This week we lost a television icon, Mary Tyler Moore. I was driving through Utah when I stopped to get coffee and saw a tweet memorializing the star. I stopped dead in my tracks. I know at this point we should be getting used to icons and legends passing away since it seems to be a daily occurrence now, but this one stung a bit more for me.
When I was a kid, I would watch The Dick Van Dyle Show and Mary Tyler Moore on Nick-at-Night daily on my 13in black and white TV. It was part of my bedtime ritual. Just like brushing my teeth or getting into my pajamas, watching those shows meant time to go to bed.
As I got older, and my TV got bigger and colorized, Mary Tyler Moore was my version of Friends before Friends. Mary, Rhoda, Mr. Grant, Murray, Phyllis, Ted, Georgette and Sue Ann were often on in the background as I did other things growing up. Even though the show was "old" to me at the time, their was something calming and familiar hearing these characters chatter in the background of my life and I never got tired of seeing MTM smile and, even better, cry (MTM's cry is classic television!).
Although I didn't watch the show much later on in my life, I still always held a special place for this series in my heart. In fact, when I was closing down my first business, I actively was comparing my experience to the classic ending of MTM. It was a dramatic, typically M.J. comparison, but one that gave me a bit of comfort.
I often use Mary Tyler Moore as an example for why I want to be on television. Something very unique happens when you are on a TV show that has success. People start to feel like you are a friend, part of their family, or simply "one of them". You become part of their lives and, in very real ways, you help them get through the toughest days when what they need more than anything is an escape. You make them feel good and give them comfort in life.
I always say that if you saw some big movie star you like on the side of the road, you would get excited but probably just look and think, "OMG! It's (insert movie star name here)!" BUT- If you happened to see one of your favorite TV starts walking down the street, you would probably run over, maybe give them a huge hug, and talk to them as if they were an old friend. That is the power of TV. These actors and shows become part of your life and I think that is pretty damn cool. If I had seen MTM on the street, I definitely would have embraced her as someone who had been a part of my whole life and told her what she meant to me.
I want to be that person for others in life. I want to make people feel good and help them get through tough times. That is my ultimate goal and one I work toward every day.
Mary Tyler Moore turned the world on with her smile and that is a legacy to be proud of. I plan on continually finding the lessons and the humor in failing so I can help others handle their failures in a better way.
(Throwing hat in the air.)
RIP Mary Tyler Moore, forever immortalized as Mary Richards, Laurie Petrie and so many more.