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The Mary Tyler Moore Show (also known as Mary Tyler Moore as seen in the opening titles) is an Americanmarker television sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from September 19, 1970 to March 19, 1977. The program was a television breakthrough, with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character:
As Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, Moore presented a character different from other single TV women of the time.
She was not widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her.

It has also been cited as "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history.Over a seven-year period, it received high praise from critics and Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975, 1976, and 1977). The show continued to be honored long after the final episode aired. In 2003, USA Today called it "one of the best shows ever to air on TV". In 1997, TV Guide selected a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode as the best TV episode ever, and, in 1999, Entertainment Weekly picked Mary's hat toss in the opening credits as television's second greatest moment.


Mary Richards (Moore) is a single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolismarker after breaking off an engagement with her boyfriend of two years. She applies for a secretarial job at TV station WJM-TV, only to find it has already been filled. To her surprise, she is offered the position of associate producer for the station's Six O'Clock News (which pays $10 a week less than the job she had originally sought).

At work, she befriends her tough-but-lovable boss Lou Grant (played by Edward Asner); sympathetic, long-suffering newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod); and pompous, dim-witted, and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Mary's other acquaintances and friends include upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), a self-deprecating ex-New Yorker who becomes her best friend; their neurotic, self-involved landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman); and Phyllis's precocious daughter Bess (Lisa Gerritsen). Characters introduced later are the acerbic, man-hungry host of WJM's cooking program, The Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White); and sweet-natured, soft-spoken Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), Ted Baxter's girlfriend and eventual wife.


Main characters

  • Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) When Moore was first approached about the show, she "was unsure and unwilling to commit, fearing any new role might suffer in comparison with her Laura character in The Dick Van Dyke Show, already cemented as one of the most popular parts in US TV history." It was originally planned for Mary to be a divorcée, but because the network was afraid viewers might think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, her character's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, the premise was changed to that of simply a broken engagement.

  • Lou Grant (Edward Asner) Lou Grant is Mary's tough, work-oriented boss whose soft-hearted nature comes through even though he strongly tries to suppress it. He treats Mary like a daughter and always looks out for her. As producer of the news, he is responsible for the news ratings, which makes him despise Ted's mistakes and often criticize him, although it appears that he has a soft spot for Ted too. Following the end of the series, Asner continued to play the same character in the long-running dramatic series Lou Grant. This is one of the few times in TV history that a situation comedy spun off a dramatic series. In 2005, Asner reprised his character, though never identified as Lou Grant, in commercials for Minneapolis–St. Paul ABC affiliate KSTPmarker's Eyewitness News.

  • Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), the head copy writer, who saves his quips for Ted Baxter's mangling of his news reports, and Sue Ann Nivens' aggressive, man-hungry attitude. He also has a soft spot for Mary and the two are good friends, able to share their feelings and discuss things with each other. Murray enjoys his work most when he gets to write a big story or when he is able to tease Ted about Ted's many mistakes and his pompous attitude.

  • Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), is the vain, pompous, dim-witted news anchor. It is a miracle that he has not been fired, as there has rarely, if ever, been a night where he has broadcast the news without making one, or several, mistakes. His main stumbling blocks are mispronouncing words and reading large words. He also tends to let personal situations get in the way of his job. Despite these downfalls, he is very vain and self-centered and considers himself to be the best news-caster ever. He believes that he is very important - on one occasion he sent a Christmas card to the president and was upset when he didn't receive one back. He also considers himself to be quite a 'ladies-man', although quite the opposite is true. The role was written with Jack Cassidy in mind. However, Cassidy did not feel the part was right for him and turned it down. Cassidy later appeared as a guest star in a 1971 episode as Ted's highly competitive and equally egocentric brother, Hal.

  • Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) (1970–74), is Mary's best friend and upstairs neighbor. She is very down on herself and is always worried about her weight. She is also a bit jealous of Mary because of her looks and abilities. She has a very colorful and loud personality, and likes to express herself. She and Phyllis are always at odds and love finding faults with each other, and Rhoda usually comes out the victor in these battles of wit. Harper eventually got her own spinoff series, Rhoda.

  • Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) (1970–75), is Mary's snobbish landlady, wife (and later widow) of Dr. Lars Lindstrom and mother of Bess. She is a busy-body and loves to be in control of things. She is very emotional, and she is also very pushy and finds it very easy to manipulate Mary to get what she wants. She is actively involved in groups and clubs, is a political activist, and is a supporter of Women's Liberation. She also starred in her own spinoff series, Phyllis.

  • Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) (1974–77), host of The Happy Homemaker show. Her superficially ever-cheerful demeanor belies her true, man-chasing nature. She is particularly attracted to Lou Grant (who in no way returns her interest).

Recurring characters

Awards and honors


By earning 29 Emmy Awards, the Mary Tyler Moore Show set a record that was not broken until Frasier earned its 30th in 2002, ultimately earning 37 by 2004.

  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — Edward Asner
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Valerie Harper
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series — James L. Brooks & Allan Burns, for episode "Support Your Local Mother"
  • Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series — Jay Sandrich, for episode "Toulouse Lautrec is One of My Favorite Artists"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — Edward Asner
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Valerie Harper

  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — Mary Tyler Moore
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — Ted Knight
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Valerie Harper
  • Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series — Jay Sandrich, for episode "It's Whether You Win or Lose"

  • Actress of the Year — Series — Mary Tyler Moore
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — Mary Tyler Moore
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Cloris Leachman, for episode "The Lars Affair"
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series — Treva Silverman, for episode "The Lou and Edie Story"
  • Treva Silverman, Writer of the Year/TV Series

  • Outstanding Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — Edward Asner
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Betty White
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Cloris Leachman, for episode "Phyllis Whips Inflation" (award shared with Zohra Lampert, Kojak)
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series — Ed Weinberger & Stan Daniels, for episode "Will Mary Richards Go to Jail?"
  • Douglas Hines, Outstanding Film Editing for Entertainment Programming

  • Outstanding Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — Mary Tyler Moore
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — Ted Knight
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — Betty White
  • Outstanding Writing in Comedy Series — David Lloyd, for episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"

  • Outstanding Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series — Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison, for episode "The Last Show"
  • Douglas Hines, Outstanding Film Editing/Comedy Series, for episode "Murray Can't Lose"

Golden Globe Awards

  • 1971: Mary Tyler Moore, Best Actress/Comedy

  • 1972: Edward Asner, Best Supporting Actor/Comedy


  • In 1997, TV Guide ranked "Chuckles Bites The Dust" 1st on their list of The Greatest Episodes of All Time. "The Lars Affair" made the list at 27th.

  • In 1998, Entertainment Weekly placed The Mary Tyler Moore Show first in its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of all Time.

  • In 1999, the TV Guide list of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time ranked Mary Richards 21st and Ted Baxter 29th. Only three other shows placed two characters on the list (Taxi, The Honeymooners and Seinfeld).

  • In 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked the opening credits image of Mary tossing her hat into the air as #2 on their list of The 100 Greatest Moments In Television.

  • In 2007, Time magazine placed the Mary Tyler Moore Show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".

  • Bravo ranked Mary Richards 8th, Lou Grant 35th, Ted Baxter 48th, and Rhoda Morgenstern 57th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters [11629].

Memorable episodes

  • "Love Is All Around" (September 19, 1970) - In the premiere episode, thirty-year-old Mary Richards moves to Minneapolismarker after rebounding from a broken romance. She finds an apartment in the same large house as her old friend Phyllis Lindstrom and becomes friends with her upstairs neighbor, native New Yorker Rhoda Morgenstern. She applies for a secretarial position at WJM-TV, but gets a job as associate producer for The Six O'Clock News instead (for less pay).

  • "Support Your Local Mother" (October 24, 1970) - Mary finds herself caught between Rhoda and her mother, when Mrs. Morgenstern, a member of the "keep-them-feeling-guilty" school of child rearing, comes to Minneapolis for a visit and Rhoda refuses to see her. Nancy Walker's debut as Ida Morgenstern.

  • "Rhoda the Beautiful" (October 21, 1972) - After dropping twenty pounds, Rhoda reluctantly enters a beauty pageant at work. Though she looks great (even Phyllis compliments her), she still can't get used to thinking of herself as beautiful. The episode won Valerie Harper her third Best Supporting Actress Emmy.

  • "My Brother's Keeper" (January 13, 1973) - Phyllis wants to set up her visiting brother with Mary, but instead he hits it off with Rhoda and begins spending time with her, to Phyllis's dismay. Rhoda informs Phyllis that he is gay. Though surprised, Phyllis could not care less that her brother is gay, and is simply relieved that there are no romantic feelings between him and Rhoda.

