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For the English cricketer, see Mary Richards

Mary Richards is a fictional character the main character, played by Mary Tyler Moore, in the long-running television sitcom, Mary Tyler Moore.

Mary Richards is the daughter of Walter and Dottie Richards (although she calls her mother Marge in the episode "Bess, You is my daughter now"). She also had a crusading journalist aunt named Flo Meredith. She was engaged to a medical student named Bill, who left her after breaking off their engagement. Reeling from this breakup, she packed up her new white 1969 Ford Mustang, and moved from her small hometown of Roseburg, Minnesota, to Minneapolismarker, at the suggestion of her friend Phyllis Lindstrom.

Phyllis, the landlady of an apartment house, had signed a year's lease for Mary to have one of the best apartments. She did this, mainly to keep Rhoda Morgenstern, whom Phyllis despised, from trading up from the tiny attic loft where Rhoda resided. Though they initially clashed, Mary and Rhoda soon became best friends, to Phyllis's dismay. She also had a bond with Phyllis's daughter, Bess.

Mary applied for a secretarial job at television station, WJM-TV, the Twin Citiesmarker' lowest rated station. She met with news producer Lou Grant, who hated her spunk, but hired her anyway, albeit for a different position. The secretarial position was filled, so Mary was hired as associate producer, a job for which she was not qualified, and which paid less money than she would have made as a secretary. She quickly became friends with news writer Murray Slaughter, who in time came to adore her. She was even friends with the very vain (and very incompetent) news anchor, Ted Baxter. In fact, Ted got along better with Mary than anyone else in the news room.

The question of why Lou Grant hired Mary when she was not qualified for the job is never explained. The fact that he appeared at her apartment soon after she was hired and boozily opined that he thought Mary had a "great caboose" briefly led Mary to believe that Lou had ulterior motives. However, Lou eventually developed almost a paternal relationship with Mary. In a later episode, Mary discovers that she was paid substantially less money than the man who held the position before her. Grant, with his typical, politically incorrect candor, told Richards that he thought he could get away with paying her less because she was a woman. Mary let Lou know that times had changed, she fought for a raise and got it. Over time, she learned how to do her job, graduating from glorified gofer to a highly competent television producer. She was fluent in Spanish which was divulged in episode "Divorce Isn't Everything".

Mary often was the voice of reason, but that did not help her whenever she threw parties. Her parties were always unqualified disasters and were legendary in Minneapolis.

After almost four years of living in Phyllis' apartment house, she moved into a new high-rise apartment. Prior to this, Phyllis was spun-off into a new TV series, and she and Bess moving to her hometown of San Franciscomarker after the death of her husband. While living there, Mary made friends with next-door neighbor, Paula Kovaks (played infrequently by actress Penny Marshall).

Other friends of Mary's included homemaking expert, Sue Ann Nivens and Georgette Franklin, who married Ted in Mary's new apartment. Eventually, Mary was promoted to News Producer, while Lou became the station's news director.

During the show's later years, she visited Rhoda in New York and Phyllis in San Francisco, so she was not truly out of contact with her two closest friends.

She had had her share of dates over the course of the series, and even tried to date her boss, Lou, in the next-to-last episode. Up until then, she had always called Lou, "Mr. Grant."

In the final episode, Mary, along with Lou, Murray and Sue Ann, lost their jobs in an effort to boost the news' sagging ratings. Ted, ironically, had kept his job, despite the fact that it was he who was the primary cause for the news cast's low ratings.

During a surprise visit, Rhoda and Phyllis, who were clued in on the bad news by Lou, each wanted Mary to move in with them. Rhoda wanted her to move to New York City (where she would have numerous job opportunities; not to mention Rhoda to hang out with) and Phyllis wanted her to move to San Francisco (supposedly to have an ally in her constant battles with Mother Dexter, Phyllis' main nemesis). However, they had compromised. At that time, Mary stayed in Minneapolis.

Some years later, Mary did end up moving to New York and earned her master's degree in journalism, married a congressman (Steven Cronin), worked for ABC News, and had a daughter, Rose, of whom she was very proud. Her seven years of work at WJM-TV had paid off handsomely.

After her husband's death in a rock climbing accident, and discovering that her husband squandered their money in his re-election campaigns, she returned to New York, got a job working at a news network, and reconnected, happily, with her best friend, Rhoda, who, by this time, had had a daughter of her own, named Meredith. (Rose and Meredith hit it off wonderfully, which was no surprise, given that their mothers were close.)


In real life, there is a statue of Mary throwing her tam up in the air, as she did on the series, on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolismarker.

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