In Her Own Words: Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler MooreIt may have just been a line in a TV theme song, but it was true: Mary Tyler Moore could turn the world on with her smile.

Hollywood lost another legend today, as Moore passed away at the age of 80.  While her career included turns on Broadway and in films — she earned an Oscar nomination for 1980’s Ordinary People — she’s best remembered for the two legendary TV comedies she starred in: The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The two roles couldn’t have been any more different.  Laura Petrie was a loving wife and mother who was rarely seen outside the family’s home.  Mary Richards, on the other hand, was a single career woman who famously struggled to find a good man (or throw a good party, for that matter).  But Moore brought the same charm and charisma to both of the iconic characters.

While The Dick Van Dyke Show was, in every way, a conventional ’60s sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was groundbreaking.  When it premiered in 1970, a strong, independent working woman was a TV rarity.  And while Mary Richards excelled as the associate news producer at WJM-TV and developed a strong camaraderie with her co-workers, her personal life was just as noteworthy.  At a time when most women on TV were defined by their relationships with men, Mary Richards’ most noteworthy relationships were with other women — her best friends and neighbors Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman), and boyfriends rarely lasted more than an episode or two.

All of those elements put together resulted in a show that was as revolutionary as it was funny, and when we spoke to Mary Tyler Moore a few years ago, she told us people were drawn to the show for all those reasons.  (Click on the media bar below to hear Mary Tyler Moore)

At a time when the Women’s Lib movement was gaining strength, many young women looked up to Moore’s character as a role model — though she never intended for it to be viewed that way.  (Click on the media bar below to hear Mary Tyler Moore)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired as part of CBS’s Saturday night lineup for seven seasons, and a total of 168 episodes were produced.  With so many classic half-hours to choose from, which were her favorites?  (Click on the media bar below to hear Mary Tyler Moore)

The show’s 1977 finale is generally regarded as one of the best swan songs in TV history, and the cast’s tears were real.  Many of them, including Moore herself, were hoping the show would go on.  However, the show’s creators — James L. Brooks and Allan Burns — had other ideas.  (Click on the media bar below to hear Mary Tyler Moore)

After her namesake show went off the air, Moore briefly returned to TV in 1978 with a variety series (Michael Keaton and David Letterman were part of the show’s supporting cast), then again in 1985 with the short-lived sitcom Mary (from the creators of Cheers) and in her final series, New York News, in 1995.  But she stayed busy with other pursuits.

She went from filming Ordinary People (which won her a Golden Globe Award) back to Broadway, and she won a Tony Award for her work in Whose Life Is It Anyway?  And after winning three Emmy Awards (out of seven nominations) for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she picked up one final Emmy in 1993 for her supporting role in the TV movie Stolen Babies.

She may have made her mark as a comedienne, but Mary Tyler Moore was a woman of class, elegance, and substance.  Though she didn’t set out to become a role model, she handled it with grace and dignity.  She was a warm-hearted soul, and we looked forward to speaking with her every chance we got.  While today’s younger TV audiences may not understand the cultural significance of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when it aired, they can see echoes of the show in almost every workplace ensemble comedy that followed, and in sitcoms featuring strong female leads.

While we say goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore today, we’ll be celebrating her contributions to both TV and American culture for generations to come.  It’s a long way to Tipperary, Mary… may you rest in peace.

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Posted by: AC

A Lot More Than Leia: Remembering and Appreciating Carrie Fisher

Carrie FisherBy now, you’ve no doubt heard the tragic news of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  Here at Hollywood Outbreak, we’re feeling the loss a little more intensely than most, because we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with her on numerous occasions.  We always found her to be friendly, smart, engaging, and witty in our conversations, and it saddens us to think we’ll never have that opportunity again.

Instead of reeling off a list of her numerous accomplishments as an actor, author, and respected Hollywood script doctor (among other things), we would rather present Carrie Fisher’s life in her own wise and wonderful words.

Born in 1960 to one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrity couples — beloved movie star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher — it would seem to be a natural thing for Carrie to aspire to a career in show business.  But, as it turns out, watching her mother’s experience with stardom initially turned her off to the idea. (Click on the media bar to hear Carrie Fisher)

As we all know, though, fate had other plans for Carrie.  After playing a small role in Warren Beatty’s 1975 film Shampoo, she was cast as the female lead in the movie that would change Hollywood forever: Star Wars.  At the time, it was a movie that came with modest expectations… and difficult dialogue! (Click on the media bar to hear Carrie Fisher)

Of course, once the Star Wars franchise had made her a household name, Carrie was able to indulge her first love: writing.  It started as a way for her to escape a troubled home life (her parents went through a very public — and very messy — divorce when she was young), but eventually became a lucrative second career for her. (Click on the media bar to hear Carrie Fisher)

