Mary Tyler Moore Show, The


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About

The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS in September 1970 and during its seven-year run became one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced. The program represented a significant change in the situation comedy, quickly distinguishing itself from typical plot-driven storylines filled with narrative predictability and unchanging characters. As created by the team of James Brooks and Allan Burns, The Mary Tyler Moore Show presented the audience with fully-realized characters who evolved and became more complex throughout their life on the show. Storylines were character-based and the ensemble cast used this approach to develop relationships which changed over time.

The program starred Mary Tyler Moore who had previously achieved success as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. 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. Rather, the character had just emerged from a live-in situation with a man whom she had helped through medical school. He left her upon receiving his degree and she relocated to Minneapolis determined to "make it on her own." This now-common concept was rarely depicted on television in the early 1970s, despite some visible successes of the women's movement.

Mary Richards found a job in the newsroom of fictional television station WJM, the lowest rated station in its market, and there she began her life as an independent woman. She found a "family" among her co-workers and her neighbors. Among these were Lou Grant (Ed Asner), the crusty news director, Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), the cynical news writer, Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), the supercilious anchorman, and, later, Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), the man-hungry "Happy Homemaker." Sharing her apartment house were Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), Mary's best friend, and Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), their shallow landlady. This ensemble pushed the situation comedy genre in new directions and provided the show with a fresh feel and look.

The "workplace family," while not new to television sitcoms (Our Miss Brooks and The Gale Storm Show were among earlier incarnations of this sub-genre), was redefined in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Here were characters easily defined by traditional familial qualities--Lou as the father figure, Ted as the problem child, Rhoda as the family confidante, and Mary as the mother/daughter around whom the entire situation revolved. But the special nature of these relationships gave the show its depth and humor. Never static, each character changed in ways previously unseen in the genre. One of the best examples occurred when Lou divorced his wife of many years. His adjustment to the transition from married to divorced middle-aged man provided rich comic moments but also allowed viewers see new depths in the character, to see behind the gruff facade into Lou's vulnerability, to grow closer to him. This type of evolution occurred with all the cast members, providing writers with constantly shifting perspective on the characters. From those perspectives new story lines could be developed and these fresh approaches helped renew a genre grown weary with repetition and familiar techniques.

Similarly, the program set the standard for a new sub-genre of situation comedy: the working woman sitcom. Beginning as a determined but uncertain independent woman, Mary Richards came to represent what has since become a convention in this type of comedy. Unattached and not reliant upon a man, Mary never rejected men as romantic objects or denied her hopes to one day be married. But unlike Rhoda, Mary did not define her life through her search for "Mr. Right." Rather, she dated several men and even spent the night with a few of them (another new development in TV sitcoms). Working-woman sitcoms since, including Kate & Allie and Murphy Brown, owe a debt to Mary Richards.

The program became an anchor of CBS' Saturday night schedule and, along with All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Bob Newhart Show and The Carol Burnett Show, was part of one of the strongest nights of programming ever presented by a network. From September 1970 until its final airing in September 1977, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was normally among the top 20 shows. It garnered three Emmy Awards as "Outstanding Comedy Series" (in 1975, 1976 and 1977). Moore, Asner, Harper, Knight and White all won Emmy's for their performances and the show's writing and directing were similarly honored several times.

The show was the first from MTM Productions, the company formed by Moore and her husband, Grant Tinker. MTM went on the produce an impressive list of landmark situation comedies and dramas including The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law. The characters from The Mary Tyler Moore Show provided the focus for several successful spin-offs in the 1970s: Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant. The latter was significant in that it represented the successful continuation and transformation of a character across genre lines. In the new show Asner played Grant as a newspaper editor in a serious, hour-long, issue-oriented drama. MTM Productions developed a reputation, begun in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for creating what became known as "quality television," television readily identifiable by its textured, humane and contemporary themes and characters.

Traits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show have become standard elements of many situation comedies since its airing. Because numerous writers and directors worked at MTM and on this show, then moved on to develop their own productions, its influence is notable in sitcoms such as Taxi, Cheers and Night Court.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was also one of the first sitcoms to bring closure to its story. In its last episode in 1977, the entire WJM news staff, with the exception of the very expendable Ted Baxter, was fired. Mary's neighbors, Rhoda and Phyllis, had departed previously for their own programs. Now the rest of her "family" was being broken up. Ironically, television brought them together and now the vagaries of television were separating them--in the "real" world as well as in their own fictional context. In the final moments Mary, Lou, Murray, Ted, his wife, Georgette, and Sue Ann mass together in a teary group hug and exit. Then Mary turns out the lights in the newsroom for the last time. It was a fitting conclusion to a program which had become very comfortable and very real in ways few other programs ever had.

