As happy and joyous as every character she ever played was, Mary Tyler Moore suffered terrible tragedies throughout her life. In 1992, her brother passed away from a fatal disease, and then in 1993, her sister died too. She was very close with both her siblings.
But it was in 1995 when the worst tragedy happened – Moore’s son died from an accidental gunshot wound. Her son, Richie, was only 24 years old, and he was loading and unloading a small shotgun when it went off unexpectedly and killed him that instant. Shortly after, the weapon was taken off the market due to its faulty trigger, which they later determined was what caused the accident.
Mary Tyler Moore Started Her Career Selling Appliances
The star and name behind the hit show, Mary Tyler Moore became one of the most famous actresses of the decade. But many don’t know about Moore’s humble beginnings. At a young 17 years old, Moore did a dancing routine dressed as the Happy Hotpoint, the mascot of an appliance company called ‘Hotpoint Appliances.’
Moore shot 39 separate ads in a span of five days, which managed to make quite an impression on the commercial’s producers. Then, she got a job posing for album covers, and finally got her first TV role as a phone receptionist in “Richard Diamond, Private Detective,” in which only her legs and voice were featured.
Moore Fought for Her Right to Wear Pants
Even when she was on the more traditional “Dick Van Dyke Show,” Mary Tyler Moore always fought for women, forwarding feminist causes in any way she could. Before her strong feminist role in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the actress had already had her share of discussions when she was playing Dick Van Dyke’s wife on his show.
For instance, the typical fashion for women back then was wearing dresses, skirts, and pearls, but Moore said that this wasn’t realistic, since women also liked to wear pants. She went on to fight the show’s producers and studios for her right to wear pants on screen, and she won. Seeing an iconic character like Moore wear pants on TV generated a wave of change when it came to women’s fashion in the U.S.
The Show Was a Pioneer in Portraying Independent Women
Even though it wasn’t the first show of its kind, the popularity of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” made it all the more influential, since it was beloved across the country. It was one of the first American sitcoms to not only portray, but also celebrate an independent, smart, career-driven woman.
This was groundbreaking during an era where women were automatically confined to the household and to the task of raising children. An unmarried woman was unthought of, and a woman who wanted to work and support herself was even worse. Thanks to Moore’s show, this was no longer considered something wrong, but on the contrary, it inspired progressiveness amongst young women everywhere.
Critics Hated It at First
As happens with many successful shows, they’re often the target of very negative reviews when they first premiere. This was also the case with “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which even the prestigious ‘New York Times’ called “preposterous.” Other major magazines and critics were downright insulting, calling Rhoda a “Man-crazy klutz,” and saying that Mary’s character seemed “a bit desperate about being unmarried.”
The criticism went on, as Time Magazine called the show a disaster with “a drunken clown of a news director and a narcissistic nincompoop of an anchorman.” Moore and the entire cast of the show probably reveled with joy when thinking of these people’s faces when they realized the show had become one of the highest-grossing sitcoms in TV history.