One of the reasons for her success — both on the stage and on the page — was that she always exuded sincerity.  It’s what made her characters so believable and her stories so intriguing.  And for somebody who had led such a trouble life, such blunt honesty was a rare thing to see, but she never, ever shied away from it. (Click on the media bar to hear Carrie Fisher)

While her written words and performances will live on forever, the world won’t be the same without her.  We looked forward to every new project she did, because that meant we would see her again and hear more of her amazing stories.  She would make us laugh again.  She might even make us cry.  But in a profession where people make their money by being somebody else, Carrie Fisher was always uniquely, unapologetically Carrie Fisher.  And we loved her for it.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Carrie’s mother, daughter, family members, and everyone else she touched during her 60 years.  But since we want to end this remembrance by putting a smile on your face (the same way she always did for us), enjoy a couple of memorable — and hysterical — salutes she gave to George Lucas and Harrison Ford.

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Posted by: AC

Superman’s Original Jimmy Olsen: Jack Larson R.I.P.

jack_larson_mugIt’s being reported that JACK LARSON has died at the age of 87. An actor, producer, screenwriter and playwright, LARSON was probably best known for his role as photographer/cub reporter Jimmy Olsen on the popular 50’s TV series THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.

Although he found some work on the big screen he was ultimately typecast by the Jimmy Olsen role and sought work behind the scenes. Later in his career he and co-star NOEL NEILL (Lois Lane) often reprised their characters in subsequent projects involving the ‘man of steel’.

It should also be noted that he was partnered with director JAMES BRIDGES from 1958 until BRIDGES‘ death in 1993.

In 2005 we had the chance to speak with LARSON and NEILL about their work and the actor talked about keeping up with various SUPERMAN projects and the continued popularity of the character.

JACK LARSON 1928 – 2015

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Posted by Bob Healy

A Literary Lioness Passes: Jackie Collins R.I.P.

jackiegormanblue_-_copyWe couldn’t be more sorry to hear of today’s passing of JACKIE COLLINS. A victim of breast cancer at the age of 77, COLLINS was an accomplished novelist, raconteuse and jet-setter with 32 New York Times bestsellers to her credit. Translated into 40 languages, her books have sold, in total, over 500 million copies and eight of them were adapted for film or TV mini-series’.

The younger sister of iconic actress JOAN COLLINS, JACKIE turned the world of show business into her own literary domain and made no secret of turning her industry friendships into fodder for her work.

Over the years (decades actually), we’ve spoken with COLLINS countless times and shared many truly enjoyable interview hours. She had no false impressions about her rep as a pop-culture author and laughed all the way to the bank at the snobs who discounted her work. Back in ’99 she joked with us about the popularity of her bestselling books. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)

JACKIE COLLINS 1937 – 2015

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Posted by Bob Healy

‘Scream King’ Wes Craven Dies At 76: R.I.P.

wes-cravenAll of show biz is mourning the news of the passing of writer/director/producer WES CRAVEN, who lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 76. The man behind some of the most successful contemporary horror franchises in film history, CRAVEN left his mark in the history books beginning with the shockingly exploitive LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (which was released in theaters exactly 43 years ago today on 8/30/72) through such landmark series as THE HILLS HAVE EYES, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM.

A former university professor, CRAVEN left the world of academia for a job directing theatrical porn (using pseudonyms) before moving on to more ‘acceptable’ work.

The undisputed king of the horror game, CRAVEN worked outside of the genre a few times (MUSIC OF THE HEART, PARIS, J’TAIME) but always returned to the material he felt most comfortable with.

Over the years, we sat down with WES CRAVEN many times but it was during an interview in 1990 that he confided that, even though he wanted to try other things, horror films allowed him the elasticity to do almost anything. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)

WES CRAVEN 1939 – 2015

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Posted By Bob Healy

TV’s Original Batgirl Chose Brains Over Beauty: Yvonne Craig R.I.P.

batgirl_cycle1Fans of popular mid-century television were saddened yesterday to learn of the death of YVONNE CRAIG, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 78. Probably best known for her role as BATGIRL on the hugely successful BATMAN TV series, CRAIG also had highly visible roles in such series as THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., FANTASY ISLAND, THE MOD SQUAD and THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS as well her scene-stealing part as the ‘green slave girl’ intent on killing Capt. Kirk in the third season of STAR TREK.

Originally trained in classical ballet, CRAIG was spotted by director JOHN FORD’s son, PATRICK, and cast in THE YOUNG LAND opposite PATRICK WAYNE and DENNIS HOPPER. That led to roles in two ELVIS PRESLEY films (KISSIN’ COUSINS and IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR) and, from there, steady TV work followed.

While promoting her memoir FROM BALLET TO THE BATCAVE AND BEYOND in 2000, we had the pleasure of sitting down with CRAIG, who confessed that she was oblivious to her sex appeal in the ’60s and considered herself to be more brains than beauty. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)

YVONNE CRAIG 1937 – 2015

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Posted By Bob Healy