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Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore

Category: Sitcom

Created By: James L. Brooks & Allan Burns

Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Georgia Engel

Opening Theme: "Love Is All Around" by Sonny Curtis

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 168

Original Channel: CBS

Original Run: September 19, 1970 to March 19, 1977

The show is an American television sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from September 19, 1970 to March 19, 1977. It was a breakthrough in television, the first time that a central character on a show was an independent career woman: "As Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, Moore presented a character different from other single TV women of the time. She was not widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her."

It was also "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history.[1] Over a seven year period, it received high praise from critics and Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975, 1976, and 1977). The show continued to be honored long after the final episode aired. In 2003, USA Today called it "one of the best shows ever to air on TV". In 1997, TV Guide selected a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode as the best ever[3], and, in 1999, Entertainment Weekly picked Mary's hat toss in the opening credits as television's 2nd greatest moment.

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore


Mary Richards (Moore) is a single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis, Minnesota after breaking off a relationship with her boyfriend of two years. She applies for a secretarial job at TV station WJM-TV, only to find it has already been filled. To her surprise, she is offered the position of associate producer for the Six O'Clock News (which pays $10 a week less than the job she originally sought).

At work, she befriends her tough boss (with a soft side) Lou Grant (played by Edward Asner), sympathetic, long-suffering newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Mary's other acquaintances and friends include upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), a self-deprecating, ex-New Yorker who becomes her best friend, their self-involved landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) and her precocious daughter Bess (Lisa Gerritsen). Characters introduced later are the acerbic, man-hungry host of WJM's cooking program, The Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), and sweet-natured, soft-spoken Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), Ted Baxter's girlfriend and then wife.


Mary Tyler Moore


Main cast, from the final season of the series (pictured left to right): (back) Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight; (front) Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Georgia Engel.

Main Characters

Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) When Moore was first approached about the show, she "was unsure and unwilling to commit, fearing any new role might suffer in comparison with her Laura character in The Dick Van Dyke Show, already cemented as one of the most popular parts in US TV history." It was originally planned for Mary to be a divorcée, but because the network was afraid viewers might think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, her character's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, the premise was changed to that of simply a broken engagement.

Lou Grant (Edward Asner) Following the end of the series, Asner continued to play the same character in the long-running dramatic series Lou Grant. This is one of the few times in TV history that a situation comedy spun off a dramatic series.

In 2005, Asner reprised his character, though never identified as Lou Grant, in commercials for Minneapolis/St. Paul ABC affiliate KSTP's "Eyewitness News."

Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), the head copy writer, who saves his quips for Ted Baxter's mangling of his news reports, and Sue Ann Nivens' aggressive, man-hungry attitude.

Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), the vain, pompous, dim-witted news anchor.

Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) (1970 - 74), Mary's best friend and upstairs neighbor. Harper eventually got her own spinoff series, Rhoda.

Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) (1970 - 75), Mary's snobbish landlady; wife (and later widow) of Dr. Lars Lindstrom and mother of Bess. She also starred in her own (short-lived) spinoff series, Phyllis.

Georgette Franklin Baxter (Georgia Engel) (1972 - 77), Ted's sweet-natured girlfriend and eventual wife.

Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) (1973 - 77), host of The Happy Homemaker show. Her superficially ever-cheerful demeanor belies her true, man-chasing nature. She is particularly attracted to Lou Grant (who in no way returns her interest). 

Mary Tyler Moore

Recurring Characters

Gordy Howard (John Amos) (1970 - 73), The station's weather forecaster.

Bess Lindstrom (Lisa Gerritsen) (1970 - 75), Phyllis' precocious daughter.

Ida Morgenstern (Nancy Walker) (1970 - 73), Rhoda's meddling, domineering mother

Martin Morgenstern (Harold Gould) (1972 - 73), Rhoda's father

Marie Slaughter (Joyce Bulifant) (1971 - 77), Murray's wife

Dottie Richards (Nanette Fabray) (1972), Mary's mother

Walter Richards (Bill Quinn) (1972), Mary's father

Edie Grant (Priscilla Morrill) (1973 - 75), Lou's wife. They eventually get divorced.

Andy Rivers (John Gabriel) (1973 - 75), The station's sports reporter, and occasional romantic interest of Mary's.

Flo Meredith (Eileen Heckart) (1975 - 76), Mary's famous journalist aunt. She and Lou are attracted to each other, but they are not willing to compromise their separate careers to build a serious relationship.

