To honor the 45th anniversary of the premiere of the greatest sitcom of all time, PBS will air “Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration” Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. EST.
Cloris Leachman and Robert Moore, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1984 at 54. Moore won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play for "The Boys in the Band" in 1968.
In preparation for the occasion, NextAvenue's Chris Hewitt wrote a loving tribute to the show, which sounds like it could have been a chapter out of my memoir:
["The Mary Tyler Moore Show"] is, for instance, the first place I realized there was such a thing as gay people, many years before I would figure out I was one. When we talk about sitcoms that broke social ground in the 1970s, All in the Family (the Saturday-night lead in to MTM) is the one that usually comes up, but I suspect it’s MTM, in its gentler way, that had the bigger impact. I know for sure it made a difference to little, didn’t-know-he-was-gay, me when the musician brother of Mary’s neighbor, Phyllis, visited Minneapolis and, to Phyllis’s chagrin, started spending a lot of time with her arch-enemy (and Mary’s best friend), Rhoda. Phyllis spends much of the “My Brother’s Keeper” episode moping about her sibling’s attachment to Rhoda, which Rhoda is happy to play along with until the concluding moments of the episode. At that point, Phyllis is convinced they’re going to marry and Rhoda counters that a marriage could never happen because, as she says matter-of-factly, “He’s gay. I thought you knew.” Phyllis, of course, is delighted. When All in the Family tackled a gay character, Archie said something homophobic to a super-macho gay man he unknowingly befriended, then discovered the man was gay and then everyone else hugged the guy while Archie sputtered and we all learned an obvious lesson about tolerance that Archie forgot by the next week’s episode. On MTM, the message is so subtle you could almost miss it, unless you were a kid who was starting to figure out he was different, too: Gay is OK and, frankly, not a big deal. It would take me decades to believe that sentiment completely, but MTM was on it in 1973, when blatant homophobia was still considered perfectly OK on TV and in the real world.Read the full piece HERE.