Happy 50th Anniversary to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

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Author Herbie J Pilato poses between copies of his book, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY

“You’ve got spunk!”

So says Lou Grant, as played by the great Ed Asner, upon first meeting Mary Richards, portrayed by the one and only Mary Tyler Moore, in “Love Is All Around,” the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

That episode, the title of which was taken from the show’s beloved theme song, composed and performed by Sonny Curtis, premiered 50 years ago tonight, on September 19th, 1970.

But what many do not know or remember is that The Mary Tyler Moore Show did not debut on a Saturday night, but a Tuesday. And the show was titled simply Mary Tyler Moore for this first episode. With its premiere, Mary not only began to “turn the world on with her smile” — another famous phrase from the opening theme — but to boost the Women’s Liberation Movement in the process.

That wasn’t part of the show’s initial intention, but that’s exactly what happened. Countless women were inspired to become independent and career-oriented, specifically in journalism, because of the strength shown by the character of Mary Richards. Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric, in particular, have said that they were motivated by Mary Richards.

It’s also interesting to note that, when The Mary Tyler Moore Show was formulating, Mary Richards had been envisioned as a divorcée who moved to Minneapolis to start a new life. But that backstory was changed to having recently broken up with a fiancé instead. Why? Objections were made by studio and network executives, and a few test audiences, who felt Mary Tyler Moore should not play a divorced woman.

Many felt the audience would assume Mary had divorced Dick Van Dyke’s Rob Petrie, the TV spouse she played opposite as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. But either way, Mary still had “spunk,” and The Mary Tyler Moore Show went on to soar in the ratings during it seven-year run. It hasn’t been off the air since.

Read about it all, and Moore’s extensive life and career before, during and after The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, my in-depth biography of the beloved actress, published by Jacobs/Brown Press.

In celebration of The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s 50th Anniversary (9/19/20), the hardcover edition of MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY is on sale now for only $19.95. Click the link below, and order your copy today!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0999507842/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_thcv_p1_i0

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Herbie J Pilato writes about pop-culture, stays positive, and hosts THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, a TV talk show on Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime UK.

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