David Baxter (Robbie Rist) (1976 - 77), the Baxters' adopted son

Mary Tyler Moore

Awards and Honors



Edward Asner, Outstanding Performance by Supporting Actor/Comedy Valerie Harper, Outstanding Performance by Supporting Actress/Comedy

James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, Outstanding Writing Achievement/Comedy, for episode "Support Your Local Mother"

Jay Sandrich, Outstanding Directorial Achievement/Comedy, for episode "Toulouse Lautrec is One of My Favorite Artists"


Edward Asner, Outstanding Performance by Supporting Actor/Comedy

Valerie Harper, Outstanding Performance by Supporting Actress/Comedy


Mary Tyler Moore, Outstanding Continued Performance by Leading Actress/comedy

Ted Knight, Outstanding Continued Performance by Supporting Actor/comedy

Valerie Harper, Outstanding Continued Performance by Supporting Actress/comedy

Jay Sandrich, Outstanding Directorial Achievement/Comedy, for episode "It's Whether You Win or Lose"


Mary Tyler Moore, Actress of the Year/Series

Mary Tyler Moore, Best Lead Actress/comedy

Cloris Leachman, Best Supporting Actress/comedy, Single Performance for episode "The Lars Affair"

Treva Silverman, Best Comedy Writing in a Single Program of a Series with Continuing Characters and/or Theme, for episode "The Lou and Edie Story"

Treva Silverman, Writer of the Year/TV Series


James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, Stan Daniels, Ed Weinberger, Outstanding Comedy Series

Edward Asner, Outstanding Continuing Performance by Supporting Actor/comedy

Betty White, Outstanding Continuing Performance by Supporting Actress/comedy

Cloris Leachman, Best Supporting Actress/comedy, Single Performance for episode "Phyllis Whips Inflation" (award shared with Zohra Lampert, Kojak)

Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels, Outstanding Writing/Comedy for a Single Episode of Regular or Limited Series with Continuing Characters and/or Theme, for episode "Will Mary Richards Go to Jail?"

Douglas Hines, Outstanding Film Editing for Entertainment Programming


James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, Stan Daniels, Ed Weinberger, Outstanding Comedy Series

Mary Tyler Moore, Outstanding Lead Actress/Comedy

Ted Knight, Outstanding Continuing Performance by Supporting Actor/Comedy

Betty White, Outstanding Continuing Performance by Supporting Actress/Comedy

David Lloyd, Outstanding Writing in Comedy Series for Single Episode of Regular/Limited Series with Continuing Characters/Theme, for episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"


James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, Stan Daniels, Ed Weinberger, Outstanding Comedy Series

Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison, for episode "The Last Show"

Douglas Hines, Outstanding Film Editing/Comedy Series, for episode "Murray Can't Lose"

Golden Globe Awards

1971: Mary Tyler Moore, Best Actress/Comedy

1972: Edward Asner, Best Supporting Actor/Comedy

1976: Edward Asner, Best Supporting Actor/Comedy (tied with Tim Conway for The Carol Burnett Show)


In 1997, TV Guide ranked "Chuckles Bites The Dust" 1st on their list of The Greatest Episodes of All Time. "The Lars Affair" made the list at 27th.

In 1999, TV Guide's List of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time ranked Mary Richards 21st and Ted Baxter 29th. Only three other shows placed two characters on the list (Taxi, The Honeymooners and Seinfeld).

Mary Tyler Moore

In 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked the opening credits image of Mary tossing her hat into the air as #2 on their list of The 100 Greatest Moments In Television.

In 2002, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was 11th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

In 2007, Time magazine placed the Mary Tyler Moore Show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".

Bravo ranked Mary Richards 8th, Lou Grant 35th, Ted Baxter 48th, and Rhoda Morgenstern 57th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.

Entertainment Weekly placed "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" 1st in its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of all Time.[11]

Mary Tyler Moore

Memorable Episodes

"Love Is All Around" (September 19, 1970) - In the premiere episode, thirty-year-old Mary Richards moves to Minneapolis after rebounding from a broken romance. She finds an apartment in the same large house as her old friend Phyllis Lindstrom and becomes friends with her upstairs neighbor, native New Yorker Rhoda Morgenstern. She applies for a secretarial position at WJM-TV, but gets a job as associate producer for The Six O'Clock News instead (for less pay).

"Support Your Local Mother" (October 24, 1970) - Mary finds herself caught between Rhoda and her mother, when Mrs. Morgenstern, a member of the keep-them-feeling-guilty school of child rearing, comes to Minneapolis for a visit and Rhoda refuses to see her.

