During the show’s first five seasons, Moore’s character Mary Richards lived in an apartment inside an 1892 Queen Anne Victorian home. Producers had come to the homeowner, Paula Giese, and asked if they could use exterior shots of her gorgeous house. According to Paula, they said it was a one-time thing for a TV documentary, not for a sitcom that became a national hit.
After the show became a massive hit, fans came at all hours and even city tour buses stopped by her house to show fans where the famous Mary lived. Giese had enough, and when she was told that MTM would return to film more shots, she hung huge “Impeach Nixon” banners on the outside of her home. The stunt worked, and by the sixth season, Mary Richards moved into another apartment.
Ted Knight Didn’t Like Being Confused With His Character
As happy as Ted Knight was to have landed the role of Ted Baxter in such a massively successful sitcom, he grew tired of playing Baxter. Knight was tired of people assuming he was vain and dimwitted just because he played a character like that. One day, things got so bad, that Knight burst into one of the producers’ office crying in desperation, telling him he couldn’t play Baxter anymore.
Knight was fed up with being treated like a “schmuck” by people that thought he was like that in real life, especially since he was actually very smart and well-read. The producers consoled him and he powered through it. Luckily, his character acquired some depth as the show went on.
The Show Made Hazel Frederick Famous by Accident
You might be wondering who Hazel Frederick is, since she’s not an actress, a producer, a director, or an extra. Frederick was a woman doing her shopping in downtown Minneapolis one fine day in 1969, and she happened to be in the frame for Mary Tyler Moore’s famous hat toss in the middle of the street when they were filming the show’s famous intro.
Hazel is the woman with the handkerchief wrapped around her head looking straight at the camera that you see standing behind Moore in the last freeze frame of the show’s intro. Producers wanted the scene to look natural, so no passersby knew they were filming, and Hazel was one of many who had no idea why a pretty brunette had walked into traffic to toss a hat.
Actress Valerie Harper Almost Didn’t Play Rhoda
The beloved Rhoda Morgenstern became a fan favorite on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as she played Mary Richard’s upstairs neighbor and best friend. The character of Rhoda was written as an overweight, unkempt, self-made woman who had a great sense of humor and low self-esteem. So, in the eyes of the producers, they couldn’t cast an attractive actress.
When Valerie Harper, who was quite beautiful, came in to audition for the part, they loved her but thought she didn’t look right for the part. Even after Harper tried to “frump herself up a bit”, as requested by the producers, she was still too attractive. Ultimately, the producers rewrote the character to suit Harper.
The Male Cast Was Happy When Valerie Harper Left
Valerie Harper’s Rhoda became such a fan favorite on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” that by the fourth season, she got her own spin-off series. So, Harper left the show, and it became clear that the men in the cast weren’t at all sorry to say goodbye to her.
Not because they didn’t love working with her, since Harper was a genuinely nice and kind person, but because with Rhoda’s character gone, the show wouldn’t focus so much on “the girls” (Mary and Rhoda) anymore. This meant that the show’s action would now happen in the newsroom, therefore giving them more time on the screen.