Mary Tyler Moore was a ''happy actress'' on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Mary Tyler Moore had one of the most recognizable names in show business between 1961 and 1980. Not only did her name have a nice ring to it, but it also started popping up everywhere during her time on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961).
In a 1962 interview with Akron Beacon Journal, Moore said she would have described herself as one of the rarest creatures — "a satisfied actress." Moore, who was Dick Van Dyke's television wife, claimed she couldn't be happier doing anything else.
"Some day I'd like to be a big star, but now I'm satisfied to be working with such wonderful people on a television series," Moore said.
Those wonderful people included Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, Carl Reiner and many more who helped to make the series a huge success.
Moore was only a 24-year-old at the time and her only experience before Van Dyke's show was playing the role of Sam, a telephone operator, on Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1959) and a few other small roles.
The Dick Van Dyke Show changed her TV image. While still young herself, Van Dyke's show helped transform her into everyone's favorite housewife. Although the title itself doesn't sound very glam, Moore inspired many housewives across America — also inspiring the success of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In real life, Moore was married to Grant Tinker, the Vice President for NBC at the time. She also had a son of her own, named Richie, but with no relation to her onscreen son.
"When I read the script aloud around the house, Richie will come running up to me and say, 'Mommy, why did you call me?' Honest, I had nothing to do with the choice of names," Moore said.
According to the interview, Moore said they would rehearse five days a week and film on the sixth. According to Moore, the series filmed in front of a live audience because it "saved them from the laugh track." However, filming with a live audience came with its own set of issues for the cast and crew.
"We work in front of a live audience and it takes about two hours to get 30 minutes of film," Moore said. "If I blow a line, the director will explain it to the audience. Besides, it's been proven the home audience doesn't laugh as loud as the live audience, so we subtract laughter rather than add it."
She said she felt that the series' technique of on-stage filming had helped her a lot as an actress. She even said she had started becoming almost a "carbon copy" of Van Dyke after working with him for so long.
"When Dick makes a particularly funny face, I can feel myself imitating him," Moore said in an interview with Sunday News. "Dick has a certain way of standing, with his hands clasped, that I have unconsciously picked up. It's a little eerie to see yourself onscreen or in a photograph duplicating Van Dyke. Especially if your name is Mary Tyler Moore."
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