Fresno Beehive

Mary Tyler Moore leaves classic comedy legacy and some links to Fresno


Mary Tyler Moore has died at the age of 80 a result of cardiopulmonary arrest because of pneumonia. Moore also battled Type 1 diabetes for 50 years.

Moore leaves behind a memorable television comedy legacy. It starts with “The Dick Van Dyke Show” from 1961-1966 and continues through her own self-titled series from 1970-77.

Both shows prove that strong writing delivered by great characters creates humor that is ageless. I defy you to watch the episode of the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” show where her character, Mary Richards, has to deliver a eulogy for Chuckles the Clown after his absurd death and not laugh.

That’s just one example of all the great laughs Moore gave us over the decades. The Television Critics Association presented its recent Heritage Award to “The Mary Tyler Moore” show for the tremendous cultural and social impact it has had on society

Most of us knew back when “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was originally airing that Rob Petrie had married way out of his league with Laura Petrie as played by Moore. She seemed too talented and beautiful for him.

She had the magical ability to make a simple line like “Oh, Rob” get across so many different emotions.

Her success wasn’t limited to her TV appearances. With Grant Tinker, whom she married in 1962, they formed MTM Enterprises. They would produce such hits as “Lou Grant,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Hill Street Blues.” MTM also produced the “Fresno” miniseries.

That’s not her only link to Fresno. Moore’s first husband, Richard Carleton Meeker Sr. (who worked at the local CBS affiliate in the late 60s), and her son, Meeker Jr., lived in Fresno for a short time. The youngster spent two years attending Fresno public schools.

Moore returned to TV multiple times with shows like “Mary” and “Annie McGuire, but none was able to match the combination of writing and characters that made up her two classic shows.

The one thing that can be said about all of Moore’s work is that she showed real spunk. It might get an argument from her “Mary Tyler Moore Show” boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner) but in the case of Moore, I love spunk

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1