-Geoff Hammill

CAST

Mary Richards..................................... Mary Tyler Moore

Lou Grant ................................................Edward Asner

Ted Baxter ...................................................Ted Knight

Murray Slaughter.................................... Gavin MacLeod

Rhoda Morgenstern (1970-1974)................ Valerie Harper

Phyllis Lindstrom (1970-1975)............... Cloris Leachman

Bess Lindstrom (1970-1974)..................... Lisa Gerritsen

Gordon (Gordy) Howard (1970-1973)............... John Amos

Georgette Franklin Baxter (1973-1977)....... Georgia Engel

Sue Ann Nivens (1973-1977) ........................Betty White

Marie Slaughter (1971-1977) ......................Joyce Bulifant

Edie Grant (1973-1974) ............................Priscilla Morrill

David Baxter (1976-1977)............................. Robbie Rist

PRODUCERS

James L. Brooks, Alan Burns, Stan Daniels, Ed Weinberger

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

168 Episodes

CBS

September 1970-December 1971   Saturday 9:30-10:00

December 1971-September 1972   Saturday 8:30-9:00

September 1972-October 1976   Saturday 9:00-9:30

November 1976-September 1977   Saturday 8:00-3:30

FURTHER READING

Alley, Robert S., and Irby B. Brown. Love Is All Around: The Making of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Foreword by Grant A. Tinker. New York: Delta, 1989.

Bathrick, Serifina. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Women at Home and at Work." In Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, editors. MTM Quality Television. (London: British Film Institute, 1984).

Dow, Bonnie. "Hegemony, Feminist Criticsm, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Critical Studies in Mass Communication (Annandale, Virginia), September 1990.

"Mary Tyler Moore Show." Newsweek (New York), 29 January 1973.

"Mary Tyler Moore Show." Good Housekeeping (New York), February 1974

"Mary Tyler Moore Show." Time (New York), 28 October 1974.

Rabinovitz, Lauren. "Sitcoms and Single Moms: Representations of Feminism on American TV." Cinema Journal (Champagne, Illinois), Fall 1989.

Highlights
Mary Tyler Moore on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:59
Reza Badiyi on creating the title sequence for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
07:23
Valerie Harper on the character of "Rhoda Morgenstern" and how she was the opposite of "Mary Richards"
01:01
Gavin MacLeod on the legacy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:43
Jay Sandrich on the concept of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and how the women's movement came to play a role on the show
04:00
John Amos on being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:44
Who talked about this show

John Amos

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John Amos on being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:44
John Amos on being "discovered" for "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:32
John Amos on the character of "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:26
John Amos on the atmosphere on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:04
John Amos on his favorite episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:36
John Amos on reuniting with the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on the TV Land Awards
00:44

Edward Asner

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Ed Asner on the classic The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
04:23
Ed Asner on being cast in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:49
Ed Asner on the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:07
Ed Asner on his character "Lou Grant" from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:56
Ed Asner on the family atmosphere on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:07
Ed Asner on how his character "Lou Grant" changed over the course of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:34
Ed Asner on the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:59
Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore episode "Thoroughly Un-millitant Mary"
01:18
Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Lou's Place"
01:32
Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "The Lou and Edie Story"
02:44
Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Once I Had a Secret Love"
04:08
Ed Asner on how the actors of The Mary Tyler Moore Show worked
05:21
Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites The Dust"
06:36
Ed Asner on playing "Lou Grant" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
09:48

Reza Badiyi

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Reza Badiyi on creating the title sequence for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
07:23
Reza Badiyi on the title sequence of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:21

Bruce Bilson

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Bruce Bilson on his difficulties directing the "Just a Lunch" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (airdate: January 16, 1971)
01:46

Eric Braeden

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Eric Braeden on guest-starring on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the episode "The Critic" (airdate: January 8, 1977)
01:42

James L. Brooks

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James L. Brooks on basing the editor for Lou Grant on CBS News editor John Merriman and using experiences with Merriman as fodder for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:08
James L. Brooks on wanting Walter Cronkite on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:48
James L. Brooks on the initial development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
08:49
James L. Brooks on the Mary Richards character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:12
James L. Brooks on the setting for and characters of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:30
Show co-creator/writer James L. Brooks on the story seed for The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode: "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
00:43
Show co-creator/writer James L. Brooks on Grant Tinker supporting taping of an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that the network was against
01:16
James L. Brooks on the "Put on a Happy Face" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:33
James L. Brooks on the "Will Mary Richards Go to Jail?" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:12
James L. Brooks on the "Lou Dates Mary" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:02
James L. Brooks on the "Once I Had a Secret Love" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:55
James L. Brooks on the "The Last Show" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:26
James L. Brooks on the "Mary's Big Party" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:41

