In my current job as an entertainment news producer I report on many celebrity deaths. Mourning becomes a casualty to getting the news out quickly and getting reaction from family and fans. But when I heard Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday, I took a moment to grieve.
I was too young to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” when it was in its original run, but I watched reruns and always liked Mary’s spunk. Then she became a feminist icon starring in the very originally-titled “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Mary Richards was one of the reasons I wanted to become a journalist, and more specifically, a TV news producer. I’m sure I’m not the only one of my sister colleagues who was inspired by her moxy and independence….her work ethic and heart.
And how about that cool apartment and enviable wardrobe? She was the first to have a giant letter “M” on the wall, and no one ever looked better in a suede vest.
She knew how to deliver a punch line with a quiet power, and how to stand back and let her quirky co-stars have their moments. She and Rhoda created a road map for female friendships, while proving you could have a successful, happy life without needing a man.
Thanks for that Mary.
I met Mary once, while covering the red carpet of the Tony Awards in New York in 2002. I jumped at the chance to talk to her.
She was taller than I thought she’d be and impeccably dressed in a classic black suit that was sophisticated, and age appropriate yet sexy. I asked her a bunch of questions which she answered dutifully.
As we wrapped up we had an exchange that I will never forget. I asked her if she enjoyed getting dressed up for big events like the Tonys and she looked me straight in the eye and said “No, I hate it!”
I was so surprised, as she seemed so in her element. But she said she’d rather be home with her dogs. Then I said ” But you look fabulous!” and she cocked her head to the side and smiled and said, ” Well, there’s that.” And then she glided away.
That dame knew how to take a compliment!
I’ll miss Mary, and what she represented to young girls like me: Someone who was smart and capable, glamorous and self-reliant. She made many of us believe we’re gonna make it after all.