The Death of Mary Tyler Moore and Simpler Times

I can’t stop thinking about Mary Tyler Moore. As I’m sure you know by now, she died this week at the age of eighty. Though Moore was a brilliant comedienne, her personal life was filled with a great deal of challenge and sorrow. She was raised by alcoholic parents who didn’t care well for her. At the age of 33 she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and would suffer complications as a result. She was married three times. Her son died at the age of 24 of an accidental gun shot wound. And she herself struggled with alcoholism.

And yet I can’t stop thinking about all the joy she brought into my life. I was too young to see the Dick Van Dyke Show when it originally aired. But I loved watching the reruns when I got home from school. And yet it was the Mary Tyler Moore Show that really had an impact on my formative years. It was a TV show that our entire family could watch together on those 70’s Saturday nights. I loved her spirit, her humor, her acting. She had a joie de vivre that was really incomparable.

And there was that theme song. It’s been going through my mind ever since I learned of her death. I can still see her tossing her hat into the air at the end of the show’s intro.

I can’t stop thinking about Mary Tyler Moore. She was an icon. But for me her death took me back to simpler times. We didn’t know the politics of the actors and actresses on the screen. There was no social media sometimes being used as a tool to beat down other views or other people. There were only three or four channels on our TV. The information age had not yet exploded. We simply enjoyed the simplicity of a good, old-fashioned, family-friendly comedy.

Not only has Mary Tyler Moore died. Simpler life has died as well. Life today is much more complicated. It seems much more divisive. Anger and fear seem to bubble much closer to the surface of our lives. The world is so much smaller, and yet in so many ways, so much more separated.

But I can’t rid myself of Mary’s happy-go-lucky attitude. I can’t help but tap into her positive attitude and her clever ways of dealing with Mr. Grant. Her great attitude and optimism might just be some of what we need in this much more complicated world. She’d want us to get along, and care for, and love one another, even difficult people like Ted Baxter.

And I can’t help but think that Mary would remind us: “We’re gonna make it after all.”

What do you remember about simpler times? 

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8 thoughts on “The Death of Mary Tyler Moore and Simpler Times

  1. The same thoughts have been on my mind since her death, Tom. I feel like I’ve turned into one of the ‘old’ people from my youth – looking back at (and longing for) the good old days and the simpler times. 🙂 I guess that means I’m officially old! TV shows of that time period influenced my life greatly. Great memories.

  2. You encapsulated the vibe and feel really well. It did seem simpler. I also remember Bob Newhart followed at 9:30pm, EST. Amazing how these shows survive, but All in the Family seems so dated because it was so overtly preachy.

    RIP Mary Tyler Moore. Your craft brought us so much joy.

  3. Good column Tom and great thoughts. Mary Tyler Moore and her hit show did a lot for the equality of women in the workplace. And the beauty of it is that it was in good taste and funny. Those simpler times were without the anger and attack-mode of today’s society at large. My wife’s only additional comment is that Mary could have talked more openly about her faith. But I guess she had a bad experience with that growing up.

  4. Tom, I believe you expressing exactly the sentiments of many of us that are “fifty-ish” or so. While we can’t go back to those simpler times, we can certainly control our own attitudes. Saturday night TV with my family was one of the highlights of the week-something we could do together with no worries about wha might pop up on the screen. Thank you for that brief walk down memory lane!

  5. Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore are two favorites of my teen aged kids. We ar doing are best to give our kids a taste of the simpler times.

    Great article, Tom.