Allan Burns

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Allan Burns on meeting Grant Tinker and the seed idea for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:17
Allan Burns on running the story idea of "Mary Richards" being divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show by CBS (response - American audiences won't tolerate 4 things on TV: people from New York, divorce, Jews, and mustaches)
07:49
Allan Burns on creating "Rhoda Morgenstern's" character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:49
Allan Burns on changing the concept of "Mary Richards" being divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
06:59
Allan Burns on the initial pilot script and format of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:01
Allan Burns on assembling the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
20:14
Allan Burns on the disastrous first rehearsal and shooting the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:43
Allan Burns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show benefiting from change-ups at CBS
04:54
Allan Burns on the theme song and opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:20
Allan Burns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show's success on Saturday nights
03:35
Allan Burns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show's writers
04:12
Allan Burns on how he and James L. Brooks worked together on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:37
Allan Burns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Support Your Local Mother"
01:58
Show co-creator Allan Burns on Mary Tyler Moore's expertise as an actress that allowed her to play the first part 'serious' of famed The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust," even when she had trouble keeping a straight face during dress rehearsal
02:10
Allan Burns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "The Good-Time News"
02:59
Allan Burns on the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:00
Allan Burns on the legacy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:42
Allan Burns on dividing his time between Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and other MTM productions
01:15
Allan Burns on a still photo from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Allan Burns on a photo from the 100th episode party for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:14
Allan Burns on the final script of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:51

James Burrows

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James Burrows on getting his job on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  
04:18
James Burrows on learning from Jay Sandrich on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:51
James Burrows on his first time directing The Mary Tyler Moore Show
07:04
James Burrows on directing more episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:27

Les Charles

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Glen and Les Charles on how they finally got hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
00:50
Glen and Les Charles on the first spec script they ever wrote: for The Mary Tyler Moore Show 
02:06
Glen and Les Charles on getting hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
04:27
Glen and Les Charles on writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:07

Glen Charles

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Glen and Les Charles on how they finally got hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
00:50
Glen and Les Charles on the first spec script they ever wrote: for The Mary Tyler Moore Show 
02:06
Glen and Les Charles on getting hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
04:27
Glen and Les Charles on writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:07

Connie Chung

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Connie Chung on Walter Cronkite appearing on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:17

Janis Paige with Emerson College

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Janis Paige on guest-starring on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Happy Days
01:26

Betty White with Emerson College

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Betty White on her Mary Tyler Moore Show character "Sue Ann Nivens", the importance of writers, and building her characters
02:51
Betty White on filming The Mary Tyler Moore Show in front of a live studio audience
01:24
Betty White on being cast as "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:46
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale 
03:26
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
04:21

Henry Colman

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Henry Colman on working as a CBS program executive during the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:48

Hal Cooper

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Hal Cooper on directing episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show including "The Good Time News"
01:36

Bill Daily

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Bill Daily on appearing in the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:15

Michael Dann

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Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:12

Elias Davis

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Elias Davis and David Pollock on writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:35

Nanette Fabray

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Nanette Fabray on appearing as "Mary Richards'" mother on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:10
Nanette Fabray on the groundbreaking aspects The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:03

Jamie Farr

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Jamie Farr on the best night of television ever - Saturday night with All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Bob Newhart Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Carol Burnett Show
01:05

Valerie Harper

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Valerie Harper on getting the role of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:48
Valerie Harper on the show and the character of "Rhoda"
05:04
Valerie Harper on one of the longest laughs on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:02
Valerie Harper on Mary Tyler Moore
03:15
Valerie Harper on working with The Mary Tyler Moore Show / Rhoda director Jay Sandrich
02:35
Valerie Harper on specific episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "Support Your Local Mother"
01:13
Valerie Harper on the anticipation of "Rhoda"'s wedding (on Rhoda) after years of watching her perpetually single on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:22
Valerie Harper on interacting with the writers on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
06:41
Valerie Harper on shooting the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:56

Allison Janney

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Allison Janney on loving The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Mary Tyler Moore
01:00

Lisa Kudrow

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Lisa Kudrow on being influenced by The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a young girl
00:11

Perry Lafferty

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Perry Lafferty on the significant shows he programmed at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:25

Christopher Lloyd

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Christopher Lloyd on the filming of the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust" which his father, David Lloyd wrote

