Fifty years ago this week, on September 19, 2020, the iconic Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS television. Marking the occasion, Jacobs/Brown Press has published MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY by Herbie J Pilato, an in-depth biography of the iconic actress who found fame on the 1960s TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, and then in her own ground-breaking 1970s series.
“It was a remarkable series that starred a remarkable person,” says author Pilato, host of Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a classic-TV talk show now streaming on Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime UK. “It debuted at the onset of the Women’s Liberation movement, and went on to change the face of television comedy.”
This latest celebrity biography by Pilato, author of several books about classic television and its stars, including Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery, chronicles Mary Tyler Moore’s personal and professional challenges and triumphs before, during, and after her two historic sitcoms, including other television appearances, feature films, and stage plays spanning her career of six decades. “When you’re in the public eye of any arena,” Pilato says, “… entertainment, politics, whatever, there is a tremendous responsibility to do and say the right thing. And Mary rose to the occasion, even in her darkest hours.” Pilato’s biography on Moore, who died January 25th, 2017, reveals that the actress behind the bright smile had many dark hours in her life. But, says the author, “she was as honest as she could be in public and in private. She did the best she could in communicating her truest thoughts. She had integrity, and she had flaws — several of them – but she combined those opposing aspects of herself and became a consummate performer, while advocating for various humanitarian and social causes in the process. And she was the first to admit her imperfections, which only added to her appeal and charm.” A gifted actress, dancer, singer, and unwavering philanthropist, Moore was an especially dedicated advocate for animals, and those stricken with diabetes (from which she also suffered). For years, she was spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, while carefully navigating her career. “I made every effort to explore every facet of her up-and-down life and career in MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY,” says Pilato. Pilato’s biography of Moore explores the actress’s struggles with alcoholism and diabetes; childhood sexual abuse; the emotional and psychological abuse she suffered from her parents; her lack of self-esteem; her obsession with plastic surgery and animal advocacy; her troubled relationships with her first husband, Richard Meeker; the tragic deaths of her son, her brother, and her sister; her complex relationships with second husband and business partner, TV executive Grant Tinker, co-stars Rose Marie (from The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Valerie Harper (from The Mary Tyler Moore Show); and playwright Neil Simon; as well as her professional failures on Broadway, the big screen, and television (including the much-maligned Mary and Rhoda TV-movie of 2000). The book also addresses Moore’s devoted relationship to her third and last husband Dr. Robert Levine, who was 15 years her junior. “Mary adored him,” Pilato says, “…and he adored her. They were devoted to one another and, in the end, Mary finally found true, long-lasting love.” MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY features all-new commentary culled from exclusive interviews with several of Moore’s co-stars over the years, including Mary Tyler Moore Show actors Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, and Joyce Bulifant; as well as Larry Mathews (little Ritchie Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show), Carol Channing (Moore’s co-star from the 1967 movie Thoroughly Modern Millie), and other insiders, like Matthew Asner (son of Ed Asner), who grew up on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and went on to co-produce and co-direct the DVD release and its included documentary of that series. Rare recollections are also provided by renowned television journalist Betty Rollin, who overcame breast cancer (and who Moore portrayed in the ground-breaking 1978 TV-biopic, First You Cry, based on Rollin’s best-selling memoir of the same name); and many of the writer/producers who worked with Moore on numerous of her television, feature film, stage and personal appearances over the years.
The critics have only praise for MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY. Says Stephanie Nolasco of Fox News, “MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY...explores both her triumphs and struggles on the screen and behind closed doors.”
Peter King, of CBS News Radio, adds: “Herbie J Pilato is a true ‘keeper of the flame’ for classic TV. In MARY, he’s given us an extensive, humanizing look at one of the medium’s biggest icons; the good, the bad and sometimes, ugly. But it’s real. He’s spoken to all the right people...and I’m betting there’s a lot here that will surprise even the most devoted fans.”
“No doubt she was a complicated person,” says Pilato of Moore. “And she certainly was no Mary Richards, the sweet-as-American-pie character Moore played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Even she admitted that. But she was true to herself – and loyal to her devoted fans, no matter how bad a day she had, and she had many bad days.” But, as anyone knows who watched the premiere of her legendary sitcom five decades ago, Mary Tyler Moore was someone who could indeed “turn the world on with her smile.” So, tune in and turn on to MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY by Herbie J Pilato. To interview the author or to request a review copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.