Mary Tyler Moore Had Spunk, Style, and a Smile | The American Spectator

Mary Tyler Moore Had Spunk, Style, and a Smile
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Word is out that the wonderful, ever-lovable Mary Tyler Moore has died at age 80, after decades of “turn[ing] the world on with her smile.” She leaves behind two of the most winsome characters in television history — Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Richards in her own Mary Tyler Moore show. She also leaves a legacy of admirable, effective service on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and for humane treatment of animals. She endured her own diabetes, defeated alcoholism, recovered from a benign brain tumor, and, bravely got her life back together after her son accidentally shot himself to death while handling a defective shotgun. Perhaps she was no saint, but she handled most of her troubles with dignity and grace.

(And, not that it should matter, but she evolved from being a moderate liberal in the 1970s to what she called a “libertarian centrist” in the last 15 years, saying she supported John McCain for president in 2008 and was a fan of erudite conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.)

For those under age 50, or maybe 48, it might be hard to imagine just how big a deal Mary Tyler Moore was. The character she played in her eponymous sitcom was so eminently lovable (without ever being cloying, saccharine, or preachy) that women wanted to be her, men wanted to marry someone like her, and children had innocent crushes on her. Feminists latched on to her because she made the image of the “working woman” cool — but her paeans to women’s worth and dignity were gentle, likable, empathizable, rather than featuring some politicized in-your-faceness. Mary Richards inhabited neither extreme — not exactly a goody-two-shoes, but also far from some sort of wildly “liberated” woman — and largely exemplified modesty and wholesome approachability.

The interplay between her and her fictional boss Ed Asner was priceless. (“You have spunk,” said he. “Why, thank you, Mr. Grant,” said she, blushing. “I hate spunk,” he barked — leaving her looking hilariously, lovably crestfallen.) The fond friendship she had with coworker “Murray” (Gavin MacLeod) was a model of workplace drollery. And the opening of her show, with her spinning around and tossing a knit cap joyfully into the air, surely rivals the M*A*S*H opening as the best TV intro ever. As the song said, she really, truly sent the message that “love is all around, no need to waste it.”

As avid fans of her show (and its famous final episode) will understand, “it’s a long road to Tipperary.” But yes, Mary Tyler Moore made it after all. May she rest in peace, joy, and surely laughter.

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