The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mary Tyler Moore

Opening title
Created by James L. Brooks
Allan Burns
Starring Mary Tyler Moore
Edward Asner
Valerie Harper
Gavin MacLeod
Ted Knight
Cloris Leachman
Georgia Engel
Betty White
Theme music composer Sonny Curtis
Opening theme "Love Is All Around", written and performed by Sonny Curtis
Composer(s) Patrick Williams
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 168 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) James L. Brooks
Allan Burns
Producer(s) David Davis
Lorenzo Music
Ed Weinberger
Stan Daniels
Running time 2526 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Enterprises
Distributor 20th Television
Original network CBS
Picture format Color
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 19, 1970 (1970-09-19) – March 19, 1977 (1977-03-19)
Followed by Lou Grant (1977–82)
Related shows Rhoda (1974–78)
Phyllis (1975–77)
Lou Grant (1977–82)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, originally known simply by the name of the show's star, Mary Tyler Moore, is an American sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. The program was a television shift, with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character.[1]

It is one of the most acclaimed television programs in US television history.[1] It received high praise from critics, including Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–77), and continued to be honored long after the final episode aired. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show No. 6 in its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.[2]

Summary and setting

Mary Richards (Moore) is a single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis after being jilted by her boyfriend of two years. She applies for a secretarial job at TV station WJM, but that is already taken. She is instead offered the position of associate producer of the station's "Six O'Clock News". She befriends her tough but lovable boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner), newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Mary later becomes producer of the show.

Mary rents a third floor studio apartment in a Victorian house from acquaintance and downstairs landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), and she and upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) become best friends. Characters introduced later in the series are acerbic, man-hungry TV hostess Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), and sweet-natured Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), as Ted Baxter's girlfriend (and later, wife). At the beginning of season 6, after both Rhoda and Phyllis have moved away (providing a premise for two spinoffs), Mary relocates to a one bedroom high-rise apartment.

In the third season, issues such as equal pay for women, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality are woven into the show's comedic plots. In the fourth season, such subjects as marital infidelity and divorce are explored with Phyllis and Lou, respectively. In the fifth season, Mary refuses to reveal a news source and is jailed for contempt of court. While in jail, she befriends a prostitute who seeks Mary's help in a subsequent episode. In the final seasons, the show explores humor in death in the episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust" and juvenile delinquency; Ted deals with intimate marital problems, infertility, and adoption, and suffers a heart attack; and Mary overcomes an addiction to sleeping pills. Mary dates several men on and off over the years, two seriously, but remains single throughout the series.

Kenwood Parkway house

The house on Kenwood Parkway

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly said that "TV's most famous bachelorette pad" was Mary's apartment.[3] The fictitious address was 119 North Weatherly, but the exterior establishing shots were of a real house in Minneapolis at 2104 Kenwood Parkway. In the real house, an unfinished attic occupied the space behind the window recreated on the interior studio set of Mary's apartment.[4]

Once fans of the series discovered where exterior shots had been taken, 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".[5] To discourage crews from filming additional footage of the house, the owners placed an "Impeach Nixon" sign beneath the window where Mary supposedly lived.[4] The house continued to attract 30 tour buses a day more than a decade after production ended.[5]


First season cast: (left top) Harper, Asner, Leachman; (left bottom) MacLeod, Moore, Knight. Last season cast: (right top) Knight, MacLeod, Asner; (right bottom) White, Engel, Moore.
She made her first appearance at one of Mary Richards' parties. She worked as a window dresser at Hempel's Department Store in Minneapolis, Minnesota along with Rhoda Morgenstern. Later, she worked for a car rental service, as a Golden Girl, and for Rhoda selling plants.
Georgette was devoted to Ted and they would eventually marry in Mary Richards' apartment. They adopt a child named David (Robbie Rist), and later, she gives birth to a girl named Mary Lou, also in Mary's apartment.

Response and impact

Impact on television

In 2007, TIME magazine put The Mary Tyler Moore Show on its list of "17 Shows That Changed TV". TIME stated that the series "liberated TV for adults—of both sexes" by being "a sophisticated show about grownups among other grownups, having grownup conversations".[7] The Associated Press said that the show "took 20 years of pointless, insipid situation comedy and spun it on its heels. [It did this by] pioneer[ing] reality comedy and the establishment of clearly defined and motivated secondary characters."[8]

Tina Fey, creator and lead actress of the 2006-debut sitcom 30 Rock, explained that Moore's show helped inspire 30 Rock's emphasis on office relationships. "Our goal is to try to be like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where it's not about doing the news," said Fey.[9] Entertainment Weekly also noted that the main characters of 30 Rock mirror those of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.[10]

When the writers of the sitcom Friends were about to create their series finale, they watched several other sitcom finales.[11] Co-creator Marta Kauffman said that the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the "gold standard" and that it influenced the finale of Friends.[12]

The show has remained popular since the final episode was broadcast in 1977. Several songs, films and other television programs, including The Simpsons, reference or parody characters and events from the show, including the memorable "...can turn the world on with her smile" line from the title song. Parodies were done on shows such as Saturday Night Live, MadTV, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which was produced in Minneapolis). Barbara Kessler and Relient K are two artists who have referred to the show in their songs. The show has been mentioned in film as well, such as in Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, when the characters argue with each other while exclaiming "I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda." Frank DeCaro of The New York Times wrote that this was the highlight of the film.[13]

The show's Emmy winning final episode has been alluded to many times in other series' closing episodes, such as the finale of St. Elsewhere (including the group shuffle to the tissue box), Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Just Shoot Me!.