  • "The Lars Affair" (September 15, 1973) - Phyllis makes a desperate bid to win back her husband Lars when she finds out that he's having an affair with Sue Ann Nivens. Sue Ann was introduced in this episode. This episode was ranked #27 on TV Guides The Greatest Episodes of All Time.
"Group hug" in the final episode.

  • "Chuckles Bites the Dust" (October 25, 1975) - The ludicrous death of WJM's Chuckles the Clown, crushed by an elephant while dressed as Peter Peanut, provokes a torrent of black humor which has everyone in the newsroom but Mary convulsed in laughter. Mary's suppressed laughter comes out at an inopportune moment: at Chuckles' funeral. This episode was ranked #1 on TV Guides The Greatest Episodes of All Time.

  • "The Seminar" (January 10, 1976) Mary accompanies Lou to a convention in Washington, DC, where Lou attempts to impress Mary with all the connections that he still has there from his newspaper days. When none of them pans out, Mary begins to feel sorry for Lou, until he receives a call from First Lady Betty Ford (who appears as herself).

  • "Mary's Big Party" (March 5, 1977) After years of throwing one bad party after another, Mary thinks she finally will have a successful one when her old friend Congresswoman Getties tells her that she is bringing none other than Johnny Carson himself as her guest. Mary and company are overjoyed until a blackout in the neighborhood plunges the party into total darkness. Sitting in the dark, the group reminisces about all the bad parties Mary has had in the past, amid a contemplation of clips from past shows. At the end of the episode Carson does appear; however, with the lights still out, the audience is only able to hear him and not see him.

  • "The Last Show" (March 19, 1977) The new owner of WJM re-evaluates the news operation and, unable to determine the reason for the low ratings, arbitrarily fires everyone in the newsroom except for the supremely incompetent Ted. The curtain call of this episode (seen only in the initial telecast) shows Mary Tyler Moore introducing the other seven regular cast members to the audience as "the best cast ever."

Opening title sequence

The opening title sequence for the show begins with the name of its star across the screen, which then multiplies both upward and downward vertically in a number of colors, followed by a montage of brief shots of Mary, mostly engaging in everyday activities around the city, as the theme song plays. In the final shot, she cheerfully tosses her tam o'shanter in the air in the middle of the street; a freeze frame shot captures her smiling face and the hat in mid-air.

The sequence was created by Reza Badiyi who also did the opening sequence for Hawaii Five-O. Badiyi came up with the idea for the final shot, which Entertainment Weekly ranked as the second greatest moment in television. An older woman can be seen in the background, obviously puzzled by the sight of a young woman tossing her hat in the air. This unwitting "extra" was Hazel Frederick, a lifelong Minnesota resident who happened to be out shopping the day the sequence was shot. Mrs. Frederick finally met Mary in 1994 when she was on a book tour of her autobiography, introducing her as "my co-star".

From 1973 to the series' conclusion, Mary is shown washing her car while wearing the #10 home jersey of Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton and the Vikings had played in three Super Bowls around this time, the last in the 1976 season.

Some of the scenes show Mary Tyler Moore interacting with crew members. In one, the camera pans over a shot of Mary Richards eating at a restaurant with an older man, the actress' then-husband, Grant Tinker, who served as president of MTM Enterprises until 1981. Another scene shows Mary walking in the park, where she is passed by two joggers: creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns.

In later seasons, Mary is shown looking at a package of meat at a supermarket, then rolling her eyes as she throws it into her shopping cart. This is a reference to the skyrocketing prices of meat during the mid-70's.

Scenes showing Mary driving a white 1970 Ford Mustang toward Minneapolis in the first-season sequence were supposedly filmed on Interstate 494marker (the Sheraton Bloomingtonmarker, back then a Radisson, can be seen in the background) and what is now Hennepin County Road 122 (at its interchange with Cedar Ave).

From season two onward, Moore's costars were also featured in the opening, with shots of Moore with Phyllis and Rhoda in Mary's apartment (seasons four and five featured Moore and Harper walking down a Minneapolis street laughing), and Mary hugging Lou, Murray and Ted (crushing Ted's fedora, in the process, which he'd held in front of his torso).

