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'Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted': 8 stories from the making of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

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Mary Tyler Moore

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2. No divorces

When Brooks and Burns met with CBS executives about "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," one idea instantly raised objections: the plan to make Mary Richards a divorcée. One executive protested, "The audience will think she divorced Dick Van Dyke!," referring to Moore's previous role as wife Laura on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Brooks and Burns explained that the husband would appear onscreen and he would look different from Van Dyke. Executives also objected to Mary openly stating her age, which Brooks and Burns felt would make her more relatable. Finally, the executives turned to a staff member from the research department. "Our research says American audiences won't tolerate divorce in a lead of a series any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York." It was finally settled that the character of Mary Richards would not be divorced, but instead would have recently ended a relationship.

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