“I’m Mary Tyler Moore and I am…an actress, an animal lover, the chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Reseach Foundation, the wife of Dr. Robert Levine, and…I don’t want to give away the whole story from the vert start. Suffice it to say there are a lot of ways to end that sentence, and I don’t think I’ve come close to living through all the possibilities, thank heavens. But what I do know is that in every role I am a devotee of laugher and tears, committed to expressing the nuances of each.”
Mary Tyler Moore
Growing Up Again:Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes
Opening of Chapter 2
That iconic freeze frame of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat in the air as Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a peak moment in her life. It was her Rocky running up the steps moment.
In a Facebook-centric world we’re great at putting filters on photos and our lives. We’re good a promoting our victories and happy moments. But our tears and struggles we’re not so good at talking about. (And when we do we know they won’t get as many likes.)
When Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014 it was surprising for people to learn about his struggles. He was known for his laughter. But it reminded me the suicide of Freddie Prinze back in 1977. He was a successful stand-up comedian turned even more successful sitcom actor. Yet just months after signing a $6 million five-year deal with NBC the 22-year-old took his life. Depression, drugs, and divorce were the flip side of a man who made many laugh.
Moore, who died last week at 80, was a survivor. She too made many laugh and reached incredible entertainment heights in the sixties and seventies with her comedic Emmy-winning abilities and then received an Oscar nomination for her serious role in Ordinary People (1980). A devotee of laugher and tears.
A life shaded by getting married at 19 to flee her alcoholic parents. She later not only divorced her first husband, but her son from that marriage died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 24. Moore also had her own struggles with alcohol. And just before her run with The Mary Tyler Moore Show began she discovered she had stage 1 diabetes.
Since this is a blog on screenwriting let me just say that’s what a three-dimensional life looks like. When we read a script or see a movie or Tv show where we see three-dimensional characters it resonates with us because it reflects our lives.
I’ll close with this excerpt from Moore’s book Growing Up Again: