Childhood Role Models- Mary Tyler Moore February 03, 2017 13:36 1 Comment
I am reflecting on my youth. I am trying to recall female role models I admired as a young girl who inspired me to be better, stronger and more willful. Other than the determination of my mother and one female grade school teacher no one fills this vacancy. No one except female TV personalities I grew up with.
My early childhood was bombarded with 1960’s television shows. Like most households in my hometown, once settled indoors for the night. this was the entertainment of choice. Ice skating during the winter and swimming for the cost of a dime at Eddie's pool in the summer, my childhood was a constant outdoor adventure and I was incredibly fortunate to live beside a river. My indoor time, especially in the cold Canadian winters was my TV time! The weeks were ruled and planned by the arrival of the TV Guide. This small little magazine was taken very seriously in my household.
Other than my own mother and female teacher in my school, the female identifiers in my life were between the covers of the weekly T.V. Guide. If one of these actresses made it on the cover, I would stare at their flat shiny faces for the entire week. Firstly, when the Guide was virginal, still shining and smooth, and lastly, I would offer it my final gaze. The now puffy and coffee stained pages barely survived the week in our household, housing my grandfather, mom and dad, sister, myself and three younger brothers.
My television programming was filled with women comedians. Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Elizabeth Montgomery to name a few.
Lucy’s character in I Love Lucy was my first identifying role model. She was curious, silly, adventurous and brave. She never listened to her husband and always figured a way to pursue her goals. Although her character was dated, I loved how she always come away smarter than those around her. The show was aired between 1951-1957, but the wide eyes and full skirted dresses didn’t fool me. Wits in my book equated to female brain power.
That Girl with Marlo Thomas inspired character Ann Marie, boldly moving to Manhattan to pursue an acting career was another female inspiration. Ann Marie was the first woman character to move out of her parent’s home and live on her own without a husband. Marlo Thomas specifically chose this script for its feminist message. At the end run of the show, she chose to have Ann not marry her boyfriend Don, sending the message that finding a husband was not the ultimate goal. Women can be allowed to pursue their own dreams and aspirations. That Girl ran between 1960-1969.
Mary Tyler Moore Show, I think was the most influential for me. It ran straight through my teenage years, thus having a huge impact on my teenage view of women.
I did love Mary Tyler Moore’s character, Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show. Some comedy mirrored from I Love Lucy, her person was brimming with her own stuff and her own identity. When she was given her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laura Petrie was to be single. Originally, the writers wanted her to be the first divorced woman on TV but the network had a meltdown. Instead, to explain why a beautiful single 30 year old woman was living by herself in a big city was explained with the ending of a long term relationship. She now didn’t have to maneuver her way around a husband. She now had to maneuver her way around her boss and the exploding feminist identifiers of the seventies. The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired between 1970-1977.
I so Loved her, as did all of us. Thank you Mary for all of your talent, all of your honesty and all of your warmth.
Below, a fun article I found exploring how Mary Tyler Moore shaped working women's style and its resurgence in the upcoming 2017 fashion season.