Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sally, me, and the night The Mary Tyler Moore Show said goodbye

I saw this cartoon in the book, The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker. It reflects a time and place and show I remember very well.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is something I recall with fondness, because Sally and I watched it every week; we liked the characters, the writing was top-notch, the acting was wonderful. And most important, it was funny.

I had a crush on Mary Tyler Moore from her days with the Dick Van Dyke Show. I thought she was totally hot, but wasn’t prepared for seeing exactly how hot she really was when I saw her in person during the filming of an episode of that show in 1962. All of the cast members came out between scenes to entertain the audience. When it was Mary’s turn she used it to introduce her mother, father and sister, who were sitting a couple of rows from us. They all stood up and we clapped politely. I had that in mind a few years later when I read that Mary’s sister had committed suicide.

It was only natural that a few years later I caught her self-titled sitcom from its first episode and continued to follow it during its seven-year run. My crush on Mary remained throughout the life of that series.

The night the show had its last episode was March 19, 1977, the night after my son was born. David was born premature; both he and Sally were close to dying. Sally was very sick with toxemia. She was drifting in and out of consciousness for a couple of days after giving birth. But I sat in her hospital room with her and we both watched that final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. My own recollection jibes with the Wikipedia entry on “The Last Show (The Mary Tyler Moore Show).” I don’t know how much of that episode Sally remembers, but she does remember watching it with me, even in her state of drifting consciousness.

Some things are cultural icons for Americans, and the most popular sitcoms stand as icons. Surely The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which broke ground by showing an independent, beautiful woman in the workplace, is among the top comedies ever shown on American TV, and was part of an era when network television was what everyone watched. If true (and it is, at least in my estimation), then with The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore starred in two of the most influential, popular, and important situation comedies ever.

So, if your mind works like mine, going by when the show aired, the date on the New Yorker cartoon would be March 20, 1977.

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