It was one of the most-important and most-watched TV shows of the 1970s, a vehicle for a female actress playing a single working woman. The premise was unusual and the setting – a Midwest television station’s newsroom – was unique, with the laughter underscoring social points still relevant today.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” starring Moore as TV news producer Mary Richards, racked up honors year after year after debuting in 1970. Three times it was awarded the Emmy for outstanding comedy series.
It created iconic TV images: Moore tossing her cap into the air in the show’s opening, the final episode’s group hug and rendition of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” that mixed tears with laughs.
After turning off the lights in the newsroom to close that final episode, Moore went on to work in theater and other TV shows. Her work with Robert Redford in the 1980 movie “Ordinary People” earned her an Oscar nomination.
Even though Moore was the star of the TV show that carried her name, it was the cast that carried the show with her during its seven-season run.
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The core cast went on to appear in spinoffs and their own hit series, and some are still busy in front of the camera.
Here’s what happened to the much-decorated actors on the CBS hit about a Minneapolis TV newsroom and its cast of characters:
Ed Asner (Lou Grant, the boss)
Since playing gruff producer Lou Grant in “Mary Tyler Moore” and the award-winning “Lou Grant” spinoff about a newspaper city editor, Asner has lent his voice to many projects, such as “The Cleveland Show” and the TV series “Spider-Man.” He also has appeared in films including “JFK” and “Elf.” Asner, 87, has won seven Emmy awards – three for his work on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. He continues a hectic pace with a dozen roles in 2016 and even more planned for this year.
Gavin MacLeod (Murray Slaughter, the news writer)
After playing Murray Slaughter on “Mary Tyler Moore,” Gavin MacLeod hopped aboard “The Love Boat” for nine seasons as Capt. Merrill Stubing. MacLeod, 85, has since guest-starred on “That ‘70s Show,” “The King of Queens” and several other shows. In 2011, he voiced a character in an episode of a show called “Pound Puppies.”
Valerie Harper (Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary’s friend)
Valerie Harper left “Mary Tyler Moore” for a spinoff titled “Rhoda,” which ran from 1974 to 1978. She also has appeared on programs such as “Desperate Housewives” and “The Office” since her days as the brash-talking neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern. Harper disclosed a terminal cancer diagnosis in March 2013. Later that year she competed on three weeks of “Dancing With the Stars.” Harper, 77, voiced a character in the Adult Swim show “Childrens Hospital” last year.
Ted Knight (Ted Baxter, the anchorman)
Ted Knight was one of the stars of the classic film comedy “Caddyshack” and went on to play Henry Rush, a married, overprotective father whose two daughters also live in his duplex, on TV’s “Too Close for Comfort” in the 1980s. Knight also had a self-titled comedy that had a six-episode run in 1978. He died in 1986 at 62.
Betty White (Sue Ann Nivens, the ‘Happy Homemaker’)
After her role as the host of a homemaking show on “Mary Tyler Moore,” Betty White went on to appear in “The Golden Girls,” and was nominated for an Emmy for seven years in a row. She won once and also picked up Emmys for guest appearances on “The John Laroquette Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” in addition to the two she won playing Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She also appeared in more than 100 episodes of the TV comedy “Hot in Cleveland, which ended in 2015. White, 95, is more popular than ever with fans and is still often seen on game shows and entertainment news shows.
Cloris Leachman (Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s friend)
Cloris Leachman, now 90, played Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s friend who helped her find an apartment in Minneapolis. She also starred in a spinoff, “Phyllis,” which ran for two seasons. She went on to play “The Facts of Life’s” Beverly Ann Stickle in the 1980s. After many TV guest spots and appearances in films, the comedian played Maw Maw on “Raising Hope” until 2014. She also competed on the seventh season of “Dancing with the Stars.” She has a role in the upcoming show “American Gods” on Starzz. She has won a record (for an actor) eight Emmys.
Georgia Engel (Georgette Franklin, Ted’s girlfriend)
Since portraying Georgette Franklin, Georgia Engel, 68, has appeared in films and cted on series including “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Coach.” She also has voiced characters in three “Open Season” films and “The Care Bears Movie.” Most recently she played the role of Mamie in “Hot in Cleveland.”