Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore and Cloris Leachman.
The Mary Tyler Moore wore a brunette wig for the first season of her classic 1970s television sitcom.
“In those days Mary wanted to renounce what they had done,” says Herbie J Pilato, the founder of the Classic Tv Preservation Society.
“They wanted to leave” The Dick Van Dyke Show’ behind her.”
Moore had spent five seasons as housewife Laura Petrie before “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” debuted in 1970.
Her self-titled comedy about a newly single woman who moves to Minneapolis and lands a job as a TV news producer, ran for seven seasons on CBS.
It featured an iconic cast: Ed Asner (newsroom boss Lou Grant), Gavin MacLeod (writer Murray Slaughter), Ted Knight (anchorman Ted Baxter), Valerie Harper (neighbor and best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern ), Cloris Leachman (landlady Phyllis Lindstrom) and Betty White (“the Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens).
But both the producers and Moore were reportedly concerned that some viewers might be confused and think that the new comedy was a continuation of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and that the Petries had separated.
“The Dick Van Dyke never appeared as a guest star during the whole run,” Pilato notes, “but his brother, Jerry Van Dyke, was in a few episodes.”
Pilato points out that many of the future sitcom star early career guest spots on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” including Vic Tayback (“Alice”) and John Ritter (“Three’s Company”).
Here are a few fun facts about one of TV’s most beloved television series:
Then First Lady Betty Ford appeared as herself in the autumn of 1976. Eight years later, Moore checked into the Betty Ford Clinic near Palm Springs, California, do you have the address of a drinking problem.
Story behind the theme song
The show’s theme song, “Love Is All Around,” written and performed by Sonny Curtis, who replaced Buddy Holly as lead singer of The Crickets, and also written in the 1960 classic, “I Fought The Law (And The Law Won).”
Valerie Harper almost lost the role of Rhoda, because she was too nice! The producers were concerned that they might take too much attention away from the tone that the title of stars. Harper, 31, got the job anyway and landed her own spin-off series a few years later.
The change of roles
Gavin MacLeod originally read for the role of Lou Grant, before he was cast as a news writer Murray Slaughter. “Lou Grant was wonderful, but I would not believe that I put myself into that role,” he said to CNN in 2013. “But Murray, I thought that I could do something with him.”
Ed Asner and Moore had a quarrel about politics. “She has changed,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2011. “She is a Republican. The last time I saw her, she said Sarah Palin was a great lady.”
Ted Knight’s real name
Ted Knight was diagnosed with cancer months after the end of the “market VALUE” and died on August 26, 1986. The grave marker at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, carries his birth name,Theodore C. Konopka, and the words “Bye Man.”
In the opening scene, Moore is seen throwing her hat in the air, on the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Many of the buildings in the background were destroyed by a massive block-long fire in November 1982.
In addition, Moore’s apartment at 119 North Weatherly Avenue was a popular tourist attraction in Minneapolis for years. Fans of the show can now have photos next to a statue of the show’s stars on the Minneapolis Visitor Information Center.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” brought three successful spin-offs of the main characters: “Rhoda,” “Phyllis” and “Lou Grant.” “Lou Grant was the first one hour drama to be spun off from a 30-minute sitcom,” Pilato comments.