Theme song

The theme song, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis (often mistakenly attributed to Paul Williams). The lyrics are words of encouragement directed to the character and the first season featured the first verse of the song, which refers to the ending of her relationship and making a fresh start, concluding "You might just make it after all". The more familiar second verse of the song was used in subsequent seasons, with the lyrics affirming her optimistic character, concluding "You're gonna make it after all". The song has been covered by artists such as Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Christie Front Drive, Sammy Davis Jr., and Hüsker Dü, and was featured in a long-running commercial for Chase bank in the mid-2000s.

The song was also sung in the TV Series 7th Heaven during the birth of the Camden twins in Season 3 in the episode In Praise of women.


The show became extremely popular in the Saturday night CBS sitcom lineup. Despite finishing relatively well in the final season, producers argued for its cancellation due to falling ratings, afraid that the show's legacy might be damaged if it were renewed for another season . Listed below are its annual rankings among all television shows:

  • 1970-1971: #22
  • 1971-1972: #10
  • 1972-1973: #7
  • 1973-1974: #9
  • 1974-1975: #11
  • 1975-1976: #19
  • 1976-1977: #39

Spin-offs, TV specials and reunions

  • The show spun-off three television series: Rhoda (1974-1978), Phyllis (1975-1977) and Lou Grant (1977-1982).

  • In 2000, Moore and Harper reprised their roles in a two-hour ABC made-for-TV reunion movie, Mary and Rhoda.

  • On May 19, 2008, the surviving cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show all reunited on the daytime talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show to reminisce about the series. Winfrey, a longtime admirer of Moore and the show, had her staff recreate the sets of the WJM-TV newsroom and Mary's apartment for the reunion.

Cultural references and parodies

  • A 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch had Ted Baxter, played by Steve Martin, unwittingly kill Mary Richards by pouring Drano in her coffee as a joke.

  • On her 1995 debut album A Stranger to This Land singer-songwriter Barbara Kessler included a song entitled "Mary Tyler Moore", in which she sang about how she wished her life were more like that of Mary Richards.

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which was produced in Minneapolismarker) often featured numerous references to the Mary Tyler Moore Show. These would appear primarily in the "riffs" that were done during the movie that the MST3K characters were watching (such as during episode 622, "Angels Revenge", which featured snippets of the MTM Show's theme song sung in a Jack Palance-type voice whenever Palance was shown driving; and episode 814, "Riding With Death", where they often remarked upon a character's resemblance to Murray Slaughter), and sometimes during the "host segments" (in episode 1010, "It Lives By Night", Crow T. Robot staged an elaborate setup to prove he looked like Mary Tyler Moore, only to be thwarted by Mike Nelson's and Tom Servo's overwrought impersonations of Ted Baxter and Lou Grant).

  • On "The Simpsons", Marge's sister, Selma, gets her hair styled to look like Mary's circa the fourth season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Upon Homer's criticism, her sister Patty states, "Don't listen to him. You can turn the world on with your smile."

  • At the end of the opening sequence of the spin-off Rhoda, the title character flings her hat in the air, but the camera keeps running and the hat falls to the ground in a humorous anti-climax.

  • The final episode's group hug was incorporated into the finale of St. Elsewhere, including the group shuffle to the tissue box.

  • In The Simpsons episode "And Maggie Makes Three", while working at the bowling alley, Homer Simpson spins around singing, "I'm gonna make it after all!", and tosses a bowling ball in the air. It, of course, lands straight on the ground.

  • On a Sabrina, the Teenage Witch episode, Sabrina jokingly says she can "turn the world on with her smile", but then questions herself, saying, "Wait. That's Mary."

  • The winning musical selection that Peter Griffin plays at the piano competition in the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent" is the The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme. Afterwards, a girl throws her hat in the air and freezes, while those around her look perplexed as to why she is not moving.

  • UK sketch show The All New Alexei Sayle Show parodies the opening credits in its opening sequence, with Alexei Sayle dancing through the streets of London to the theme song 'Life's a Big Banana Sandwich'.

  • The 45th episode of the animated series Animaniacs opens with a skit showing Dot going through strange situations to a parody of the song.

  • The song "Buddy Holly" by the band Weezer includes the lines "I look just like Buddy Holly / And you're Mary Tyler Moore". A line from alternate lyrics to the song includes "She just throws her hat up in the air, and it just stays there."

