Friday, November 25, 2022

Mary Tyler Moore


"I'm not an actress who can create a character.  I play me."

Mary Tyler Moore was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 29, 1936.  She was the oldest of three children born to an Irish-Catholic family.  When she was eight years old, the family relocated to Los Angeles, where she completed her education at Immaculate Heart High School.

The move was a perfect fit for Moore, who had long had stars in her eyes.  She made her first television appearance in 1955, starring as "Happy Hotpoint," an elf, in a series of Hotpoint Appliance ads that aired during the popular sit-com The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Yup, that's really her.  She left the role after 39 commercials, as she was unable to conceal her pregnancy in the elf costume.

Her first regular television role was in the David Janssen series Richard Diamond, Private Detective.  She played a glamorous and mysterious telephone receptionist, really, never showing her face on screen.  She'd make guest appearances in other popular series of the day, including The Tab Hunter Show and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1961, Moore shot to stardom on the popular sit-com The Dick Van Dyke Show (right) as the title character's wife, Laura Petrie.  The show was loosely based on creator Carl Reiner's own experiences as a writer on the Sid Caesar variety series Your Show of Shows.  The series ran for five seasons and 158 episodes, earning Moore two Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

In 1970, Moore and her husband Grant Tinker, himself a television executive, approached CBS with a proposal for a new series.  Focusing on the star herself, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (below) would break the traditional TV mold by featuring Moore as single woman Mary Richards, trying to make a career for herself as a television journalist.  The series ran for seven seasons and often incorporated social and political themes of the day, including the Women's Movement.  Moore would win an additional four Emmy Awards for this series.  It also generated three spin-off series for CBS, including Rhoda (1974-78), Phyllis (1975-77), and Lou Grant (1977-82).

Shortly after the series ended, Moore returned to New York and the Broadway stage. She starred opposite James Naughton in 96 performances of Whose Life Is It Anyway, then later starred in 164 performances of the May-December romance story, Sweet Sue.  She'd also return to the silver screen as well, with memorable appearances in such films as Ordinary People (1980) and Six Weeks (1982).

Moore continued acting throughout the 1990s, eventually retiring in the early 21st century. She settled in Connecticut and enjoyed the quiet life.  In early 2017, she began experiencing symptoms of cardiopulmonary arrest and was admitted to Greenwich Hospital.  While there, she developed pneumonia and was placed on a ventilator.  She ultimately passed away on January 25th.  Moore was 80 years old.

Moore was laid to rest at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Pro tip: If you go to pay your respects, wear boots!

Location: Plot D-27

Rest in peace.

  • Moore authored two books about her life and career.  You can order a copy of both After All (1995) and Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes (2009) from Amazon.

  • Moore was a descendant of Lewis Tilgham Moore, a Lieutenant Colonel who fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

  • In 1969, Moore received a Golden Turkey Award for her performance in the Elvis Presley film Change of Habit.  She was recognized in the category "The Ecclesiastical Award for the Worst Performance by an Actor or Actress as a Clergyman or Nun."  Moore claimed to be thrilled for the recognition.  If you do nothing else today, be sure to watch the film's trailer on YouTube.  

  • That same year, Moore and Tinker founded MTM Enterprises, a successful television production company that would go on to produce such memorable series as The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cicinnati, Hill Street Blues, and many more iconic series.  The orange cat seen meowing at the end of every MTM production was named "Mimsie."

  • Moore returned to New York in the early 1980s, taking with her a collection of memorabilia from her years in Hollywood.  Included in this collection was the beret she had so famously tossed into the air during her show's opening credits.  She kept these items in a storage locker in her apartment building, which vandals soon broke into. Their whereabouts today remain a mystery.

  • The soundstage for The Mary Tyler Moore Show was later used for That 70's Show.  In 2006, Moore made a series of memorable guest appearances on the latter series.

  • In 2002, a statue commemorating Moore's iconic beret toss was created and placed at the Minneapolis intersection made famous in the show's opening credits.  It can be found outside Nicolet Mall.

  • Moore's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 7201 Hollywood Boulevard.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Jackie Cooper: Actor, Director and Veteran


Jackie Cooper was born John Cooper, Jr. in Los Angeles, on September 15, 1922.  It's an ironic name considering that John, Sr. walked out on the family when the boy was just two years old.  Cooper's mother, a stage pianist, was left to raise Jackie on her own, later remarrying a studio production manager.

By the time he was three, Cooper was already making a name for himself in Hollywood, attending auditions with his maternal grandmother.  After a few bit parts, he was introduced to director Hal Roach, who hired Cooper for his Our Gang series of shorts, playing that little rascal, Jackie. His character was most memorable for having a crush on schoolteacher Ms. Crabtree, played by silent-screen vixen June Marlowe.

In 1931, Roach sold Cooper's contract to MGM Studios, who cast the eight-year-old in director King Vidor's classic The Champ, for which Cooper would receive an Academy Award nomination.  Other films during this period include The Bowery (1933) and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1934).

When America entered World War 2, Cooper put his career on hold and enlisted in the United States Navy. Although he'd return to Hollywood following the war, he'd remain in the Naval Reserves for the next forty years, eventually retiring with the rank of Captain.

In the 1950s, Cooper starred on two television sit-coms, including The People's Choice with Patricia Breslin and Hennessy with Abby Dalton. He also made guest appearances on shows popular at the time, including the legal drama Justice and The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom (actual title).

By the 1960s, Cooper had moved behind the camera and was serving as Vice President of Program Development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems TV division.  During this time, he oversaw production of the classic series Bewitched, while occasionally acting as well, making a memorable appearance in the 1964 Twilight Zone episode Caesar and Me.

Cooper left Columbia in 1969, continuing to both act and direct with other Hollywood studios.  During this time, he directed several early episodes of the sit-com M*A*S*H, for which he won the 1974 Emmy Award for Best Directing in Comedy.  Other series he directed during this time include The White Shadow, for which he'd also win the Emmy Award.

Unbelievably, Cooper's greatest claim to fame was still yet to come.  In 1977, he was cast in the $40 million Richard Donner blockbuster Superman, playing newspaper editor Perry White.  The film was an international success, introducing Cooper to a new generation of fans.  He'd reprise the role in all three sequels, including Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, one of his final film roles.

Cooper retired in the 1990s and stayed active for the more than 20 years.  By 2011 however, his health was in decline and he'd succumb to natural causes on May 3rd of that year.  Although survived by two sons, he had outlived his wife and two daughters.

Jackie Cooper was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemtery outside Washington, DC.

Location: Section #64, Site #1903

Rest in peace.

  • Cooper released his autobiography, Please Don't Shoot My Dog, in 1981. Of his time directing M*A*S*H, he wrote that the only two actors who weren't a pain to work with were Larry Linville and Wayne Rogers.

  • During his Naval service, Cooper was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

  • When Cooper received his Academy Award nomination at age nine, he was the youngest person to ever do so, a title he still holds to this day.

  • While serving in the Naval Reserves in 1977, Cooper gave the oath of enlistment to fellow former child actor Jay North, star of Dennis the Menace.

  • Between 1980 and 1982, Cooper directed seven made-for-TV movies.  One of these was the 1982 film Moonlight, for which Cooper used the industry pseudonym Alan Smithee.  

  • Cooper continued directing even after he had retired, most notably on the syndicated television series Superboy.

  • Cooper's star on the Hollywood Walf of Fame can be found at 1507 Vine Street.