RIP Mary Tyler Moore

Mary: Let me get this straight? The only reason he was paid more than I am is because he was a man?

Mr. Grant:  Oh sure it has nothing to do with your work. 

Mary: No, no wait a minute, because I want to understand this. I’m doing as good a job as he did.

Mr. Grant: Better!

Mary: Better! And I’m being paid less because …

Mr. Grant: You’re a woman. 

Mary: Well, Mr. Grant there is no good reason why two people doing the same job, at the same place, shouldn’t be making the …

Mr. Grant: He had a family to support. You don’t. Now why don’t you come back when you have an answer to that. 

Mary: Because financial need has nothing to do with it. Because in order to be consistent with what you’re saying, you would have to pay the man with three children more than the man with two children. And the married man more than the bachelor. Mr. Grant, you don’t do that. So what possible reason can you give me for not paying me at least as much as the man who had this job before me? 

I keep thinking about the recent loss of Mary Tyler Moore.  I grew up on TV in the 1970’s.  Mary represented the single working woman away from home, starting out in a big city and trying to prove herself in a male environment.  She was obviously smarter than Ted, a peer of Murray and the twinkle in Mr. Grant’s eye because he was impressed with her abilities.

Mary dated a bunch of losers.  Her best buddy upstairs Rhoda was one of my all time favorite characters and perhaps it is the Jew in me that truly connected to her chutzpah.  Both of these women were role models of my generation where women were just starting to show their chops in the public eye.

I read the book about the making of the show a few years back.  It is amazing how much fear there went into the show around Mary being divorced and for TV that was out there so instead she was single because she had broken up with her fiancee.  It is a worthy read and gave me some insight into what seemed to be normal back then was so incredibly edgy.

Mary’s character wasn’t political she just was.  The clothes and the sets were amazing.  The show shaped my perception of the working life.

There is one episode of Mary that keeps playing over and over in my mind since I read about her death.  She wasn’t comfortable doing it but she know she deserved it.  It happened on the third season premier.  She found out that the man that had the job before her was making more money than she is.  He had 3 kids but that wasn’t the point.  She was nervous but she stuck to her guns and asked Mr Grant for the raise.  It is poignant piece about women sticking up for what they deserve.  This was directly tied to the women’s movement and the wage gap that existed and still does.  Of course I had zero idea it existed at that point of my life.  It has stuck with me forever.

I went back and watched that show when she died.  Mary Tyler Moore made her mark on women of my generation in ways I believe she knew.  I just loved Mary.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Tracey Jackson


    1. Gotham Gal

      Exactly. I know u feel the same.

  2. kbb

    Thank you. That is such important popular history to share.

  3. WD

    COMPLETLY agree and great point – all of us that grew up on this didn’t realize how important this work was/is and that it is STILL a problem today is….exhausting. We owe so many women a thank you for pushing this issue and we must continue the work until it is “solved” (don’t know if it will ever be solved but let’s keep pushing the envelop) RIP MTM indeed.