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 "The Mary I Knew"

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Mary Tyler Moore changed television, and America, forever. The man who
played her boss Lou Grant remembers the woman behind the smile.

By Ed Asner as told to Dan Snierson in Entertainment Weekly

Mary Tyler Moorenit hats flew at half-mast on Jan. 25, 2017. When Mary Tyler Moore died at the age of 80 of cardiopulmonary arrest in Greenwich, Conn., the culture mourned the loss of one of the most vital and vivacious voices in TV history. Moore fetched two Emmys in the '60s as charming housewife Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and earned an Oscar nomination as an icy mother in 1980's Ordinary People. But it was her seven-season turn (1970-77) as spunky TV producer Mary Richards on CBS' The Mary Tyler Moore Show that Moore burned brightest, winning four Emmys as a single woman who defied traditional archetypes, charted her own course in the workforce, and became a feminist icon. (The show is available on Hulu, Amazon, and iTunes.) Along the way, Mary Richards formed an unlikely bond with her gruff boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner). They became a punchline-perfect duo, and their friendship evolved into the show's emotional center. If she could turn the world on with her smile, he could turn it right back off with his scowl. Here, Asner, 87, who nabbed five Emmys for that role, remembers the woman who changed the game not only for him -- but for audiences everywhere.


Ed AsnerAmerica's sweetheart -- that was my first impression. Automatically, her beauty took hold. She was the goddess, and I hoped that the little lady -- or the big lady, I should say -- would overlook my faults. I read as I thought they wanted to hear me read, and they laughed and said the appropriate "Thank you, we'll be in touch." From what I heard, after I left, Mary turned to them and, with a tremendously screwed-up face, said, "Are you sure?" I don't blame her for asking the question that way, becaue it was a meshuggeneh reading. The producers said to her, "That's your Lou Grant."

I like to think the Mary-Lou relationship was special. Lou served as a guardian for her throughout the history of the show, and sometimes pushed her forward when she wasn't ready to be pushed.


The audience did not laugh to any degree [during a test version of the show]. Mary was in horrendous tears. Supposedly, [her then husband and MTM Productions chief] Grant Tinker said to the producers, "Fix it." At the Friday filming, the producers said, "Just play the hell out of it." We went out there and we kicked the s--- out of it. I got to the "You know what? You've got spunk" scene, and I had a devilish grin on my face. And her character basked in that credit I was giving her. I immediately turned on her and said, "I hate spunk." We just felt the scene was a great jumping-off place for the show. It flew like the wind and collected all kinds of huzzahs. We marveled at how the early prognostications were full of s---. I felt, at that moment, that I could've taken those 300 people [in the audience] and marched them off a cliff -- they were totally in my power. From that point on, the show just floated on clouds.


The producers saw [Mary's] pluses and realized that they were a bonanza to draw from -- both her wit and her intelligence and her comic timing -- to push [my character's] envelope as far as it could be pushed. I was surprised to hear that we were breaking ground and, later on, those saying it was revolutionary. I couldn't believe that everybody tended to htink of this as such a big deal. Women certainly regarded it that way. I never saw any reaction [from Mary] except a pleased-as-punch smile. She didn't comment on it, nobody else did. I didn't comment on it either. "If that's what they think, fine, we'll forge ahead and amass more sympathetic votes." Rights advancements come about many times by quietly instituting it rather than blazing it across the front page.


When Chuckles the Clown bites the dust, Mary tries to ride herd on all of us to be properly mournful and observant, and then the minister gives his sermon. Each time he mentions something -- "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants" -- Mary breaks up giggling, and the rest of us all look at her like, "Are you nuts? It's terrible what you're doing!" She ends the scene crying. That's what she could do: Mary could laugh and cry at the same time, and that was a special gift that truly delineated her.

There wasn't a person she was unkind to in her glory days. There wasn't an animal that she didn't love. I can't say I ever take the measure of most stars of TV shows, but she was quite willing to stay in the background and give the star turn to whoever had that moment in the show, be it a permanent member of the cast or the guest. She was willing to bask in their reflected light.


Mary gave us brilliant moments for seven years. She was one of the greats. She was unique in terms of beauty and wit -- a nonpareil. I call the show "seven years of the yellow brick road," and I certainly was given a great gift. I think the others in the show felt the same way. There would be no show without Mary Tyler Moore. She was the show, and we were damn grateful she was therer. Thank God fortune dealt us that hand.


Valerie HarperMary, darling. Darling, that's what I called her. I watched her on The Dick Van Dyke Show and said, "My God, this girl is wonderful." I loved her as Laura Petrie. She was a brunette. She wore tight pants. And that smile and her wonderful way with her husband, Rob. That affected me as a person who didn't even know her. In the first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I knock on the window, saying, "Hello, I'm Rhoda Morganstern... Get out of my apartment!" That was my first thing, to kick her out. Over time we became friends, on and off screen. Mary was so sweet and generous. In between scenes she did needlepoint, and for Christmas she made one for each of us in the cast with our initials and the hat that she threw in the air in the opening on the show. Everybody's hat was saying something different. It took her time, and she made each one beautiful. When I got sick in 2013, she sent me a huge vintage poster for the 1933 French film Jeunesse. It was gorgeous, and it was of two women -- one had a Rhoda hat on, white dots on it and a big red rose, and the other was just a nice brunette. It was fabulous. And she was fabulous. She sent that with a note, saying, "Val, look at these two old broads. They're helping each other. They're supporting each other. They're loving each other. Love, Mary." You can't get better than Mary. And I'm so sorry she's gone. She left in January, and she's in heaven. I know she is. There's no place for her but there. Mary, you doll. - as told to Johnny Dodd

Harper starred on The Mary Tyler Moore Show for four seasons.  

 The Stones' Tribute to Sweet Home Chicago

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Their first-ever all-blues album is raw, dirty and full of wisdom.

The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome
Rock (Interscope)

By David Fricke in Rolling Stone

'Blue and Lonesome' - The Rolling StonesMick Jagger and Keith Richardss the Stones formed in London in early 1962, Mick Jagger was giggling with Alexis Korner and snging Chicago grit like "Ride 'Em on Down," a 1955 single by Jimmy Reed's guitarist Eddie Taylor. On the Stones' first all-blues LP Blue & Lonesome, Jagger tears into Taylor's stomp again, chewing on the lyrics like a favorite meal against Keith Richards' and Ron Wood's sniping guitars and Charlie Watts' rifle-volley snare fills. It is the world's biggest blues band doing what comes naturally in a dozen covers mostly associated with sweet home Chicago.

The Stones first heard these songs as foreign language, the lust and trials of older, hardened men. That rough weather now fits the Stones like a suit off a rack at the Maxwell Street Market. The guitars are huddles of chug and bark; Jagger echoes his exuberant howls in blazing peals of harp. The Stones were already big-time when Howlin' Wolf recorded his 1966 rarity "Commit a Crime," treated here with raw ardor. But the younger Stones couldn't have tackled Reed's 1957 lament "Little Rain" like the slow, advancing storm here -- a reflection of the grip and wisdom that only comes with miles and age. * * * * 1/2  

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