Thanks For The Laughs, Mary Tyler Moore

Jan 25, 2017

Even Chuckles the Clown is mourning this sad day.

Actress Mary Tyler Moore – who starred in two iconic TV series, and produced many shows including “WKRP in Cincinnati” – died Wednesday at age 80.

Ted Knight, Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore in 1977.
Credit CBS Television

Her break-though role was playing the wife on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-66) sponsored by Procter & Gamble the first season.

In 1970, she turned our world on with a smile as unmarried career TV newswoman Mary Richards in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77), one of the greatest TV sitcoms ever.

Moore surrounded herself with an excellent cast, including gruff Ed Asner (“You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk”), Ted Knight as the airhead anchorman and Betty White as the snarky “Happy Homemaker.”

They were all there at the funeral for TV station co-worker “Chuckles the Clown” on Oct. 25, 1975, when Mary couldn’t stop laughing as the minister repeated Chuckles’ familiar phrase: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” The “Chuckles Bites The Dust” episode was ranked No. 1 on TV Guide’s “100 Greatest Episodes Of All Time” list in 1997.

Moore and her husband Grant Tinker, later an NBC Entertainment executive, produced “Mary Tyler Moore” through their MTM Enterprises, along with “The Bob Newhart Show” (1972-1978), “Rhoda” (1974-1978), “Phyllis” (1975-1977), “The Tony Randall Show” (1976-1978), “Lou Grant” (1977-1982), “Betty White Show” (1977-1978), “WKRP” (1978-1982), “Hill Street Blues” (1981-1987), “St. Elsewhere” (1982-1988), “Newhart” (1982-1990)” and dozens of other shows.

Moore with Dick Van Dyke and Larry Matthews on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1963.
Credit CBS Television

Moore, who was diagnosed as a diabetic in her 30s, also was nominated for an Academy Award for her dramatic role in “Ordinary People” in 1981. Her film credits included “Six Weeks,” “Just Between Friends,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Change of Habit” with Elvis Presley.

She also starred in several short-lived TV comebacks: “Mary,” ‘Annie McGuire,” “New York News” and the “Mary Tyler Moore Hour” variety show in 1979 -- with young sidekicks David Letterman and Michael Keaton.

She knew how to turn the world on with a smile. Thanks for all the laughs. And Chuckles too.