Mary Tyler Moore Explained Why She Didn’t Watch Many Female-Based Shows in 1999 Interview

by Jennifer Shea

Mary Tyler Moore was a trailblazing actress who became a role model for working women everywhere with her hit show “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” So it may surprise some people to learn that in the 1990s, amid a spate of shows about working women, she was no fan of the trend.

Moore died in 2017 at age 80. But while she was still alive, she gave an interview to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1999, four years after the publication of her autobiography, “After All.” At the time, she was performing her one-woman show, also titled “After All,” at a local theatre.

Moore’s character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a single woman. And most of what she disapproved of about those newer shows was that they often featured working mothers, Moore told the Post-Gazette.

Mary Tyler Moore Didn’t Buy the Working Mothers Trend

Moore’s interviewer asked if she watched any of the new shows about working women.

“First of all, I don’t stay up past 10:15!” Moore quipped. “No, I don’t. I’m not sure whether my personal beliefs have affected my viewing tastes or not, but I am one of those, and I’m sure Gloria Steinem would not like to hear this, but I truly do not believe that you can do both.”

“I don’t believe you can be a good mother, in other words be present, and have a career, particularly one that means something to you,” she elaborated. “You have to give so much that there is very seldom much left over for the child.”

Moore herself was a working mother. She had her only child, a son, Richie, at just 18. But Moore began finding work on TV when Richie was a toddler. And she divorced Richie’s father, her high school sweetheart, when her son was 6.

Moore Regretted Her Early Parenting Decisions

Moore clearly had some regrets about her parenting decisions. She blamed her early choices for her son’s later rebelliousness.

“I demanded a lot of Richie,” Moore said, according to People magazine. “I was responsible for a lot of alienation.”

Richie got into drugs when he was in high school, and apparently then got into trouble with a drug dealer. But Moore got him into treatment. And by age 24, he had begun to turn his life around.

“There is no question about it,” Moore wrote in “After All.” “By the time Richie was 5, I had already let him down. When he needed me the most, I was busier and even more self-concerned than I had been when he was an impressionable infant.”

Richie’s recovery process ended abruptly one night while he was watching TV in his bedroom and holding a gun known as the “Snake Charmer.” The gun went off suddenly, killing Richie.

A Los Angeles Coroner’s Office investigation found that his death was an accident. And that particular gun was later yanked from the market because it was unstable. But by then, it had already left a gaping hole in Moore’s life.

Moore reportedly answered many of the 6,000 condolence letters that poured in herself. And she told the Post-Gazette that one thing she’d learned from confronting her alcoholism is “it’s all right to feel pain.”