‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’: One Star Said Being with Cast was ‘Seven Years on the Yellow Brick Road’

by Jennifer Shea
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“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” may take its title from its lead actress. But it really was an ensemble sitcom as often as it was a vehicle for its star. Who could forget Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), the genially pompous anchor of the nightly news? Or Mary’s upstairs neighbor and best friend Rhoda (Valerie Harper)?

And after all, who could forget Mary’s boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner)? The gruff news veteran who concluded her job interview by observing that she had spunk… and “I hate spunk!”?

The show became so popular that two of its cast members, Harper and Asner, went on to their own spinoff shows. But before they did, they had a great time portraying colleagues in a fictional newsroom. The colleagues were joined occasionally by Mary’s neighbor Rhoda and her landlord Phyllis (Cloris Leachman).

Ed Asner Remembers ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Co-Stars Fondly

In a 2009 interview with PopEntertainment.com, Asner described his favorable initial impressions of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the ensuing seasons of the show. It didn’t disappoint.

“All I knew was the character I was asked to play was one of the most exciting characters I had been offered in the nine years I had been in Hollywood,” Asner recalled. “As I saw succeeding scripts [I] was delighted by their craftsmanship and their humor. I thought it didn’t matter if they cancelled us after the first thirteen [episodes] or not. I will at least have had this opportunity to do this type of quality.”

And Asner really loved his castmates on the show. He told PopEntertainment.com that the show’s tenure, which lasted from 1970 to 1977, was like traveling through Oz with trustworthy buddies at your side.

“They were fantastic,” Asner said. “It was seven years on the yellow brick road. We would resort to petty jealousies and minor paranoia from time to time, but nothing that was ever major or dominated.”

The legendary actress trended on Twitter this week after the BBC Breaking News Twitter account tweeted Mary Tyler Moore’s death. That came about four years after she actually died, on Jan. 25, 2017.

“An earlier tweet about the death of Mary Tyler Moore in 2017 was sent from @BBCBreaking due to a technical error. This has subsequently been removed,” the BBC World account tweeted soon thereafter.

In a screengrab of the since-deleted tweet saved by The Wrap, the BBC announced that Moore had died at age 80. That is how old she was at the time of her death in 2017. It said her publicist had confirmed the news.

The mistake led Twitter users to post tributes, memorials and reminiscences of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as Moore’s name trended. Moore may be gone. But she is clearly not forgotten, least of all by Asner.

Outsider.com