When a great Television icon like Mary Tyler Moore dies, we are all immediately reminded of the work they have left behind. Without any doubt, the Mary Tyler Moore show, most especially during the last 5 years of its seven-year run from 1970-1977, will be known as the greatest situation comedy of all time. The unique and once in a lifetime collaboration of great actors like Edward Asner, Ted Knight, Betty White, Gavin McCloud, Cloris Leachman and Valerie Harper will most likely never been seen again. Then add the great writers, like David Lloyd, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels who wrote such great and funny episodes and you have the ingredients of the best comedy show ever produced. I will never forget the day in March 1977 when this great show went off the air, it was a very depressing and I thought it ended way too soon. I am always reminded of the value of a great comedy show like the Mary Tyler Moore show when a tragedy like Mary’s passing today on January 25, 2017 happens. A great comedy show can lift your spirits temporarily for 30 minutes, and when your life is in a depressing and dark place like mine was in the 1970’s these 30 minutes can mean everything to you. To this day I can remember almost every funny line from all the episodes of this TV show. The great timing and rhythm that this unique comedy had set it apart from all others. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a standard of comedic perfection that can never be surpassed.
Mary Tyler Moore tried again with other TV shows after this show ended, but she was never able to set herself apart from her Mary Richard’s character. Years later she did go on to win a Tony Award on Broadway for “Whose Life is it Anyway” and was nominated for an Academy Award for “Ordinary People”, that was released in 1980, won for best picture that year and is one of the best movies I have ever seen. What is most extraordinary about “Ordinary People” is that every single one of the actors that appeared in this movie was not only outstanding and at the very peak of their movie careers, but none of them ever got even close to appearing in a movie or won a part that good ever again. This is most disappointing for Mary Tyler Moore, who was so good in this role as the mother of a suicidal son, that it has never made any sense to me, and most likely Mary that she was never able to get another role this good ever again. She proved to everyone in Ordinary People that she was not only a great comedic actor but a great dramatic actor as well and this is something very rare.
Mary’s passing today will be hard for everyone who loved the Mary Tyler Moore show to rationalize, but at least Mary is finally past her many years of suffering with Type 1 Diabetes. Mary also had a good deal of tragedy in her life, that included the accidental death of her only son by gunshot in 1980.
I will never forget Mary Tyler Moore, her great show and the 30 minutes of escape it gave me so many times during some very dark days in the 1970’s.