There’s something about Mary

When Notre Dame Magazine came calling to ask George Spencer what he was reading, he had a good answer. He was reading Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted (2013), a history of the Mary Tyler Moore Show of blessed memory (1970-1977). Readers like me who remember the show with special fondness will find Spencer’s discussion of the book of interest, probably of more interest than the book itself.

Spencer notes the reserve of Mary Tyler Moore. Like the show’s other actors excepting Valerie Harper, Moore declined to be interviewed by Armstrong. Spencer observes that Moore’s most revelatory comments in previous interviews quoted in the book were about her own guardedness. For example, Armstrong quotes Moore: “I’m cautious in my dealings. I’m a hang-back person when things get uncomfortable. I’m reserved, I guess.”

It made me think ahead — ahead in Moore’s career after the show — to her performance in the film Ordinary People (1980). Moore turned in what seems to me a brilliant performance. Her performance was not exactly against the type of her comic persona, but rather perhaps its dark side.