Sunday, June 01, 2008
the mary tyler moore show

Recently, Oprah had the entire cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on her show....It was wonderful to see everyone as they look now and to see the true love and friendship that they all feel for one another.....My associations to this show are many. Gavin McLoed was a member of Theatre West back in the late sixties and early seventies and a great friend....In fact I had been in a little one act play of his at TW...And it was so much fun---he is a talented writer and an incredibly talented actor, who's early work in the theatre was quite serious....Valerie Harper was a great friend of very dear friends of mine and I met her way before the MTM Show. And Ed Asner----Well, In all honesty I don't remember exactly how I first met him but I think it was when we did "Spoon River" at UCLA before we went to Broadway, so that was back in the Spring of 1963.....I later worked with him on a "Police Story", in an episode that he starred in and I had one of my small parts....my scene just happened to be with him and, at least there was something to "play" in that one...(I just remembered that I did three "Lou Grant"s, too....though in none of them were my scenes with him....Those were nice small parts and again, there was something to 'play').....And, I was actually on The Mary Tyler Moore Show....and it was about as tiny a part as one could have and not be listed as an extra.....I was: "Receptionist".....I had three lines. And by the time it "aired" one of those three lines had been cut. The way Situation Comedies work you sit around the table the first day of rehearsal and have what is called 'a table read'. Coming into this iconic show was pretty daunting and I was extremely nervous....But Gavin greeted me with open arms and a huge hug and introduced me to everyone in the most generous and loving way and they all made me feel right at home. And because I knew Ed Asner as well, he was extremely warm and friendly too, which made me feel very much a part of this ensemble. I don't recall Valerie being there that day---she may have been but I don't think so. David Ogden Stiers was the 'guest star' and as far as I know, we were the only outsiders.....He became a semi-regular, and in this show I believe I was his "Receptionist" and I had to show Mary into his office. A small part like this is harder to do than anything. You are not a person. You have no name. You aren't related to the other people in any real way and there is nothing to "play". All you can do is come in, say the lines, and leave, hopefully appearing as if you actually belonged there. Many of my parts on Television were like that. Sort of disembodied thing-people....no past no future, no nothing, except for those few moments. Some of the parts I played on TV the people did have actual names...THAT was at least something, but many of those parts had no name, just a description--like, "Receptionist" or "Nurse"...(There were lots of those 'Nurse' parts....lol....).....Here and there I would have a part where there was really something to "play". I did a Movie For Television, as they used to be known, called "The Boy Who Drank Too Much". I had one line that was actually written, along with some Ad Lib things. The one written line: I said my name, "Edna" and then I said, "Co-Alcoholic". This was a picture about teenagers who were drunks and in this film I was the mother of this young teen age girl and we were in a special program, which actually existed in a Hospital in Long Beach, CA., where the kids and the parents went to 'group" together and the parent or friend took responsibility along with their son or daughter and declared themselves as being a 'Co-Alcoholic'....There was something to "play"----something to actually do and feel, because I was attached to someone...and that someone was my daughter....I LOVED that part and it was a pretty good film. Scott Baio was the main teenager who had a drinking problem and he was excellent. (Lance Kerwin was his friend who was his 'Co-Alcoholic' because Scott Baio's characters father, played by the wonderful actor Don Murray, was a drunk and never showed up for these Group Meetings...) I was in three or four scenes which was very nice, too, so that even though I didn't have much to say, there was an "intention" to play. Being the "Receptionist" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show with so little to do...well, that was very hard to play.....But, that was the challenge of it, too.....I can only tell you that everyone was sympathetic and understanding and supportive. They had all been there and done that....You can't ask for more than that! Watching everyone on Oprah the other day it was so great to see them all together again and to see how much they all loved each other and respected one another, too. That is what made that show. These incredibly talented people, great great writing, and a feeling of real camaraderie. They were a real ensemble. Over twenty years before, I had seen Cloris Leachman do Shakespeare's "As You Like It" with Katherine Hepburn and William Prince on Broadway.....it was the early 50's and I knew then, that she was an unusual and spectacular talent. She played Celia to Hepburn's Rosalind...A Fabulous Production....In fact, a landmark production, in every way....Hepburn on Broadway again? WOW! And Cloris Leachman, her Co-Star. We 'students' got to speak to Cloris after the performance and she was fantastic!....(I also eventually did a tiny bit on "Phyliss" when that became a spin-off....) There was one other later connection to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.....maybe two years or so later, Alan Burns, one of the two creators of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and his wife, bought two paintings of mine from my 1978 "Excessive" Show at Ankrum Gallery.....I was, needless to say, thrilled! Alan Burns and his wife buying those two paintings of mine meant more to me than any three lines I might have had on any television show. Those paintings were the core and the heart of me. And I don't think he ever connected me as an Artist-Painter to the me as an actress who played "Receptionist" on The MTM Show....I mean, why would he? (lol)

I must say it is kind of wonderful to have been on such an iconic show even if I barely had anything to do.....Incidentally, the episode was called "Look At Us We're Walking".....If you ever happen to see this episode---well, don't blink, cause if you blink you'll miss me!

