Of all the celebrity deaths recently, Mary Tyler Moore’s might be hitting me the hardest–as much an impact as something like this can really have, anyway.
When I was a kid, there was no better sound to my ears than my mom’s laugh. It was an utter burst of audible joy that filled the house, and my heart (When momma’s happy…right?). Not to get too psychoanalytical, but I think the reason I’ve always liked to try and make people laugh is because, in the beginning, I always used to like to make HER laugh. Right up til her last days, that laugh was always the best seal of approval I could ever imagine. Anyway, while my stuff was certainly never guaranteed to earn one of her guffaws (just like always, with me), two things were: the Carol Burnett Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. So for a stretch there in the mid-70s, even if I wasn’t the cause, I could count on hearing at least a couple of those hearty, wall-shaking bursts of laughter a week, the kind that would bring you from another room to see what the hell was so damned funny. Carol, Mary, Tim Conway, Ted Knight (aka Ted Baxter)…for what seemed like a stretch of forever in the early 70s, those four NEVER failed to bust her up, and in so doing, they never failed to make me smile. But more than laughter, I think my mom appreciated Mary’s independence. My mom was from a different era. She grew up poor during the depression. And while she worked in a shipyard during World War Two (like a lot of women), when that was over, she married, raised a family and never went to college, never really held another job. And I think–no, I know–she always felt that she missed out on something. It’s why she encouraged and was later so proud of her two daughters-my sisters-for the successful, educated lives they created for themselves. So, even though she tuned in because Mary made her laugh, my mom also tuned in because she admired the character, Mary Richards, and what she represented to all young women coming of age in the early 1970s.
On behalf of myself AND my mom….here’s to you, Mary Tyler Moore. RIP.
PS…here’s that Chuckles the Clown scene–one television’s funniest ever. Enjoy 🙂