"Rhoda the Beautiful" (October 21, 1972) - After dropping twenty pounds, Rhoda reluctantly enters a beauty pageant at work. Though she looks great (even Phyllis compliments her), she still can't get used to thinking of herself as beautiful. The episode won Valerie Harper her third Best Supporting Actress Emmy.

"My Brother's Keeper" (January 13, 1973) - Phyllis wants to set up her visiting brother with Mary, but instead he hits it off with Rhoda and begins spending time with her, to Phyllis's dismay. Rhoda informs Phyllis that he is gay. Though surprised, Phyllis could not care less that her brother is gay, and is simply relieved that there are are no romantic feelings between him and Rhoda.

"The Lars Affair" (September 15, 1973) - Phyllis makes a desperate bid to win back her husband Lars when she finds out that he's having an affair with Sue Ann Nivens. Sue Ann was introduced in this episode. This episode was ranked #27 on TV Guide's The Greatest Episodes of All Time.

The famed "group hug" in the final episode.

"Chuckles Bites the Dust" (October 25, 1975) - The ludicrous death of WJM's Chuckles the Clown, crushed by an elephant while dressed as Peter Peanut, provokes a torrent of black humor which has everyone in the newsroom but Mary convulsed in laughter. Mary's suppressed laughter comes out at an inopportune moment: at Chuckles' funeral. This episode was ranked #1 on TV Guide's The Greatest Episodes of All Time.

"The Seminar" (January 10, 1976) Mary accompanies Lou to a convention in Washington, DC, where Lou attempts to impress Mary with all the connections that he still has there from his newsapaper days. When none of them pan out, Mary begins to feel sorry for Lou, until he receives a call from First Lady Betty Ford (who appears as herself).

"The Last Show" (March 19, 1977) The new owner of WJM re-evaluates the news operation and, unable to determine the reason for the low ratings, arbitrarily fires everyone in the newsroom except for the supremely incompetent Ted. The curtain call of this episode shows Mary Tyler Moore introducing the other seven regular cast members to the audience as "the best cast ever."

Opening Title Sequence

Opening sequence of Mary tossing her hat in the air

The opening title sequence begins with the title of the series repeated vertically across the screen, followed by a montage of brief shots of Mary, mostly engaging in everyday activities around the city, as the theme song plays. In the final shot, she cheerfully tosses her tam o'shanter in the air in the middle of the street; a freeze frame shot captures her smiling face and the hat in mid-air.

The sequence was created by Reza Badiyi who also did the one for Hawaii Five-O. Badiyi came up with the idea for the final shot, which Entertainment Weekly ranked as the second greatest moment in television.[4] An older woman can be seen in the background, obviously puzzled by the sight of a young woman tossing her hat in the air. This unwitting "extra" was Hazel Frederick, a lifelong Minnesota resident who happened to be out shopping the day the sequence was shot.[12]

From 1973 to the series' conclusion, Mary is shown washing her car while wearing the #10 home jersey of Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton and the Vikings had played in three Super Bowls around this time, the last in the 1976 season.



Some of the scenes show Mary Tyler Moore interacting with crew members. In one, the camera pans over a shot of Mary Richards eating at a restaurant with an older man, the actress' then-husband, Grant Tinker, who served as president of MTM Enterprises until 1981. Another scene shows Mary walking in the park, where she is passed by two joggers: creator James L. Brooks and producer David Davis.

Scenes showing Mary driving toward Minneapolis in the first-season sequence were supposedly filmed on Interstate 494 (the Sheraton Bloomington, back then a Radisson, can be seen in the background) and what is now Hennepin County Road 122 (at its interchange with Cedar Ave).

Theme Song

The theme song, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis. The lyrics are words of encouragement directed to the character. The first season featured the first verse of the song, which refers to the ending of her relationship and making a fresh start, concluding "You might just make it after all". The more familiar second verse of the song was used in subsequent seasons, with the lyrics affirming her optimistic character, concluding "You're gonna make it after all". The song has been covered by artists such as Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Christie Front Drive, Sammy Davis Jr., and Hüsker Dü.


At the end of the opening sequence of the spin-off Rhoda, the title character flings her hat in the air, but the camera keeps running and it drops to the ground.

In The Simpsons episode "And Maggie Makes Three", while working at the bowling alley, Homer Simpson spins around singing, "I'm gonna make it after all!", and tosses a bowling ball in the air. It, of course, lands straight on the ground.

The winning musical selection that Peter Griffin plays at the piano competition in the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent" is the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme. Afterwards, a girl throws her hat in the air and freezes, while those around her look perplexed as to why she is not moving.

