The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Mary Tyler Moore Show title card.jpg
Title card with Peignot typeface
Genre Sitcom
Created by James L. Brooks
Allan Burns
Starring Mary Tyler Moore
Edward Asner
Gavin MacLeod
Ted Knight
Valerie Harper
Cloris Leachman
Georgia Engel
Betty White
Theme music composer Sonny Curtis
Opening theme"Love Is All Around", written and performed by Sonny Curtis
Composer Patrick Williams
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes168 (list of episodes)
Executive producersJames L. Brooks
Allan Burns
ProducersDavid Davis
Lorenzo Music
Ed Weinberger
Stan Daniels
Running time25–26 minutes
Production company MTM Enterprises
Distributor 20th Television
Original network CBS
Picture format Color
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 19, 1970 (1970-09-19) 
March 19, 1977 (1977-03-19)
Related shows Rhoda (1974–1978)
Phyllis (1975–1977)
Lou Grant (1977–1982)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (also known simply as Mary Tyler Moore) is an American television sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns and starring actress and namesake Mary Tyler Moore. The show originally aired on CBS from September 19, 1970, to March 19, 1977. Moore starred as Mary Richards, an unmarried, independent woman focused on her career as associate producer of the fictional WJM news program in Minneapolis. A central female character who was neither married nor dependent on a man was a rarity on American television in the 1970s, leading to numerous publications citing The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a groundbreaking series in the era of second-wave feminism. [1] Ed Asner co-starred as Mary's boss Lou Grant, alongside Valerie Harper as friend and neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern and Cloris Leachman as landlady Phyllis Lindstrom. Other co-stars throughout the series' run included Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, and Betty White.


The Mary Tyler Moore Show is remembered for its complex, realistic characters and storylines, in contrast to the simplistic plots and characterizations typically seen on broadcast television at that time. [1] It was the recipient of consistent critical praise and high ratings during its original run, earning twenty-nine Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–1977); Moore received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series three times. The series also launched three spin-offs: Rhoda , Phyllis , and Lou Grant . In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show No. 6 on its list of the "101 Best Written TV Series of All Time". [2]

Summary and setting

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRank [3] Rating [3]
First airedLast aired
1 24September 19, 1970 (1970-09-19)March 6, 1971 (1971-03-06)2220.3
2 24September 18, 1971 (1971-09-18)March 4, 1972 (1972-03-04)1023.7
3 24September 16, 1972 (1972-09-16)March 3, 1973 (1973-03-03)723.6
4 24September 15, 1973 (1973-09-15)March 2, 1974 (1974-03-02)923.1
5 24September 14, 1974 (1974-09-14)March 8, 1975 (1975-03-08)1124.0
6 24September 13, 1975 (1975-09-13)March 6, 1976 (1976-03-06)1921.9
7 24September 25, 1976 (1976-09-25)March 19, 1977 (1977-03-19)3919.2

Mary Richards (Moore) is a single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis on the heels of a broken engagement. She applies for a secretarial job at fictional television station WJM, but the position is already taken. She is instead offered the post of associate producer of the station's six o'clock news. She befriends tough but lovable boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner), newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Mary is later promoted to producer of the show, though her duties remain the same.

Mary rents a third-floor studio apartment in a 19th-century house from acquaintance and downstairs landlady Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman); Mary and upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) become best friends. Characters introduced later in the series include the acerbic, man-hungry hostess of WJM's Happy Homemaker show, Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), and ditzy but sweet-natured Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), as Ted Baxter's girlfriend (and eventual wife). At the beginning of season 6, after both Rhoda and Phyllis have moved away (providing a premise for two spinoffs), Mary relocates to a one-bedroom apartment in a high-rise building; Minneapolis's Riverside Plaza was used for establishing shots.

In the third season, issues such as equal pay for women, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality are woven into the show's comedic plots. In season four, marital infidelity and divorce are explored with Phyllis and Lou, respectively. In the fifth season, Mary refuses to reveal a news source and is jailed for contempt of court. While in jail, she befriends a prostitute (Barbara Colby) who seeks Mary's help in a subsequent episode. In the highly rated sixth-season episode "The Seminar", Betty Ford makes history by becoming the first First Lady to appear on a television sitcom in a cameo role. [4] The show's final seasons explore death in "Chuckles Bites the Dust" and juvenile offenders in "Mary's Delinquent"; Ted suffers a heart attack; Ted and Georgette contend with intimate marital problems, deal with infertility, and adopt a child; and Mary overcomes an addiction to sleeping pills. Mary dates many men on and off over the years, is engaged twice, but remains single throughout the series.

