The passing of legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore prompted an outpouring of affection from fans worldwide. She is remembered as someone who helped break down the barriers of gender in the workplace on her hit television show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as Mary Richards, television news producer at WJM in Minneapolis. She empowered many women at a time when thoughts of gender equality were just taking shape.
With her husband, Grant Tinker, Moore started MTM Enterprises, which produced not only the Mary Tyler Moore Show but also many of its spin-offs, including Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant, as well as the smash hit The Bob Newhart Show, which made Moore a success beyond the screen. She showed that strong, single women could “make it after all,” as the theme song from her show famously sang.
Mary Tyler Moore and Mary Richards led many women to seek careers in media and journalism, and she had a profound impact on the city where the show was based. Christine Fruechte, CEO at Colle+McVoy, was one of the women in Minneapolis wowed by Moore and what she meant to women and the city her agency calls home. She took some time to reflect on the influence Moore had on her, her city and women in business.
The Drum: How did Mary Tyler Moore influence and inspire you?
Christine Fruechte: Mary Tyler Moore influenced so many girls and women with her smart and fearless portrayal of working women during a time when it was rarely seen in entertainment. Seeing a woman working alongside men and being just as independent, funny and bold as they were had a huge impact on me. It was reassuring to know that I could be that successful someday. Anyone could.
Minneapolis became well known because of Mary Tyler Moore. Being a Minnesotan, what kind of effect did that have on the city and the women who worked there?
The Mary Tyler Moore Show helped put Minneapolis on the map for many people. Since the show tackled some serious issues of the day with wit and understanding, I think that brushed off on how the people of Minneapolis were seen. It helped nurture our region’s reputation for being open-minded and progressive, which we are still known for today.
How has Minneapolis been reacting to her passing?
It’s been inspiring to see how many people, especially my female friends, have been impacted by Mary Tyler Moore. My social feeds are filled with Mary quotes, stories and personal statements of what an inspiration she was. Our news and headlines today are all about Mary and her impact on our city.
Does the city still get recognition for her basing the show in Minneapolis?
The show was not just a critical success, it became part of American culture at the time. It still resonates with people who come to visit Minneapolis. The house that was used to portray Mary’s home in the show is still a landmark for tourists to visit. And there’s an iconic statue of her character’s famous hat toss that is now in the Minneapolis visitor center. You can’t miss it when you visit.
What kind of lasting influence does Mary Tyler Moore and MTM productions have on women in media and marketing today?
When Mary helped found MTM Productions, she became a pioneering woman behind the camera as well. While she’s best known for her acting and philanthropy, she’s also remembered for proving the power that women can wield in the entertainment industry.
How did Mary’s character, one of the first single women to be represented as strong in the media workplace and in life, affect you and how did it resonate to an entire generation of women looking to become empowered?
Mary helped shatter the expectation that women could only be fulfilled by marriage and motherhood. She showed us that woman could work, be successful and still be happy without a man or children. I think she gave women the confidence to pursue careers and futures that did not always follow the traditional path, but would be just as fulfilling.
What did Mary Tyler Moore help change for women overall and what will be her legacy?
Mary Tyler Moore will always be remembered and loved for inspiring a generation of women to be brave and pursue their dreams while turning the world on with a smile.