UK sketch show The All New Alexei Sayle Show parodies the opening credits in its opening sequence, with Alexei Sayle dancing through the streets of London to the theme song 'Life's a Big Banana Sandwich'.


The show became extremely popular in the Saturday night CBS sitcom lineup. Although it never ranked #1 overall for a season, it maintained high ratings throughout its seven year-run. Despite finishing relatively well in the final season, producers argued for its cancellation due to falling ratings, afraid that the show's legacy might be damaged if it were renewed for another season. The series finished strong, and the series finale was arguably the most watched show during the week it aired. Listed below are its annual rankings among all television shows:

1970-1971: #22 1971-1972: #10 1972-1973: #7 1973-1974: #9 1974-1975: #11 1975-1976: #19 1976-1977: #39

Spin-offs and TV Specials

The show spun-off three television series: Lou Grant (1977-1982) Phyllis (1975-1977) Rhoda (1974-1978)

Two retrospective television specials:

The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion (2002) Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991) One made-for-TV reunion movie: Mary and Rhoda (2000)

Cultural References

On her 1995 debut album A Stranger to This Land singer-songwriter Barbara Kessler included a song entitled "Mary Tyler Moore", in which she sang about how she wished her life were more like that of Mary Richards.

The final scene of the series finale (the group hug, singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary") has been referenced many times in other series' closing episodes, such as Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Just Shoot Me!.

Impact on the Twin Cities From the opening scenes of every episode to the places and events portrayed in the show, Mary Tyler Moore and its setting in the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis-St. Paul are inextricably linked.

7th Street and Nicollet Mall

A bronze statue of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the air stands at the corner where it occurred. She was actually standing in the middle of the street and facing the other direction.

On May 8, 2002, cable TV network TV Land dedicated a statue to Mary Tyler Moore near the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. It captured her iconic toss and was placed near the spot where it occurred (the actual location was in the middle of the street). Although many in the press were skeptical of TV Land's motive at first, some claiming it was a marketing strategy, one Macalester professor stating that it was "like honoring a unicorn"[14] - crowds of onlookers at the unveiling exhibited hushed excitement rather than animosity.

Moore herself attended, the slender and somewhat frail-looking star braving the bone-chilling cold. It has become something of a tourist attraction for fans of the show, who sometimes throw their own hats in front of it. Moore released the cap when her hand was about at waist-level and her hand went high in the air only as a follow-through. The statue by necessity shows her hand high above her head as she is releasing (or possibly catching) the cap.

The Dayton's building in the background of some of those scenes (later a Marshall Field's and now a Macy's) has changed considerably in appearance. In fact, the exact spot where the cap toss occurred was debated extensively, because the layout along Nicollet has changed substantially since the early 1970s, largely as a result of the Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire in 1982 which destroyed the entire city block catercorner to the site.

Kenwood Parkway House

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly said that "TV's most famous bachelorette pad" was Mary's apartment within a house. For the first few seasons, Rhoda and Phyllis also lived in apartments within the same house, located at 119 N. Weatherly. This address is fictional, with "North Weatherly" being a comment on the city's climate. The exterior of a real house in Minneapolis (in the Kenwood neighborhood, at 2104 Kenwood Parkway) was filmed for regular establishing shots of Richards' house. In the real house, an unfinished attic occupied the space where Mary's apartment was supposedly located.

Once fans of the series discovered the place, the house became a popular tourist destination. According to Moore, the woman who lived in the house "was overwhelmed by the people showing up and asking if Mary was around".[17] To discourage crews from filming additional footage of the house, the owners placed an "Impeach Nixon" sign beneath the windows where Mary supposedly lived.[16] This was allegedly the motivation behind Mary Richards' move to the high rise (Riverside Plaza, then known as Cedar Square West), at the start of the 1975 season.

Despite this move, the Kenwood neighborhood house continued to attracted large numbers of tourists. More than a decade after the shows's production ended, the house was still drawing 30 tour buses a day in the summer.[17]

Other Locations

The establishing shots of Mary walking around a lake (be it in the summer or the winter) were filmed in the "Chain of Lakes" area west of downtown Minneapolis, most notably at the Lake of the Isles. Basil's Restaurant is the location where Mary dined with a man during the opening credits. In 2006, the manager of Basil's said that his customers still frequently request the table where Mary sat.

The establishing shots of Mary's workplace were actually of the First Bank Building at the corner of 5th Street South and Second Avenue South. While the building still stands, its interior has been completely re-designed and it is now known as One Financial Plaza.

Other Minneapolis sites were also featured on the show, especially in the opening credits, but the cast rarely spent time in the city, as filming was done in Hollywood.






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