There are great television shows, and then there are the greatest shows of all time. Mary Tyler Moore helped make two shows into the greatest of all time with The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
The biggest fear going into the production of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was that the show was to surround Mary’s character moving to a new city after a divorce. There was thought that people would believe that Mary’s character from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura, had left Dick Van Dyke’s Rob. With divorce still being a taboo topic in 1970 the decided to make Mary Richards move away after an engagement ended. Mary Tyler Moore took it another step when she wore a wig for the first season to make sure her character stood out from Laura. Subsequent seasons she did away with the wig, and it was never mentioned.
When you look at the who’s who of entertainment that is the cast of the program, there is no wonder left as to it was a huge success. Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, and Gavin McLeod all came from big film and TV backgrounds.
It was a strange dynamic behind the scenes as people thought that Leachman and Harper hated each other because of their onscreen rivalry. Nothing could be further from the truth as they were and remain close. On the flip side, Leachman and McLeod were not fans of each other during the filming for the first few seasons. They had worked together in the past and had a bad experience. It could say so bad that Leachman didn’t want to be on the same set as him when she didn’t have to be. They eventually talked it out and became close friends. Ted Knight and Ed Asner were another pairs that people thought were at each other’s throats due to being onscreen enemies. They were very close; that is until a big falling out after the series. No one knows the circumstances on why they fell out only Asner would say Knight had “wronged him”. When Knight was stricken down with cancer in 1985, he called for Asner and the two reconciled at his deathbed.
In one of the most famous casting choices of all time, when the producers were looking for someone to play Sue-Anne Nivens they kept rejecting auditions saying they wanted someone “like Betty White”. It wasn’t until production was about to start that someone finally said: “Why not cast Betty White?” Originally her character was only supposed to be in one episode but White being an amazing comedic actress was quickly made a series regular.