This year, I’ll be writing a series of posts on the inspirational women who, throughout my life, have shaped who I am and how I think. This post is the first in the series.
Last week, I was sad to learn of the passing of one of my favourite actresses, Mary Tyler Moore. Mary Tyler Moore had a way of making you feel as though you knew her. It might sound strange, but when I heard the news of her passing, I was a little emotional, as though I’d lost a distant aunt or cousin.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
I recalled the times, when I was a child, that Mum and I would sit down to watch The Mary Tyler Moore show of an evening. We had little choice in what we watched – there was only one commercial channel and ABC in our country town. But we loved the Mary Tyler Moore show, so there was no other choice for us.
In the 1970’s, there were few positive role models for women, but Mary Tyler Moore was certainly one of them. In the show, she played Mary Richards, a sassy and single 30-something television producer based in Minneapolis. I thought she was so gorgeous. Her smile lit up the whole room. Other characters included her gruff boss – Lou Grant, Ted Baxter – the egotistical anchorman, Rhoda Morgenstern was Mary’s best friend, and the incredible Betty White played the eternally happy Sue Ann Nivens. Their humour was sharp, witty, cleverly written and delivered with punch. The characters in the show worked so well together and became so popular, there were three spin-off shows based on her friends and colleagues.
Despite the fact that Mary Richards was a fictional character, she made me realise that women can have a career and live a successful life. Living in a country town in the 1970’s, I had few female career role models. Most of our Mums were either homemakers or they worked in a family business. Nowadays, it’s taken for granted that women can have a career, family and live the lifestyle they desire. However, back in the 1970’s, it was a foreign concept to many people. Due to this and other acting parts which broke with the stereotypical gender roles, Mary Tyler Moore became somewhat of a cultural icon.
The Theme Song
When I heard her theme song, I’d rush to the lounge room to get comfy and watch the show. Í even remember the little “ding” at the very end of the song. I never get tired of hearing the song.
‘Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, it’s you girl and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement you show it. Love is all around, no need to waste it. You can have a town, why don’t you take it? You’re gonna make it after all. You’re gonna make it after all!
Mary Richards was so positive, upbeat, caring and inspirational in the show. It appears the actress was all those things in real life too. The award-winning actress was a philanthropist and was active in charity work, particularly around animal rights. Diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic, she was a powerful advocate for diabetes programs, and the long-time Chairperson of JDRF – A foundation to support research into juvenile diabetes.
She was among the first of a new wave of inspirational women, including Oprah Winfrey, who pursued their dreams and broke with the traditional female roles. She empowered a generation of young working women, including me.
In 2002, the City of Minneapolis, where her show was based, dedicated a statue of her TV character, depicting the iconic moment in the show’s intro where Mary tosses her hat in the air. Mary’s statue is located out the front of Macy’s Department Store.
Mary Tyler Moore is just one of many inspirational women who’ve shaped my life in some small way. Did she inspire you too?
Can you name one of the inspirational women who has shaped your life?
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