Gavin MacLeod

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Actor Gavin MacLeod on being cast as "Murray Slaughter" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
09:02
Gavin MacLeod on the legacy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:43
Gavin MacLeod on co-starring on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  and the episode "Murray in Love"
28:17
Gavin MacLeod on the series finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:05

Mary Tyler Moore

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Mary Tyler Moore on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:59
Mary Tyler Moore on the casting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
07:22
Mary Tyler Moore on the difficulties of making the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:39
Mary Tyler Moore on the character of "Mary Richards," exemplified on "The Good-Time News" episode (airdate: September 16, 1972) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:32
Mary Tyler Moore on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust" (airdate: October 25, 1975)
02:18
Mary Tyler Moore on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Put on a Happy Face" (airdate: February 24, 1973)
01:43
Mary Tyler Moore on directing The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "A Boy's Best Friend" (airdate: November 23, 1974)
01:01
Mary Tyler Moore on the reactions she's gotten over the years about her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:59
Mary Tyler Moore on The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale, "The Last Show" (airdate: March 19, 1977)
02:53
Mary Tyler Moore on where she envisions The Mary Tyler Moore Show's "Mary Richards" would be today (1997)
00:54

Horace Newcomb

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Horace Newcomb on writing about television for the "Baltimore Sun," and on the coming of age of television in the 1970s with shows like All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
07:46

Gail Parent

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Gail Parent on writing an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:55

David Pollock

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Elias Davis and David Pollock on writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:35

Carl Reiner

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Carl Reiner on how The Mary Tyler Moore Show may have been born out of The Dick Van Dyke Show
00:21

Jay Sandrich

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Jay Sandrich on the myth about why he did not direct the episode The Mary Tyler Moore Show "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
01:23
Jay Sandrich on the "luckiest day in his career," when another director turned down The Mary Tyler Moore Show and it was offered to him, and why he never directed more than 2/3 of any season
02:44
Jay Sandrich on the concept of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and how the women's movement came to play a role on the show
04:00
Jay Sandrich on his directing style for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and clashes with producer/writer James L. Brooks, and on the evolution of Ted Knight's character
04:03
Jay Sandrich on how a disastrous runthrough of the first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show transformed into a very successful first taping
03:39
Jay Sandrich on the casting of Valerie Harper as "Rhoda" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:41
Jay Sandrich on the relationship between "Mary" and "Rhoda" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the difficulties of working with Cloris Leachman
04:34
Jay Sandrich on the cast and characters of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:42
Jay Sandrich on working with the writers on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and dealing with script issues
05:22
Jay Sandrich on an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with a character who is gay and getting that episode on air
01:52
Jay Sandrich on a favorite episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that presented a difficult writing challenge: when "Lou" sleeps with "Sue Ann" and "Mary" tells "Ted's" secret
01:40
Jay Sandrich on dealing with network interference on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:48
Jay Sandrich on classic episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "Toulouse-Lautrec is one of my Favorite Artists" and "Mary has a Disastrous Day"
03:10
Jay Sandrich on a classic episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show: "The Lars Affair" with Betty White
01:04
Jay Sandrich on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Mary Moves Out," which featured Penny Marshall and Mary Kay Place
01:29
Jay Sandrich on directing the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:15
Jay Sandrich on the difficulty of finding the right leading man to play opposite Mary Tyler Moore on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:42
Jay Sandrich on the challenges faced by the writers and cast for the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:18
Jay Sandrich on Valerie Harper leaving The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:47

Fred Silverman

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Fred Silverman on getting All In The Family and Mary Tyler Moore in the coveted Saturday night time slot, and on the subsequent ratings boost
01:40
Fred Silverman on the creative team of James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, creators of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and their contributions to comedy and CBS
01:47

Treva Silverman

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On how Mary Tyler Moore's Rhoda character was described to her; in developing female characters on the show
On developing female characters "Rhoda" and "Georgette" for The Mary Tyler Moore Show; "Today I'm a Ma'am"
Treva Silverman on the origin of story ideas for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Rhoda the Beautiful"

Abby Singer

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:43

Grant Tinker

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Grant Tinker on the creation of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:49
Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
18:55
Grant Tinker on The Mary Tyler Moore Show garnering numerous Emmys (29 total); on the end of the series
03:32

Betty White

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Betty White on the ensemble cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty White on her first appearance as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:39
On winning the Emmy for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
00:44

Hugh Wilson

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Hugh Wilson on working for MTM Productions and being on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:50

Ethel Winant

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Ethel Winant on casting The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:45

Henry Winkler

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How Henry Winkler's ad-lib got him hired for an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show five days after he arrived in L.A.
02:10

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