  • In an episode of the tv series, Arthur, the character Muffy is seen riding up an escelator and throwing her hat up in the air while background music is playing that describes her, making a reference to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

DVD releases

DVD releases of The Mary Tyler Moore Show have been infrequent, reportedly due to the glut of television shows being "dumped" on the market. Though only five of the seven seasons have been released to date, the time since the first season's release has already exceeded that of the series' entire original telecast run.

The first season was released in North America in 2002, the second three years later in July 2005, and the following two in January and June 2006 . More than three additional years passed before season 5 was released on October 6, 2009. Season 6 is scheduled to be released on February 2, 2010.

Legacy in Minneapolis

From the opening scenes of every episode to the places and events portrayed in the show, Mary Tyler Moore and its setting in Minneapolismarker are inextricably linked.

7th Street and Nicollet Mall

On May 8, 2002, cable TV network TV Land dedicated a statue of Mary Tyler Moore near the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mallmarker in Minneapolis. It captured her iconic toss and was placed near the spot where it occurred (the actual location was in the middle of the street). Although many in the press were skeptical of TV Land's motive at first, some claiming it was a marketing strategy, one Macalestermarker professor stating that it was "like honoring a unicorn"- crowds of onlookers at the unveiling exhibited hushed excitement rather than animosity. Moore herself attended. It has become something of a tourist attraction for fans of the show, who sometimes throw their own hats in front of it. Moore released the cap when her hand was about at waist-level and her hand went high in the air only as a follow-through. The statue by necessity shows her hand high above her head as she is releasing (or possibly catching) the cap.

The Dayton's department store in the background of some of those scenes (later a Marshall Field'smarker and now a Macy'smarker) has changed considerably in appearance. In fact, the exact spot where the cap toss occurred was debated extensively, because the layout along Nicollet has changed substantially since the early 1970s due to urban renewal. The actual backdrop of the scene, the Donaldson's department store catercorner to the site, was destroyed in 1982 by the Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Firemarker.

Kenwood Parkway house

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly said that "TV's most famous bachelorette pad" was Mary's apartment within a house. For the first few seasons, Rhoda and Phyllis also lived in apartments within the same house, located at 119 N. Weatherly. This address is fictional, with "North Weatherly" being a comment on the city's climate. The exterior of a real house in Minneapolis (in the Kenwood neighborhood, at 2104 Kenwood Parkway) was filmed for regular establishing shots of Richards' house. In the real house, an unfinished attic occupied the space where Mary's apartment was supposedly located.

Once fans of the series discovered the place, the house became a popular tourist destination. According to Moore, the woman who lived in the house "was overwhelmed by the people showing up and asking if Mary was around". To discourage crews from filming additional footage of the house, the owners placed an "Impeach Nixon" sign beneath the windows where Mary supposedly lived. This was allegedly the motivation behind Mary Richards' move to the high rise (Riverside Plazamarker, then known as Cedar Square West), at the start of the 1975 season. Despite this move, the Kenwood neighborhood house continued to attract large numbers of tourists. More than a decade after the shows's production ended, the house was still drawing 30 tour buses a day in the summer.

In 2005, Don and Patricia Gerlach purchased the house for approximately $1.1 million and began extensive renovations. The third-floor space that was the fictitious setting for Mary's apartment is now a state-of-the-art media room with a plasma TV over the fireplace.

Other locations

The famous shots of Mary walking around a lake (be it in the summer or the winter) were filmed in the "Chain of Lakes" area west of downtown Minneapolis, most notably at the Lake of the Islesmarker, and another shot was taken in Loring Park.

The establishing shots of Mary's workplace were of Midwest Plazamarker at the corner of 8th Street and Nicollet Mall. The IDS Centermarker was still under construction across the street when the most familiar establishing shot was taken. For an update of the opening montage for the fourth season, Mary visited the completed IDS Center and was seen riding the escalator in the Crystal Court and dining with a man at what is now the Mary Tyler Moore table at Basil's Restaurant. In 2006, the manager of Basil's said that his customers still frequently request the table where Mary sat. Other sites were featured on the show, particularly in the opening credits, but since actual filming of the series took place in Studio City, Californiamarker, the cast was rarely in Minneapolis.


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