Before I started my new job the other day, my husband, who doesn’t often burst into song, serenaded me with a few bars from the old “Mary Tyler Moore Show’s” theme song: “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Because for women in and out of journalism who grew up in the ’70s, starting over in a new place inevitably involves internally tossing your hat into the air just as MTM’s character on that show, Mary Richards, did: “You’re going to make it after all,” she told herself, and us — pointing the way to independence and integrity alongside belly laughs and, of course, that dreaded spunk.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
There had never been a TV character like Mary, a single woman starting out in TV news in Minneapolis after a broken engagement. The moral center of her fictional newsroom, she went to jail rather than reveal the identity of a source and insisted on equal pay. A stand-up colleague and unfailingly kind friend, her character was flawed and flummoxed but never sold out, a true professional without sacrificing her humanity.
Moore died on Wednesday at 80, and as a friend said today, when she threw her hat into the sky, she let us know that sky was ours.
Melinda Henneberger, firstname.lastname@example.org