Final episode, 1977

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 Petrie character in The Dick Van Dyke Show, which also aired on CBS, and was already cemented as one of the most popular parts in TV history".[14] Moore's character was initially intended to be a divorcée, but as divorce was still controversial at the time, and CBS was afraid viewers might think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, Laura's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, the premise was changed to that of a single woman with a recently broken engagement.[15] Notably, Van Dyke never guest starred in any episode, although his brother Jerry Van Dyke guest-starred in a couple episodes during the third and fourth seasons. (He had also regularly appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show.)

According to co-creator Allan Burns, Minnesota was selected for the show's location after "one of the writers began talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings".[16] A television newsroom was chosen for the show's workplace because of the supporting characters often found there, stated co-creator James Brooks.[16]

Title sequences

The opening title sequence features many scenes filmed on location in Minneapolis in both summer and winter, as well as a few clips from the show's studio scenes. The sequence changed each season, but always ended with Mary tossing her hat in front of what was then the flagship Donaldson's department store at the intersection of South 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The hat toss was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the second greatest moment in television.[17] On May 8, 2002, Moore was in attendance when basic cable network TV Land dedicated a statue to her that captured her iconic throw. In 2010, TV Guide ranked the show's opening title sequence No. 3 on a list of TV's Top Ten credit sequences, as selected by readers.[18]

The theme song played during the opening, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis.

No supporting cast members are credited during the show's opening (though from the second season on, shots of them appear). The ending sequences show snippets of the cast and guest stars from the show with the respective actors' names. Other on-location scenes are also shown during the closing credits, including a rear shot of Mary holding hands with her date, played by Moore's then husband, Grant Tinker, and Moore and Valerie Harper feeding ducks on the bank of a pond in a Minneapolis park (this shot remained in the credits, even after Harper left the show). The ending sequence music is an instrumental version of "Love is All Around". The ending finishes with a cat meowing within the MTM company logo.

Spin-offs, specials and reunions

Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Mary Tyler Moore in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1977).

The show spun off three television series, all of which aired on CBS: the sitcoms Rhoda (1974–78) and Phyllis (1975–77), and the one-hour drama Lou Grant (1977–82). In 2000, Moore and Harper reprised their roles in a two-hour ABC TV-movie, Mary and Rhoda.

Two retrospective specials were produced by CBS: Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991) and The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion (2002). On May 19, 2008, the surviving cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show reunited on 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 (seasons 1–5) for the reunion.

In 2013, the women of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, and Georgia Engel, reunited on the TV Land sitcom Hot In Cleveland, which aired on September 4. The cast was interviewed by Katie Couric on Katie as they celebrated acting together for the first time in more than 30 years.

Broadcast history

United States

Television schedule

Nielsen ratings


The show did not do well initially in syndication, never being shown in more than 25 percent of the United States at a time, according to Robert S. Alley, the co-author of a book about the series. In the fall of 1992, Nick at Nite began broadcasting the series nightly, launching it with a week-long "Mary-thon", and it became the network's top-rated series.[26]

United Kingdom

The series was broadcast on BBC1 from February 13, 1971, to December 29, 1972.[27] The BBC broadcast the first 34 episodes before the series was dropped. Beginning in 1975 a number of ITV companies picked up the series. Channel 4 repeated the first 39 episodes between January 30, 1984, and August 23, 1985. The full series was repeated on Family channel from 1993 to 1996.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all 7 seasons on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Episodes Region 1 release date
The Complete First Season 24 September 24, 2002
The Complete Second Season 24 July 26, 2005
The Complete Third Season 24 January 17, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season 24 June 20, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season 24 October 6, 2009
The Complete Sixth Season 24 February 2, 2010
The Complete Seventh and Final Season 24 October 5, 2010

On the season 7 DVD, the last episode's "final curtain call", broadcast only once on March 19, 1977 (March 18 in Canada), was included at the request of fans.[28] However, some of the season 7 sets did not include the curtain call; a replacement disc is reported to be available from the manufacturer.[29]

Awards and honors


In addition to numerous nominations, The Mary Tyler Moore Show won 29 Emmy Awards. This was a record unbroken until Frasier earned its 30th in 2002.[30]


Golden Globe Awards

Peabody Award

The show was honored with a Peabody Award in 1977. In presenting the award, the Peabody committee stated that MTM Enterprises had "established the benchmark by which all situation comedies must be judged" and lauded the show "for a consistent standard of excellence – and for a sympathetic portrayal of a career woman in today's changing society".[31]




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  2. "'101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time' From WGA/TV Guide: Complete List". PMC. June 2, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  3. A. J. Jacobs (August 4, 1995). "Couch Trips". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  4. 1 2 "For Sale: 'Mary Tyler Moore House'". WCCO-TV. September 5, 2006. Archived from the original on June 13, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
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  11. Hartlaub, Peter (2004-01-15). "'Friends' challenge – finding right words to say goodbye". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  12. Zurawik, David (2004-05-14). "It's just hard to say goodbye". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
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  30. O'Connor, Mickey (September 16, 2002). "With 30 Emmys, Frasier breaks awards record – At the Creative Emmys, the Kelsey Grammer sitcom tops Mary Tyler Moore, while The Osbournes and Six Feet Under also get kudos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
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