Who Can Turn the World on With Her Smile?

The great actress and comedienne Mary Tyler Moore died on Wednesday. She got her start on television playing Laura on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and later starred in her own show, simply named, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

When my family moved to the Twin Cities in 1973 from Pakistan, the show was already a hit. Having lived outside of the US nearly all of my life, I knew little about life and culture here. Sitting down to watch the show with my family every weekend was an important piece of my “re-enculturation.” It was especially exciting to see my new hometown featured in the opening credits. It remains one of my favorite shows to catch on DVD.

Because the show was set in Minneapolis, it has always had a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans. Here’s what the Minneapolis StarTribune notes had to say:

In the process of creating a pop-culture icon, Moore and the show sold the Twin Cities as a progressive metropolis.

To this day, tourists cruise through the Kenwood neighborhood to catch a glimpse of the Victorian house where Richards resided during the show’s early seasons. In 2002, the city of Minneapolis and TV Land teamed up to erect a statue on the Nicollet Mall, commemorating the moment in the opening credits in which Richards hurls her tam in the air after a satisfying day of shopping.

In 1999, Entertainment Weekly named the shot as the second-greatest moment in TV history, behind only John Kennedy’s assassination and funeral.

StarTribune columnist James Lileks produced a short video on the impact the show had on our city. You can see it here.

Minnesota Public Radio also did a nice story yesterday on how Mary Tyler Moore made Minneapolis a star.

And just for memories, here is a clip of a scene that is often ranked as one of the greatest TV scenes of all time, from “Chuckles the Clown’s Funeral.” (email readers, go here to see the video)

Farewell, Mary! Thanks for the laughs, and for helping me adjust to live in America!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “Who Can Turn the World on With Her Smile?

  1. While I’m not a native Minnesotan, I’ve always had significant roots there and eventually attending the “U” and living there off and on for many years. Two days ago I was speaking with my cousin about the demise of the downtown Macy’s which had been Minnesota’s own Daytons prior. I worked in other retail downtown in the ’80’s after college on the street that Mary’s hat toss made famous. I commented on the meaning the show has for me. While I know MTM represented the changing world for women at the time, I appreciate her representing what it’s like to find one’s way professionally and personally, with all the ups and downs that “adulting” can entail. And who could resist the humor as your “Chuckles” link so aptly points out? Thank you for sharing your perspective as an expat and “third culture kid.” It says a lot that her show spoke to such a variety of people.

  2. I was a a very little girl (pre-K to K) when I watched MTM with my parents…at least I remember the show in general more than the plot/story line. 🙂 Recalling that show and MTM bring back fond memories and I think both the show and MTM were one of my mom’s favorite shows/actresses. (Carol Burnett and her show are right up there, too.) I suppose that my mom gravitated to the show because like Mary Richards, she was from MN, too, and they were about the same age, so Mom could relate in some way. Mom went Home almost 19 years ago. Remembering MTM brings back a flood of fun memories of Mom, too. Thanks for sharing the news bits and video clips.