Show Business. It is a continual mystery why certain things happen for certain people, and for others, it just doesn't happen. At the time I worked as an actress in television I was so grateful to get the work. I truly needed the money to live. I didn't care if I had 10 lines or one line.....I was deeply grateful to all the casting people who hired me. It got me through an incredibly difficult time.......






More To Come...........







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34 Comments:
had this to say:

What great memories that show bought back for you and seeing them must have reninded you of the same comaraderie you shared with the Spoon River gang. It's great how a group of people can just click right back in with each other when they have so many shared experiences, even when they haven't seen each other for a while.

We didn't really get the Mary Tyler Moore show over here in the UK, but if I ever see that episode I promise not to blink!

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 2:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I really enjoyed reading this post Naomi, and all the behind the scenes stuff you had to tell! I mostly know Mary Tyler Moore from the film she did with Elvis, 'Change of Habit', although I did see the MTM Show from time to time as well.

And OMG! I remember the actor Lance Kerwin that you talked about from that telemovie! He was in a show for about a season called 'James At 15' and I had the HUGEST crush on him lol! I wonder whatever became of him!

Thanks again for another fab post!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 5:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I was trying to watch that Oprah show and I got a phone call that kept me from seeing about half of it. I was so mad, but I couldn't say anything or get off the phone (it was a client). I loved Asner in Lou Grant, too, so I must have seen you in that show. Too bad I didn't know it was you!! I love it when you share your memories with us, Naomi. You are a treasure.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 5:57:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I miss Ted Knight, darn it.

Of course, it wasn't until years later that I truly appreciated the humor of that show. I went back to watch reruns after laughing my tookus off at Ted Knight in Caddyshack.

Cheers.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 10:43:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, what fun! I watched Oprah the day they were on her show. It brought back so many memories of the MTM show. I also loved watching Mary play on the Dick Van Dyke show. What a wonderful group of people.

It is nice that you had a small part of her show. I love reading about your memories and all of the people you have met and worked with. Keep tell us, Naomi.

PS. I like both sets of fixtures from you bathroom. The new ones are really nice.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 11:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Another wonderful trip down memory lane - Love it when you do these kinds of posts.

Regarding Lance Kerwin, IMDB states that in June 2000 - Lives on the LA drug and alcohol ranch called U-Turn For Christ with his 6 year old daughter, Savanah, and recently embarked on a missionary trip to Indonesia and The Phillipines. Kerwin says he started smoking pot before age 10 and did crack in his 20s. He only became clean & sober in the 90s through his new-found religious beliefs.

(May 2004) After many checkings in & out of rehabs, for drugs or alcohol problems during his teens and 20s, he is finally clean and sober. He's a converted christian and as of May 2004 is an indoctrined new Youth Minister at U-Turn for Christ.

Naomi, you have had such a great life and I really love when you let us peek in here and there.

Anne

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 1:36:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a special feeling that must've given you to see the MTM on Oprah. I mean, for me, I watch the Oprah show and feel somewhat disconnected to the guests who are on there, you know? Because I've never met them. They're just... someone out there who happens to be on Oprah. But for you, they're real people and that's pretty special.

It's also nice to hear about them from you, who have seen them as people who were just doing their job and that they were empathetic to your plight as a starting up actress. It's nice to know that they formed a bond as a result of that show, that job if you will. I have bonds with former co-workers, but not a "group" of co-workers, so that's pretty cool to know about that. :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 4:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

First time to your blog. I watched Oprah and the MTM reunion as well. Watched the show every Saturday night.

How cool that you were an actress and you got to be on the best TV show ever!

Thanks so much for sharing!

Lena

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 4:18:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great story! When i read one of your posts on your acting work and the connections and friendships you made throughout your career, I feel like I'm sitting right in front of you listening to your tales.....but then I realize I can't ask you any questions right away....'cause I'm way UP NORTH and you're on the other side of the continent from me.

There's a fireside/ poolside/ after dinner chat feel and I love it.

Ed Asner always seemed like a man who would be accessible and friendly....I always figured that if I bumped into him a conversation would ensue without much effort. He just seemed that way. I also have admired his passion for causes....

thanks for this Naomi. It was a fun and interesting read.

dana

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 4:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I loved reading this Naomi! I always enjoyed the MTM show and all the characters. I didn't see the Oprah show but it would have been great seeing them all back together. I might have seen you in one of your parts but I didn't know it! That would be neat seeing you..if only for just a few lines!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 5:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

The Mary Tyler Moore show is 1 of my all time favorites. I loved her relationship with Mr. Grant. The weatherman, oh my god, he was so funny, and his girlfriend... (Sue Ellen? Sue Ann?)... she was so funny too. What a perfect couple they made! Every character was so important to the shows success.
Good, good times.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 5:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hate to say it but as soon as you mentioned Katherine Hepburn's name... everyone went out the door... I just love Katherine Hepburn... take care

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 9:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great post!!! I loved The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was addicted to "Lou Grant" -- Ed Asner is an awesome actor -- so I probably saw you!

