Wednesday, January 25, 2017

That Time I Met Mary Tyler Moore

In 2009, I met Mary Tyler Moore at a book signing in Las Vegas. It was for her then newly released book “Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes,” which I bought and stood in a long line to have her sign. When it was my turn, I said I was very happy to meet her and “you know what? I *like* spunk!” 

This, for folks who don’t know, was a reference to a moment on the first episode of her classic television sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which WJM-TV’s Six O
Clock News Producer Lou Grant (Ed Asner) said “You’ve got spunk” to Moore’s character, Mary Richards, during her job interview for Associate Producer. Mary blushed and said “Well…” but Mr. Grant (as she called him throughout the show’s run) interrupted by fiercely spouting out: “I hate spunk!”

Moore, and the people standing around us laughed at my pro spunk declaration, and that encouraged me to ask her: “What of the movies that you’ve made is your favorite?” She looked away and thought about it for a moment then replied “ORDINARY PEOPLE.” I almost jokingly said “What, not CHANGE OF HABIT?” referring to the silly yet very likable 1969 movie she made with Elvis Presley (which incidentally also featured Asner), but thankfully I thought better of it, and said (I think mumbled is more like it) something I don’t remember that I think was about how great she was in ORDINARY PEOPLE as she signed my copy of her book, then thanked her and left. Its a great memory that I’ve been randomly replaying in my head since I heard that she passed.

Coincidentally, in the last few months I’ve been re-watching episodes here and there of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Hulu. It’s one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, and it had been a long time since I watched the whole run (seven seasons) of it on Nick at Night so it
’s been fun to revisit. For those who haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it as I do her film of choice, Robert Redfords 1980 drama ORDINARY PEOPLE. Moore deservedly got an Oscar nomination for her performance, and the film itself won the Best Picture Academy Award.

Also recommended: Moore’s five seasons as the spunky, Capri-pants wearing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, her acerbic performance in David O. Russell’s FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, and, yes, her part as a nun who has to choose between Elvis and Jesus in CHANGE OF HABIT.

R.I.P. Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017)

More later...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She said several times in interviews that she actually enjoyed making "A Change of Habit" and really enjoyed working with Elvis. On TCM, she once said that Elvis tried to initiate a relationship with her and she joked that she regretted in later years not letting him follow through with that. FWIW.