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28 January 2017, 12:33 | Oscar Perry
Video: Watch Monument Square tribute to Mary Tyler Moore that went national
I was eight. Nick at Nite, that mainstay of nineteen-nineties family-friendly throwback programming, was re-introducing the youth to Mary Tyler Moore through a week-long "Marython".
And yet Mary Tyler Moore - who dies on January 25 at the age of 80 - came to inspire generations of American women since the 1970s through her role of journalist Mary Richards in the television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran from1970 to 1977.
Lots of people wind up in TV shows. Over the past five years, the asking price has declined by over a million dollars, dropping down to $1,695,000. But to land in two such means you have something a little bit magical to bring to the table reading, and then to American living rooms. Her smile didn't just turn the world on - it reflected an inner sense of strength and well-being; a sense - a real sense, not a Hollywood sense - of how we all could feel and all could make it if we tried.
"The picture that we all have of Mary, that's how she was - sweet, kind, so tender, so delicate". Her show was often as much about boyfriend and father as it was about her.
Earlier in the week, Moore's TV husband, Dick Van Dyke, shared his memories of his longtime friend. But the immediate throat clearing and nearly desperate look away tell of her true horror.
She received two Emmy Awards for her role as Laura Petrie, the comely and slightly scatterbrained wife of a TV comedy writer, on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", which aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966. He invites them over to fix things, over Laura's protestations.
Her younger sister died of a drug overdose aged just 21 and she lost her brother to cancer at 47, while her only son died in tragic circumstances at the age of just 21. Mary the character was fierce - she was everything. I still can't believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. She giggles, she snorts, she breaks into louder laughter, all the while trying to play it off with coughs and look-away gestures. She ruffles her bangs in the elevator, washes her auto awkwardly, blows on said bangs to adjust her hair when her arms are full, and sheepishly tosses a fattening item into her grocery cart. And Mary, standing there in somber black dress, breaks down in sobs. Her landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom, and upstairs neighbor, Rhoda Morgenstern, served as built-in best friends.
A great TV series is alchemy.
If you watched the mass of tributes to Mary Tyler Moore that appeared everywhere after her death was announced on Wednesday, you saw that what I originally thought was my weird and inexplicable first reaction to her wasn't that weird at all. She had the good taste to want to be part of them, the chops to handle what they asked of her and to sneak in something extra, and the courage to stand proudly with them as they occasionally led the nation forward on social issues. By the end of the episode, they've accepted her into their fold: "You were jailed for doing your job?"
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