last minute and taking pity on her.

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So I was scrounging around Hulu for some new comedies to watch, and came across this one. I'm wary of shows that are just named after one of their actors - I neve rknow what the show is all about, it makes me wary. I gave it a try and am surprised how much I'm enjoying it. it's refreshing to go back to an era where all the jokes are not double entendres about sex, people aren't just sleeping around non stop, and the women are actually dressed  in a refined and beautiful way. I was born in the mid 70s so it's kind of eerie for me to watch a show that was filmed before I was born; to see what the world was like in those days. A simpler, safer place, but also a place of less tolerance and less political correctness. so some things make me cringe, esp the way women in the workplace were treated, etc., but the whole era seems to be a sweet, innocent time. The most jarring? To see cloris leachman as a young woman. My first Cloris Leachman sighting was Raising Hope, so it's startling to see that she was once in her prime, a beautiful and popular actress!!! Looking forward to seeing Betty White eventually... my first Betty White exposure was hot in Cleveland.. I'm moving backwards in time...

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Looking forward to seeing Betty White eventually

 

Well that will definitely be the end of this for you then

all the jokes are not double entendres about sex, people aren't just sleeping around non stop

 

No, that's not really true. In all seriousness,  Betty White was a wonderful addition to the series which sometimes got a tad treacly. She made such a strong impression that it is surprising how few episodes she is in.

Big Mother, do try to catch the episode where we meet Sue Anne's sister and see more of the interior of her home. It is early in the seventh season.

To see cloris leachman as a young woman

 

With respect, not all that young - Ms Leachman was 44 in the first season of the series ;)

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Among other things in "The Lars Affair", I liked it when Phyllis tried to brag up re her  former intimate life with Lars, both Mary and Rhoda begged her NOT to [too bad the term TMI hadn't been invented]. Can anyone imagine a sitcom nowadays in which a regular wouldn't try to egg on someone to forever humiliate themselves re how much they disclosed re their intimate life with their spouse? Oh, and though the show didn't hit the viewers over the head with this, both Mary and Rhoda   had active sex lives re their dates so it wasn't as though they were ignorant of the workings.

Edited by Blergh · Reason: misspelling
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Testing the waters here:

The first season of Lou Grant just appeared on DVD, with season 2 due in August. I think it was a terrific series and would love to talk about it. I was thinking of requesting a forum for it at PTV. But would I be the only one? Is anyone else here a fan of that drama, maybe even also buying the DVDs? This seemed the likeliest place to ask.

Edited by Rinaldo

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I loved Lou Grant at the time, but then I was working at a failing newspaper, so it really resonated with me.
I wouldn't be buying the DVDs though, so I'm no help.

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As I mentioned I'm watching this show for the first time. I didnt realize that only the first 3 seasons are up on Hulu, darn. I really wanted to see Betty White. Anyway, I'm only up to about episode 4, which is about the DIvorced People's club. The mind is boggled. I'm having difficulty wrapping my brain around the mindset of that era. All divorced people were branded as losers? Rhoda and Mary were considered pariahs bc they were never yet married? So confusing. but funny.

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This is as good a place to post this. When MTM wrote her autobio, she said that not only did folks constantly come up to her and tell her they wished their lives were as 'perfect' as Mary Richards's was but she   wished that.

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I was too young to watch the show back in the 70's, so now I have it DVR'd and watch a few episodes a week. I think it's turning into one of my favorite shows from the 1970's. Ted is a hoot, and Mary and Rhoda together as best friends really bring it home to me.

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I've been watching on Sundance on Thursday mornings. I do love her wardrobe. MTM has such a great figure, and wears it all so well. Of course much/some is dated, but she always looks so well done.

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RIP Mary Richards! You did turn the world on with a smile. I also like Spunk! Mary Richards & Laura Petrie were simply the best!!!!

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Really amazing how tv infiltrates a persons psyche. I watched MTM Show as a teen when it actually aired and it was must see tv. I really feel a loss with her passing. What a very fine and excellent show and it really is timeless. Think of the shows everybody knows and the lines that can be quoted from I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, Odd Couple and The Honeymooners. 

The MTM Show was in that class. The "spunk" line, all the Chuckles The Clown jokes. Sue Ann's "Dear, sweet bald Murray...", Ted's "Anna Maria Alberghett-ing in a taxi". The list goes on.

A difficult life which should put show biz fame/lifestyles in perspective, she did make it after all. Rest in peace Laura Petrie, Mary Richards and especially Mry Tyler Moore. 

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I share the sense of loss, but also the gladness at how she enriched my life, in two of the best, most intelligent sitcoms ever.

@Inquisitionist, I found the NY Times article, but your link seems to return me to this page. Their various tributes make good reading, in any case; thanks for the information.

Edited by Rinaldo
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9 hours ago, Rinaldo said:

@Inquisitionist, I found the NY Times article, but your link seems to return me to this page. Their various tributes make good reading, in any case; thanks for the information.

 

Thanks for the alert.  Don't know what happened on the first go-round, but I have fixed it.  I think this was my favorite piece of MTM coverage yesterday.

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And, Mary Richard's house is still for sale with a reduced price. I'm suprised that it hasn't sold yet. It's been on the market for a while. I guess people don't want all of the fans and curiosity seekers showing up on their doorstep. If I had an extra million laying around I would snatch that up in a second. Of course, I would paint it back to it's oringal white and put up a black chain link fence. It would be in honor of Mary Richards and her fans:

 

http://www.berglarsengroup.com/listing/4163208-2104-kenwood-pkwy-kenwood-in-minneapolis-55405/

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Extraordinary doesn't even begin to describe Mary Tyler Moore nor her impact, onscreen and off. As great as she was on The Dick Van Dyke Show, she was even better on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Like millions of others, I watched/loved her on both shows, whether she was on a pile of walnuts in The Dick Van Dyke Show or debating Lou Grant on equal pay on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Of course, there's always Chuckles the Clown. 

 MTM also showed her dramatic chops in her Oscar-nominated role in Ordinary People, in which she not only played against type, she gave one of her best performances ever.

RIP, Mary. May you turn Heaven on with your smile.

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True 'fession: When the show came on when I was a tiny child, I used to be mesmerized by the opening when the words of her name came on screen, then multiplied into many colors before zooming into the  center 'white MTM'   title to start The Theme and her driving her white car on the Interstate then walking& smiling in Minneaopolis's snowy streets. Anyway, at that time, I used to wonder if in any of those  upper or lower' colored MTM' titles, other stuff might be going on that we the audience might not be knowing about and used to wish that just ONCE we could find out what life for Mary was like via one of the 'colored MTM' titles instead of the 'white MTM' one.

 

 Now, I wish we could ALL travel through one the 'colored MTM' titles to a world where she is still young and relatively healthy AND where few if any of our current woes exist.

Edited by Blergh · Reason: Interstate mention
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