Things You Didn’t Know About The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Everett Collection

The Mary Tyler Moore Show ran for seven seasons from 1970 to 1977 and was considered groundbreaking for its time because of its portrayal of women in the workplace. It received high praise from critics and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row. Since the show was so influential, we’ve compiled a list of 9 things most people don’t know about the award-winning series:

8. From Laura Petrie to Mary Tyler Moore

When Mary Tyler Moore was first approached to do The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she was hesitant because she feared that this new character would not be as popular with fans are her character on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which also aired on CBS. It didn’t help that test audiences couldn’t different her character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from her character on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

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7. Divorcée

Her character was initially going to be a divorcée, but divorce was still controversial at the time and CBS was afraid that viewers might think she had divorced her husband, Rob Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The premise of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was then changed so that her character was single after just having ended an engagement.

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6. Rhoda Was Too Attractive to Play Mary’s Friend

Producers didn’t want Valerie Harper to play Rhoda Morgenstern because they felt that she was too pretty and not frumpy enough to play Mary’s friend. However, they loved her performance, so they hired her anyway and dressed her in frumpy clothing to give her the look of the less attractive friend.

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5. Casting Ted Baxter

Producers created the role of Ted Baxter with Jack Cassidy in mind, but he turned it down because he had just played a buffoonish character on the sitcom He & She, and he didn’t want to get typecast. Ted Knight was then offered the role and Cassidy later came on the show to guest star as Ted’s brother.

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4. Changing Love Interests

Initially Ted Baxter was going to be Mary’s love interest and Lyle Waggoner was suggested for the part; however, Ted Knight then nailed the auditioned. He was in his 40s and considered too old for her, so then they considered making Lou Grant her love interested, but Moore vetoed that. Murray Slaughter – played by Gavin McLeod – was supposed to be gay and that’s how he was portrayed in the pilot; however, because of his and Mary’s chemistry, they made his character interested in her.

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3. Enemies

Gavin McLeod and Cloris Leachman were actually enemies in real life. They had worked together before and had a very bad experience. Cloris was actually really uncomfortable with Gavin for the first couple of seasons, but eventually they became friends.

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2. Cancellation

After seven seasons, Mary Tyler Moore and her husband at the time, Grant Taylor, decided to end The Mary Tyler Moore Show while ratings for the show were still strong. They felt that choosing to end it while it was still on a high was better than waiting for the show to be cancelled because of a dip in quality.

Everett Collection

1. Everyone Hated Rhoda

During the taping of the original pilot, the audience hated the character of Rhoda, who was played by Valerie Harper. They thought that she was too mean to Mary in the opening scene and that affected how they viewed the rest of the episode. To make Rhoda more likable, in the re-taping they had the daughter of Mary’s landlady say, “Aunt Rhoda’s really a lot of fun,” and that seemed to work. The audience laughed at the line and because Bess seemed to like Rhoda, the audience did too.

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Cate has a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature and has been the Managing Editor of Fame10 for more than 6 years. Despite having a love for the works of Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy and Lord Byron, she also has an intense fascination with pop culture. When she isn’t writing for Fame10, she’s planning her next big adventure in Southeast Asia.