Running joke

One of Mary Tyler Moore's running gags is Mary Richards' inability to throw a successful, problem-free party. Various disasters throughout the seasons include the break-up of two of Mary's closest friends; an insufficient amount of food due to unexpected guests; a power failure while attendees await the arrival of a high-profile guest of honor (Johnny Carson); and the birth of Ted and Georgette's baby.

Kenwood Parkway house

The house on Kenwood Parkway Mary Tyler Moore House 2.jpg
The house on Kenwood Parkway

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly said that "TV's most famous bachelorette pad" was Mary's apartment. [5] The fictitious address was 119 North Weatherly, but the exterior establishing shots were of a real house in Minneapolis at 2104 Kenwood Parkway. In the real house, an unfinished attic occupied the space behind the window recreated on the interior studio set of Mary's apartment. In January 2017, the house was marketed for a price of $1.7 million. [6]

Once fans of the series discovered where exterior shots had been taken, the house became a popular tourist destination. According to Moore, the woman who lived in the house was "overwhelmed" by people showing up and "asking if Mary was around". [7] To discourage crews from filming additional footage of the house, the owners placed an "Impeach Nixon" sign beneath the window where Mary supposedly lived. [6] The house continued to attract multiple tour buses a day more than a decade after production ended. [7]



Final episode, 1977 Mary Tyler Moore Show cast last show 1977.JPG
Final episode, 1977

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 Petrie character in The Dick Van Dyke Show, which also aired on CBS, and was already cemented as one of the most popular parts in TV history". [10] Moore's character was initially intended to be a divorcée, but divorce was still controversial at the time. In addition, CBS was afraid viewers might think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, Laura's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, so the premise was changed to that of a single woman with a recently broken engagement. [11] Notably, Van Dyke never guest starred in any episode, although his brother Jerry Van Dyke guest-starred in a couple of episodes during the third and fourth seasons. (Jerry had also regularly appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show.)

According to co-creator Allan Burns, Minnesota was selected for the show's location after "one of the writers began talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings". A television newsroom was chosen for the show's workplace because of the supporting characters often found there, stated co-creator James Brooks. [12]

Title sequences

The opening title sequence features many scenes filmed on location in Minneapolis in both summer and winter, as well as a few clips from the show's studio scenes. The sequence changed each season, but always ended with Mary tossing her hat into the air in front of what was then the flagship Donaldson's department store at the intersection of South 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The hat toss was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the second greatest moment in television. [13] On May 8, 2002, Moore was in attendance when basic cable network TV Land dedicated a statue to her that captured her iconic throw. In 2010, TV Guide ranked the show's opening title sequence No. 3 on a list of TV's Top Ten credit sequences, as selected by readers. [14] In 2017, James Charisma of Paste ranked the show's opening sequence No. 15 on a list of The 75 Best TV Title Sequences of All Time. [15]

Sonny Curtis wrote and performed the opening theme song, "Love Is All Around". The lyrics changed between the first and second seasons, in part to reflect Mary Richards having become settled in her new home. The later lyrics, which accompanied many more episodes at a time when the show's popularity was at a peak, are more widely known, and most covers of the song use these words. For season 7, there was a slightly new musical arrangement for the opening theme, but the lyrics remained the same as seasons 2–6.

No supporting cast members are credited during the show's opening (though from the second season on, shots of them appear). The ending sequences show snippets of the cast, as well as any major guest stars in that episode, with the respective actors' names at the bottom of the screen. Other on-location scenes are also shown during the closing credits, including a rear shot of Mary holding hands with her date, played by Moore's then-husband, Grant Tinker, and Moore and Valerie Harper feeding ducks on the bank of a pond in a Minneapolis park (this shot remained in the credits, even after Harper left the show). The ending sequence music is an instrumental version of "Love is All Around". The ending finishes with Mimsie the cat meowing within the MTM company logo.

