This is a tough one. We lost a lot of great talented well-loved individuals in 2016. But this, the first big loss of 2017, is a really tough one, especially for women, and even more especially for women who grew up in the 70s. The word “iconic” somehow doesn’t seem like it’s enough to describe her.
I used to watch reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show in later afternoons/early evenings. Back then it was followed by The Andy Griffith Show. I watched them both every night. There were so many iconic Mary moments that crop up still forty, forty-five years later.
Because it’s the only way I know how to cry!
What are you doing now Millie?
Every time I want to peek at something I think of that damn inflatable boat
Oops, I dropped my spoon. I’ll go get it.
One for Moo Moo.
Just like Mrs. Cleaver and Mrs. Brady, I think we all wanted to be Mrs. Petrie, but even more so than the other two. Laura Petrie was beautiful, funny, smart … everything.
And then she did it again. Mary Tyler Moore came back and gave us yet another iconic, there’s that word again, show. This time she was the star. And she wasn’t a wife. She was a working woman. Mary Richards was determined to make it after all. I don’t know if there will ever be a way to describe to younger women how influential The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Mary Richards were to those of us who grew up watching her on Saturday nights.
This is a character that inspired Oprah Winfrey to pursue journalism. Just think about that. From that opening theme Mary drove alone to Minneapolis and got a job in a newsroom. As I was discussing on Facebook with some friends today, there weren’t many young girls at that time who didn’t dream of growing up and having that life.
We wanted that cool apartment with the sunken living room and beautiful windows, we wanted Rhoda Morganstern to be our best friend/neighbor. We wanted her clothes. We wanted her job. We wanted a giant initial on our wall. We wanted her dates. We wanted Lou Grant to tell us we had spunk. We even wanted to laugh at a funeral with her.
But it taught us. It taught us that we could have all that. With that same ambition, we could have all those things we wanted. And when we became adults and went off in the real world, who among us was not hoping that we would have coworkers like she did? Lou, Murray, Sue Ann, and yes, even Ted.
So to us, Mary Tyler Moore was more than just an actress. She was more than an icon. She was everything we wanted to be as adults when you combine her two shows.
Mary had a lot of sadness in her life, but she brought so many of us so much joy, laughter, and inspiration. This loss hurts.
It makes me think of the last scene in the season finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Everyone was fired except for Ted, so they were leaving each other for the last time. They got wrapped in a group hug and even shuffled to the box of Kleenex together. Lou said at the end, “I treasure you people,” and made everyone sitting on their couches at home absolutely sob.
But for all these years, we treasured Mary. She was more than an icon. She was a treasure.