Before she landed her famous role as Laura Petrie in “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Mary Tyler Moore auditioned for a part in the 1953 Danny Thomas hit series “Make Room for Daddy.” Thomas was one of the 50s’ most famous actors and singers, and his show lasted for a wildly successful eleven seasons and spawned several spin-offs that became equally as famous.
Moore didn’t land the role she wanted, but when Dick Van Dyke called his friend Danny Thomas for advice on who to cast for a role, Thomas recommended “the girl with three names.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Show Featured a First Lady
By 1976, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” had become a symbol for women’s rights, so much so that the president’s wife, Betty Ford, who also championed women’s rights, made a cameo in season six. In the episode, called “The Seminar,” Lou Grant takes Mary on a trip to a politics seminar in Washington and tries to impress her with his former contacts.
U.S. First Lady Betty Ford made a cameo that spiked the episode’s ratings. Decades later, Mary Tyler Moore said she’d gotten to know Betty Ford and had immense admiration for her. Moore, who had a problem with alcohol in her later years, actually checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in Minnesota.
Moore was the Second Cast Member to Pass
At 80 years old, the beloved Mary Tyler Moore was the second cast member of the show to pass away, on January 25, 2017. Her family and friends paid beautiful tributes to the woman who had dedicated her life to helping others and fighting for women’s rights. The first cast member of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to pass away was Ted Knight, who died in 1986.
As for the rest of the show’s main cast, Valerie Harper passed in 2019, and Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, and Betty White all passed away of old age in 2021. Each talented actor was honored for their stellar careers and their life-long legacies to their loved ones.
The Show’s Script Made History
Another major landmark of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” came up in an interview years later with two of the show’s stars. In a 2013 interview with Cloris Leachman and Valerie Harper, the actresses recounted that “Mary Tyler Moore” was the first show in television history to ever use the word “gay” to refer to homosexuality on screen.
During an episode in the show’s third season, “My Brother’s Keeper,” Phyllis invites her brother Ben to visit her, and she is excited to set him up with Mary. However, much to her chagrin, she notices that Ben is getting along with Rhoda, who ultimately reveals to Phyllis that there’s nothing going on because her brother is gay.
Moore Had an Episode Rewritten
For the 20th episode of the show’s first season, titled “Hi!”, Mary Richards goes to the hospital for a tonsillectomy and has to share a room with an extremely grumpy patient. However, the original script meant for Mary to have a tattoo removed, not her tonsils.
When Moore read the script, she outright refused, saying that even if it was fictitious, she couldn’t have anything to do with tattoos because she was “a good catholic girl.” The producers had no other choice than to come up with something else and rewrite the scene. A tonsillectomy seemed like the simplest choice.