Loved the photo of Kate Hepburn -- she is one of my all-time favs.

One line -- a thousand lines! You were following your dream and that's what counts. And I envy you the courage to do that. I wish I'd follwed mine.

Who knows? I might make it yet!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 10:20:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What wonderful memories, as an actress and having a partner actress who never "made," it, we do both have fond memories. Yes, the cast loving what they do and who they do it with makes all the difference. MTM Show--a classic. Gawd, Kate was a beauty all her life. Big fan of CL here.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 2:21:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

Naomi - my multi- talented friend. I can imagine the frustration at trying to make a small part come to life. The irony is that when I was doing them I just wanted to back away. Later on I began to relish the challenge but you are right - the smaller the part the greater the difficulty. It must have been heartwarming to see them all together. I have always thought actors are some of the nicest people.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 8:06:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

BTW I'm sure I did see the MTM shows here - possible before Bob-kat was born:)

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 8:07:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I love when you do "back story" posts.
I also loved the MTM show and all the spin-offs from it.
Would love to rent that movie to see you there. And I know what you mean....about how some go on to become "famous" in the world of arts and some just don't. But you'll always be famous to us here in the hills, Naomi.
Terri
http://www.islandwriter.net

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 8:38:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember that show and when she was even younger playing Dick Van Dyke's wife. It is interesting to hear the other side of it, the people who come in with small parts who add depth to the story but you don't think much about as you watch.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 4:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Even the theme song brings back warm memories of those days in the early 70s. I learned English from watching shows like this.

How exciting to have been a part of such a wonderful TV show with such fine actors. I can see how it could be tough to portray a character with few words and little air time. I'd love to catch you on one of the reruns.

As for seeing them all together on Oprah, that must've been exciting. I would love to see what they all look like now and hear about what they've done after the show.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 4:12:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember the mary tyler moore show and I enjoyed it but it just disappeared from our TV programs for reason I really don't know.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 7:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You've led such an interesting life! Thank you for sharing this, Naomi.

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 7:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm going to be watching for you in any old show I see now. I love these little glimpses into show biz and hearing about your full life.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 9:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

PS I loved the Oprah show on MTM, how they recreated the set and seeing how much MTM meant to Oprah. I loved the show too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 9:21:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi. I enjoyed Mary Tyler Moore growing up...more than Oprah's talkshow.

Once again thank you for sharing yourself and reminisces of show biz!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 1:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I love reading your memories!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 2:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

As I wrote (and you commented on) May 19 th I cried through most of that show it brought back such great memories. How lucky you are to have actually known them and been a part of it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 4:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I love this post. You just have so many cool things to write about. I had no idea you did bits on all these shows. I used to watch MTM as a kid. I remember her throwing that hat. I never liked Betty White but then when Golden Girls came out I loved her. She just seemed so mean on MTM.

Thanks for always sharing such great memories!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 5:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It must be so cool to see friends on TV! A girl I went through a volunteers course with at the YMCA years ago was in "My Big Fat Wedding". I saw that movie last night and it was fun to see her in it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 5:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I absolutly love this post on so many levels.
Can you believe that The Mary Tyler Moore show was the first tv show I ever saw in colour !!
Colour TV came late to NZ and my grandmothers sister had one of the first ones. I was mesmorised actually seeing colour instead of black and white haha.

Boy can I relate to your "bit" parts too. At least receptionist is better then woman in coffee shop ;)

BTW I do have some I am going to be on TV news for you will email you about it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 6:20:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

My brother Jason called just as I was typing my comment for your Obama post.
Here I am again, to read this post.
I taped that MTM cast show on Oprah and watched it.
I just love that show and the cast!! I have always been such a fan. It was a truly funny show, and I think the secret of its success what that it had heart. It was funny, but at the same time the acting & writing were so good that the audience truly loved those characters.
It is wonderful that you have connections to so many actors and shows, even if those parts were small. You got to take part, and that is terrific!
You are so right about how mysterious it is that some actors, singers, entertainers make it big, and others who are equally or even better talented don't make it big. You've had connections with many talented people over the years, and YOU are one of those very talented people yourself!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 3:13:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You are just an all around talented person!

It's so fascinating to hear the personal "behind the scenes" stories.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 4:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I loved reading this post! Fascinating. I graduated from high school in Anaheim, CA 1967. I'm originally from New Hampshire, but I was in CA during the MTM era and it's nice hearing about your experience during that time as an actress.

BTW, I'm here from Sara's blog ... fabricNfiber fantatic.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 7:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Your posts are always a window into a world most know nothing about. :) Funny the circles in life that keep circling and coinciding with each other.

I saw that reunion ep on Oprah. Very sweet.

~S

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Fabulous memories of a favorite show, thank you.

Me being a total TV geek:
Valerie Harper wouldn't have been there that day; David Ogden Stiers only appeared on the last season of the show, and by then Rhoda had long since moved to New York. . . as in, "New York, this is ya last chance."

Friday, June 20, 2008 at 1:36:00 PM PDT 

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