No one will ever forget “Love Is All Around,” the iconic theme song from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” written by musician Sonny Curtis. But the backstory of how it came to be is actually quite interesting. It turns out that Curtis learned about the new show through a friend of his working at CBS, who sent Curtis a synopsis. The musician was so inspired by the story that he began writing a song based on the plot.
Curtis then met with the show producer James L. Brooks and told him he had written something for the show. Brooks informed him that they weren’t looking for a theme song yet, to which Curtis simply got his guitar out and started singing his lyrics. Brooks was so impressed that he hired him.
The Writers Got Lectured by Gloria Steinem
In an attempt to further learn about their target audience and the importance of feminism in general, the writers at MTM Enterprises were invited to a 70s panel discussion that was moderated by legendary woman’s rights activist Gloria Steinem. The production team thought it would be a good idea for the people behind the show to better understand the powerful feminist movement that was taking the country by storm.
No one could have imagined that Steinem herself would publicly embarrass one of the show’s chief producers, James L. Brooks. Apparently, Steinem criticized him in front of the entire audience for the fact that, whenever male colleagues would address their boss Lou Grant on the show, they called him “Lou,” but whenever Mary called his attention, she had to say “Mr. Grant.”
Moore’s TV Mother was Disappointed
For two episodes, actress Nanette Fabray played the role of Mary Richards’ mother on the show. But we never really saw her again after that. In reality, Fabray told a reporter of Emmy TV Legends during an interview that she was “greatly disappointed” that she only appeared for two episodes. Fabray was deeply offended that she wasn’t called back after her performance.
She further expressed how she genuinely thought she would turn into a regular cast member on the show after those first two episodes. Fabray even called Moore at one point and confronted her about it! Luckily, Fabray had a stellar acting career that lasted for over seven decades.
Mary’s Apartment Became a Minneapolis Tourist Attraction
The exterior shots of Mary Richards’ lovely apartment in Minneapolis were actually from a beautiful Victorian home in the city. No one, especially the house owners, could have ever imagined how wildly popular “The Mary Tyler Show” would become.
At the peak of the show’s success, one of the owners said “The house turned out to be Minnesota’s version of Graceland,” and explained how people from all over the nation would park on their front lawn just to catch a glimpse of Mary. Also, people could come and throw hats in the air in front of the house, in reference to Mary’s iconic hat toss in the show’s opening credits.
Moore Wasn’t Convinced on Ed Asner
Actor Ed Asner landed the coveted role of executive producer Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but it wasn’t without its hurdles. Firstly, Asner didn’t do well in the first audition but had the motivation to go back and audition a second time, which landed him the role. However, Asner found out years later that despite that successful second try, Mary Tyler Moore was not convinced.
She had asked the show’s producers if they were sure about what they were doing when they hired Asner. It wasn’t anything personal, as Moore would explain years later, it was simply because she didn’t see the actor as the Lou Grant she had pictured in her head. Luckily, it all worked out wonderfully.