Mary and Rhoda - the humorous "Batman
& Robin" of 1970s era female empowerment
For reasons noble or otherwise, politicians have always been aware of the positive impact being seen hobnobbing with a popular star can have on their public perception. Both Steinam and Moore were also aware of this, and for the first time the Mary Richards persona would be used as a political force. Gavin MacLeod (wise cracking Murray Slaughter) was stunned at what it all meant, saying: “I realized when Gloria Steinam came up and said ’Oh, what you’re doing for us’ and so forth, … (that) we all started to think ’Gee whiz! This isn’t just another situation comedy show”.
Regardless of the impact the show was having however, and in spite of the crown bestowed upon Moore herself as an ideal of the women’s movement, in real life she was experiencing (much like her on screen alter-ego) more than a little insecurity and confusion. As THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW grew in popularity, so did MTM ENTERPRISES in stature, now producing the popular THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, as well as successful MARY TYLER MOORE spin-off series RHODA and PHYLLIS.
The 11 ½ year marriage of Moore and Grant Tinker, both like-minded workaholics, had dissolved in the process. And Moore, not unlike her TV character, now faced for the first time the prospect of truly making it on her own. Adding to it all, around this same time her son Richie from her first marriage, returned home with a drug habit. She and Tinker (divorced but still friends and business partners) helped young Richie kick his addiction.
MTM's THE BOB NEWHART SHOW (CBS, 1972 - '78)
When THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW ended it’s seven year run with the episode “The Last Show” (3/19/77 - a new WJM-TV owner surprisingly fires everyone but buffoonish Ted Baxter) it had accumulated an unprecedented 29 Emmy Awards - a record it would hold until FRAISER hit the "30" statue mark 25 years later.
Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper would reunite for a 2000 TV movie MARY AND RHODA, and a handful of reunion retrospective specials would air over the years, the most impressive being a May 2008 broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show, where Winfrey, a long time admirer of Moore’s empowering TV legacy, had the show’s WJM-TV newsroom and Mary Richards’ apartment recreated on her talk show stage. Gone their separate ways personally, Moore and Tinker would continue to break new ground independently.
MTM's HILL ST. BLUES (NBC, 1981 - '87) and ST. ELSEWHERE (NBC, 1982 - '88)
Moore appeared in several Broadway plays throughout the 1980s, the most successful being WHO’S LIFE IS IT ANYWAY with James Naughton and SWEET SUE. In 1980 she’d break the “girl next door” character mold to play the emotionally distant mother in Robert Redford’s ORDINARY PEOPLE, and she’d receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal. After being diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1 (and nearly losing her sight and a limb to it) she became the Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, helping to raise awareness of the disease as well as finances to fund combative research. She continues with the organization today. In 1995 she’d pen the autobiography “After All” - acknowledging that she was a recovering alcoholic; then in 2009 the follow up book “Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes”.
Moore as International Chairman -
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
This was the same time in which Tinker would become “The Man Who Saved NBC”, having taken over the Chairmanship of the last place network in 1981, then within four years taking it to #1 with shows like THE A-TEAM, CHEERS, THE COSBY SHOW, MIAMI VICE, REMINGTON STEELE, KNIGHT RIDER, FAMILY TIES andTHE GOLDEN GIRLS as well as MTM’s own LOU GRANT and HILL STREET BLUES. As with THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, Tinker would stand behind his choices even when some of the shows failed to catch on initially with audiences and/or critics.
From 1969 - 1990 MTM ENTERPRISES was run by Moore and Tinker. In 1990 they sold the company (along with it’s catalog of programs including THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, RHODA, PHYLLIS, LOU GRANT, THE WHITE SHADOW, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, WKRP IN CINCINATTI, HILL STREET BLUES and ST. ELSEWHERE) to British broadcast company TVS ENTERTAINMENT. In 1992 TVS (along with the MTM catalog) was acquired by televangelist Pat Robertson’s INTERNATIONAL FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT empire. Robertson’s IFC (no relation to the Independent Film Channel) was acquired by media mogul Rubert Murdoch’s NEWS CORPORATION in 1996. Then in 1998 MTM was folded into Murdoch’s 20TH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION where it remains as of Sept. 2011.
Moore reminisces onstage - 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast (Sept. 21, 2008)
While the MTM catalog has become a multi-million dollar franchise juggernaut, Moore & Tinker and Brooks & Burns' cornerstone which launched it all, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, to this day remains their most lasting and influential endeavor. Every few years a new generation discovers it's charms, it's message, it's magic, ... and of course it's humor; then pays tribute to it in it's own way. In 2008 the aforementioned Oprah Winfrey special aired, and the Primetime Emmy Awards honored the show with a special evening retrospective.
In the 1997 comedy ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, the two main characters portrayed by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, argue over which of them is Mary and which is Rhoda. In May 2002 a statue recreating the show's iconic opening credit freeze-frame image (with Moore tossing her hat into the air) was dedicated in downtown Minneapolis at 7th St. near Nicollet Mall, the intersection where the scene was filmed over thirty years ago. Rocker Joan Jett turned THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW's theme "Love Is All Around" (by Sonny Curtis and Pat Williams) into a female empowerment anthem so popular the NCAA used it to promote their Women's Final Four championship. It then went into radio air play, became the most requested song without an actual CD release; and in March 2010 Jett rocked a cover of it on THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMEN.
Tinker & Moore at the height of MTM's success
Every few years new female empowerment programs arrive on the world media stage. And amazingly, regardless of the medium (music, film, television, novels, even comic books) conversation invariably drifts back to THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. Regardless of how explicit newer material may become in it's examination of gender roles and the varying definitions of self, the MTM story continues ... and will continue to set the gold standard to which all future contenders aspire.
Joan Jett - "Love Is All Around"
THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN (March, 2010)
She made it after all.
CEJ - Sept. 2011 (rev. 11/17/14) (rev. 1/29/17)