MARY TYLER MOORE: AN INNOVATOR OF WOMEN ON TELEVISION
With the July 14th announcement of Emmy nominees approaching, I have been inspired to look into the past and appreciate some of the finest leading ladies to grace our homes—both with laughter and drama. We’ll be spotlighting these ladies to remind you all why women have always been (and will always be) a driving force in the history of television.
Who better to spotlight first than Mary Tyler Moore, who with ten nominations and five wins is at the top of our Emmy winners chart! Moore began her career at the age of seventeen dancing as an elf for Hotpoint appliances TV commercials. Her first role in a television show was on Richard Diamond, Private Detective, in which Moore played a hot and mysterious receptionist. Although this was the first time she was seen in a recurring role, the only thing audiences could actually see were her legs—very scandalous.
Moore’s big break was when she was cast at the age of twenty-four in The Dick Van Dyke Show as Van Dyke’s wife. Audiences couldn’t ignore Moore’s incredible comedic performances, bringing her into the spotlight of international fame (and her first Emmy win as Laura Petrie). After winning her first Emmy, Moore was quoted saying, “I know this will never happen again” (that’s ironic).
In 1970 Moore and her husband Grant Tinker created a new comedy: The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show was a half-hour newsroom sitcom, featuring Moore as a Mary Richards, a thirty-something news producer in Minneapolis. The Mary Tyler Moore Show started the on-going comedy series trend of working girl vs. girl at home (I guess we know who to thank for comedies like Sex and the City, and we are VERY appreciative).
After seven seasons Moore’s show won three Emmys for outstanding comedy series and Moore herself gained three lead actress wins as well. She transformed the way women are portrayed on television, allowing the working girl to be seen as a woman both of power, beauty and some amazing comedic chops.