Response and impact

Impact on television

In 2007 Time put The Mary Tyler Moore Show on its list of "17 Shows That Changed TV". Time stated that the series "liberated TV for adults—of both sexes" by being "a sophisticated show about grownups among other grownups, having grownup conversations". [16] The Associated Press said that the show "took 20 years of pointless, insipid situation comedy and spun it on its heels. [It did this by] pioneer[ing] reality comedy and the establishment of clearly defined and motivated secondary characters." [17]

Tina Fey, creator and lead actress of the 2006-debut sitcom 30 Rock , explained that Moore's show helped inspire 30 Rock's emphasis on office relationships. "Our goal is to try to be like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where it's not about doing the news", said Fey. [18] Entertainment Weekly also noted that the main characters of 30 Rock mirror those of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. [19]

When the writers of the sitcom Friends were about to create their series finale, they watched several other sitcom finales. [20] Co-creator Marta Kauffman said that the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the "gold standard" and that it influenced the finale of Friends. [21]

Spin-offs, specials and reunions

Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Mary Tyler Moore in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1977) Mary Tyler Moore Valerie Harper Cloris Leachman Last Mary Tyler Moore show 1977.JPG
Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Mary Tyler Moore in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1977)

The show spun off three television series, all of which aired on CBS: the sitcoms Rhoda (1974–78) and Phyllis (1975–77), and the one-hour drama Lou Grant (1977–82). In 2000, Moore and Harper reprised their roles in a two-hour ABC TV-movie, Mary and Rhoda .

Two retrospective specials were produced by CBS: Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991) and The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion (2002). On May 19, 2008, the surviving cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show reunited on The Oprah Winfrey Show to reminisce about the series. Winfrey, a longtime admirer of Moore and the show, had her staff recreate the sets of the WJM-TV newsroom and Mary's apartment (seasons 1–5) for the reunion.

In 2013, the women of The Mary Tyler Moore ShowCloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, and Georgia Engel – reunited on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland , which aired on September 4. Katie Couric interviewed the cast on Katie as they celebrated acting together for the first time in more than 30 years. It would be their final time on-screen together, as Mary Tyler Moore died in January 2017.

The show has remained popular since the final episode was broadcast in 1977. Several songs, films and other television programs, including The Simpsons , reference or parody characters and events from the show, including the memorable "can turn the world on with her smile" line from the title song. Parodies were done on shows such as Saturday Night Live , MadTV , and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which was produced in Minneapolis). Musical artist Barbara Kessler and groups The Hold Steady and Relient K have all referred to the show in their songs. The show has often been mentioned in film as well. In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy , the name of Burgundy's dog, Baxter, refers to the character Ted Baxter, and the head of the newsroom staff is named Ed, honoring Ed Asner. [22] In Romy & Michele's High School Reunion , the characters argue with each other while exclaiming "I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda." Frank DeCaro of The New York Times wrote that this was the highlight of the film. [23]

The show's Emmy-winning final episode has been alluded to many times in other series' closing episodes, such as the finale of St. Elsewhere (including the group shuffle to the tissue box), Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Just Shoot Me!

Broadcast history

United States

For most of its broadcasting run, the program was the lead-in for The Bob Newhart Show , which was also produced by MTM Enterprises. [24] [25]


The show did not do well initially in syndication, never being shown in more than 25 percent of the United States at a time, according to Robert S. Alley, the co-author of a book about the series. In the fall of 1992, Nick at Nite began broadcasting the series nightly, launching it with a week-long "Mary-thon", and it became the network's top-rated series. [26]

It is currently available on Hulu, and has been a longtime staple of Weigel Broadcasting's MeTV network dating back to its 2003 launch in Chicago, then 2011 nationwide. Currently, the show has since moved to Decades, another Weigel-owned network (although ViacomCBS owns some of the network).

United Kingdom

The series was broadcast on BBC1 from February 13, 1971 to December 29, 1972. [27] The BBC broadcast the first 34 episodes before the series was dropped. Beginning in 1975, a number of ITV companies picked up the series. Channel 4 repeated the first 39 episodes between January 30, 1984, and August 23, 1985. The full series was repeated on The Family Channel from 1993 to 1996.

Home media

On the season 7 DVD, the last episode's "final curtain call", broadcast only once on March 19, 1977 (March 18 in Canada), was included at the request of fans. [28] However, some of the season 7 sets did not include the curtain call; a replacement disc is reported to be available from the manufacturer. [29]

Awards and honors


In addition to numerous nominations, The Mary Tyler Moore Show won 29 Emmy Awards. This was a record unbroken until Frasier earned its 30th in 2002. [30]



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    Further reading