Ted Knight's character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a lot like him
Image credit: The Everett Collection
The Mary Tyler Moore Show had seven iconic seasons on television from 1970 to 1979. The '70s sitcom featured big names in Hollywood including Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod and Valerie Harper.
Mary Tyler Moore, who played the role of Mary Richards, was the star of the show, as the title may suggest. But there were many other actors who helped make The Mary Tyler Moore Show the success it was.
Ted Knight, who played the role of Ted Baxter, was one of those actors. He became a beloved part of the series. In addition to the happiness, fame, wealth and health the series provided Knight, it also gave him the opportunity to put some of himself into a character.
In fact, he was such a fan-favorite on the series that his hometown of Terryville, CT, honored him in 1976. According to an interview with The Greenville News, his hometown created a "Ted Night Day" and celebrated him as the Terryville "Man of the Year."
"I'll never forgive Mary Tyler Moore for doing this to me," Knight said. "There I am sitting in my home looking over the ocean, economically secure for life, my marriage intact, my children happy, my future good. I'll never forgive her for doing this to me in only seven years."
Knight devoted years of his life to preparation for his role as the pompous newscaster on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He even had a succession of radio and television jobs at local stations on the East Coast.
"Sometimes I don't know when I'm Knight or Baxter," Knight said. "And the people expect that. It would be foolish of me not to use him. He's pure gold. I'll be Baxter, at least a part of me will be Baxter, until the day I die."
The Baxter effect could be seen all over the country, too. According to the interview, Knight couldn't go anywhere without finding someone just like Baxter — on purpose.
"Everywhere I go, including among TV executives, people say, 'We've got a guy here just like you,'" Knight said. "The anchormen have shown exquisite taste to pattern themselves after Baxter."
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