Who can turn the world on with her smile?

“With her widower’s help, a splendid new documentary explores Mary Tyler Moore’s private side,” is an article from the Los Angeles Times by television critic Robert Lloyd. Here’s an excerpt:

“Who can turn the world on with her smile?” It’s Mary Tyler Moore, of course, and you should know it.

To be precise, it’s Mary Richards, a person Moore played. But the smile was her own, and it worked magic across two situation comedies that described their time in a way that some might have regarded as ahead of their time. Although Moore proved herself as an actress of depth and range and peerless comic timing again and again, on the small and big screen and onstage, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” made her a star, and incidentally a cultural figurehead, and are the reason we have a splendid new documentary, “Being Mary Tyler Moore,” premiering Friday on HBO. Were it titled simply “Being Mary,” there’d be little doubt who was meant.


My daughter called to tell me about a documentary I had to watch called “Being Mary Tyler Moore.” If you’re wondering why someone born at the tail end of the millennial generation would watch a documentary about Mary Tyler Moore, you have me to thank.

I loved the Mary Tyler Moore show with great characters like Lou Grant, Rhoda Morgenstern and Phyllis Lindstrom. My family watched the show religiously in the 1970s. Not only was it a ground-breaking show, it was one of the first sitcoms to employ women writers. The original writers (who were men) realized they had no clue what was in a woman’s purse, so they hired women writers to make the show authentic. Not only was the writing fabulous, the actors were, too.

I have faint memories when I was very young of Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dick show and Van Dyke tripping over their ottoman. That show propelled Mary Tyler Moore to become a full-fledged Emmy-award winning star.

When my kids were growing up, I believed they were missing great shows that were no longer on the air. I bought the entire Mary Tyler Moore, I Love Lucy and Seinfeld TV series on DVD. My daughter loved them. One of the things she like best about Mary Tyler Moore was the fashions.

I took my daughter’s advice and watched the documentary over the weekend. I found out many details about Mary’s life and how she changed how women were presented on TV forever.

Do you remember Mary Tyler Moore in the 1960s and 70s? What shows were your favorites when you were growing up?

35 thoughts on “Who can turn the world on with her smile?

  1. Oh, Oh, Oh! Another kindred spirit moment for us, Elizabeth! I believe MTM was a powerful female role model I adored that show…for all the empowerment for girls, especially those of us who like to write. I saw a preview of the documentary and can’t wait to watch it. Mary Richards was an exemplar…a bright light. And yes…the fashions, her apartment in the old Victorian, the decor. I was smitten and influenced — big time. Thank you so much for the Monday morning smile! 🥰

  2. MTM was an inspiration to me. I remember her show from the 70s and how she lived in an apartment by herself, no roommates. When I got my first apartment on my own I went out and bought a big wooden letter ‘A’ because Mary had a big letter ‘M’ in her apartment.

  3. She was a definite part of my growing up years. I can still see the mid-century modern home in my head from her time as Laura Petrie. And the infamous hat toss 🙂
    Do you remember That Girl, with Marlo Thomas? Another of the shows from that time depicting the new trend of “independent women”.

  4. I love that you bought the DVD’s for your kids to watch! And I didn’t know Mary Tyler Moore was one of the first shows to employ women writers. It wasn’t a show from my childhood but you’ve made me want to watch it. Thanks, Elizabeth!

  5. Recently listened to a podcast about her life. It was quite interesting. The podcast is called Famous and Gravy and they discuss famous people who have died, look at their life and decide if they would have wanted to live it.

  6. Oh yes, we watched her show and That Girl, too. I enjoyed silly stuff like Gilligan’s Island, The Flintstones, and the Brady Bunch. Later loved the mystery series that included Columbo, McMillan and Wife, and two others. Anything with Bill Bixby or Robert Wagner. The Hardy Boys (I was much more focused on good looking guys than female role models! Besides I wanted to do the stuff I saw the men doing.)

  7. Yes Mary Tyler Show was great! I agree about their being so many wonderful old shows. We had our kids watching Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy and Beverly Hillbillies, and of course Little House on the Prairie was a big one!

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