• Scott Bryant

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Updated: Oct 18

It was in the summer of 1996 that my 11-year-old self stumbled upon The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Nick at Nite (basically an after-hours TV bloc for adults on the Nickelodeon channel). It was there I was instantly charmed by the elegant, trailblazing comedic icon that was Mary Tyler Moore. And for 20 years after that fateful night, I always made sure to catch reruns of her show until today in 2017 when I learned the news Mary Tyler Moore had passed away just this week. Instead of mourning over an actor I never met (but wish I had) like most people seem to do, I decided to celebrate her through this blog post.

Growing up in the 1990s when Nickelodeon, MTV music videos, and The Disney Channel were the preferred choices for kids my age, I occasionally sought out more mature comedic shows out of sheer curiosity. When it came to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, there was something delightful and inspiring watching the character of Mary Richards forging her path at a Minneapolis, Minnesota news station and not letting life or others define her.

Though the romantic subplots weren't my favorites in most of the episodes, the ultimate highlight of the show was the hilarious chemistry between Mary, her WJM co-workers, and friends Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman). Two of my most favorite episodes I remember the most - and found to be the most hilarious ever - were "Chuckles Bites the Dust" and "The Lars Affair." "Chuckles Bites the Dust" had me rolling on the floor at the goofiness of Mary and the crew trying to cope with TV clown Chuckles the Clown's passing at the hands (or feet) of a circus elephant. "The Lars Affair" centered around Phyllis Lindstrom having growing suspicions her partner Lars was having a secret affair with WJM's Sue Ann Nivens, "the Happy Homemaker" (Betty White). Watching four legendary comedic women - Moore, Harper, Leachman, and White - in "The Lars Affair" episode was incredibly fun, and still is today whenever I rewatch that episode for a humor boost.

Though The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on TV in 1970 (14 years before I came into the world), I admired Mary Tyler Moore both as an actor and a person. Not only did she give us the most inspiring, trailblazing characters in television history, she also inspired both women and men that they can chart their path and embrace who they are in life, regardless of what critics say. I was one of those fans who was inspired by her. She did make it after all - and made me a lifelong fan for 20+ years in the process.

© 2020 Scott Bryant