The Mary Tyler Moore Show opening sequence

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First scene of the The Mary Tyler Moore Show opening sequence.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show opening sequence is an element of the American television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In 1999, Entertainment Weekly picked Mary Richards' hat toss at the end of the sequence as the 1970s' second-greatest television moment.[1] The theme song, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis.

Scenes[edit]

The original opening title sequence for the show begins with the name of its star across the screen in Peignot font, which then multiplies both upward and downward vertically in a number of colors, followed by a montage of Mary driving towards Minneapolis towards her new home, and walking in her new neighborhood. In the final shot, she cheerfully tosses her Tam o' Shanter in the air in the middle of the street; a freeze-frame captures her smiling face and the hat in mid-air.

The sequence was created by Reza Badiyi who had also done the opening sequence for Hawaii Five-O. Badiyi came up with the idea for the final shot, which Entertainment Weekly ranked as the second greatest moment in 1970's television.[1] An older woman can be seen in the background, obviously puzzled by the sight of a young woman tossing her hat in the air. This unwitting "extra" was Hazel Frederick, a lifelong Minnesota resident who happened to be out shopping the day the sequence was shot. Mrs. Frederick finally met Moore in 1994 when she was on a book tour for her autobiography, After All. Moore introduced Frederick as "my co-star".[2]

The theme visuals were changed significantly after season 1, and were usually 'tweaked' every season thereafter (In later seasons, David Davis is given a credit for "Title Visualization"). The "driving to Minneapolis" sequence was dropped, and the theme now featured brief shots of Mary, mostly engaging in everyday activities around Minneapolis as well as interacting with the newsroom staff. In a brief sequence set in the newsroom, Mary hugged Lou, Murray and Ted, accidentally crushing Ted's fedora in the process, before straightening it out. (This was a scene from the end of the 1970 episode "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid", although the producers eventually re-shot this sequence for use in the opening credits from the fourth season onward.)

Also seen during early seasons were shots featuring Mary and Rhoda in Mary's apartment, as well as a shot of Mary and Phyllis, which was inserted into episodes in which Phyllis appeared (her portrayor, Cloris Leachman was a semi-regular, and did not appear in every episode). During seasons 4 and 5, the interior shot of Mary and Rhoda was replaced with a brief shot of Mary and Rhoda walking down a Minneapolis street, laughing. This shot remained until Valerie Harper left the series in late 1974, although it also appeared in two 1975 episodes. The characters of Sue Ann and Georgette, both semi-regular characters after season 4, never appeared in the opening credit sequence.

No matter what other changes were made from year to year, however, the iconic final hat-tossing shot (which featured Hazel Frederick) was retained in every iteration of the theme. For her own sitcom, Rhoda, Harper is seen on a New York street during the end credits attempting to do the same hat toss then clumsily flubs it and picking it up walking off.

Other clips used in later versions of the theme:

  • From 1973 to the end of the show's run in 1977, Mary is shown washing her car while wearing the #10 home jersey of Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
  • Some of the scenes show Mary interacting with crew members. In one, the camera zooms in on Mary eating at a cafe in the upstairs lobby of the Minneapolis IDS building with an older man, Moore's then-husband, Grant Tinker, who served as president of MTM Enterprises until 1981. Another scene shows Mary walking in the park, where she is passed by two joggers: co-creator James L. Brooks and producer David Davis.[3]
  • In later seasons, Mary is shown looking at a package of meat at a supermarket, then rolling her eyes as she throws it into her shopping cart. This is a reference to the high consumer inflation during the mid-70s.[4] In 2009, CBS's Nancy Giles, commenting on the high cost of small packages of food, showed this clip and said that it seems only she and Mary Richards buy them.[5]

Theme song[edit]

"Love Is All Around"
Single by Sonny Curtis
from the album Love Is All Around
Released July 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 1980
Length 2:44
Label Elektra Records
Writer(s) Sonny Curtis

The theme song, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis (often mistakenly attributed to Paul Williams; Pat Williams wrote the show's music). The first season's lyrics are words of encouragement directed to the character, referring to the end of a previous relationship and making a fresh start, beginning with "How will you make it on your own?" and concluding with "You might just make it after all."[6] The more familiar version of the song used in seasons 2-7 changed the lyrics to affirm her optimistic character, beginning with "Who can turn the world on with her smile?" and concluding with a more definitive "You're gonna make it after all."[7] An instrumental version of the tune was used for the show's closing credits.

An instrumental version of the song was used for the opening of Moore's 1979 variety series, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. In 1980, Curtis released a full-length version of "Love is All Around." It reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

The song has been covered by artists such as Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Christie Front Drive, Sammy Davis Jr., and Twin Cities-based Hüsker Dü, the latter who also reproduced several scenes of the opening on location for their music video. The song was also featured in a long-running commercial for Chase bank in the mid-2000s, and was sung in the TV series 7th Heaven in the episode "In Praise of Women" during the birth of the Camden twins. A dance version was featured in the 1995 Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped.

Minneapolis locations[edit]

Nicollet Mall[edit]

Many of the outdoor scenes in the opening sequence were filmed along Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. In 2001, The New York Times stated that it is not unusual for people walking along the mall to be so reminded of the show that they toss their hats in the air, as Mary did at the end of the sequence.[8]

The iconic hat toss was filmed at the intersection with 7th Street. On May 8, 2002, cable TV network TV Land dedicated an 8-foot (2.4 m) tall bronze statue of Moore tossing her hat near that intersection.[9] Many in the press were skeptical of TV Land's motive at first, some claiming it was a marketing strategy, and one Macalester College professor stating that it was "like honoring a unicorn."[10] Moore herself unveiled the statue, where 3,000 tams were distributed to the crowd of onlookers so they could participate in a commemorative hat toss.[9]

The Dayton's department store in the background of some of those scenes (later a Marshall Field's and now a Macy's) has changed considerably in appearance. In fact, the exact spot where the cap toss occurred was debated extensively, because the layout along Nicollet has changed substantially since the early 1970s due to urban renewal. The actual backdrop of the scene, the Donaldson's department store kittycorner to the site, was destroyed in 1982 by the Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire.

IDS Center[edit]

The IDS Center was under construction when the original opening sequence was filmed. For an updated sequence used during the fourth season, Mary visited the recently completed IDS Center and was seen riding up the escalator in the Crystal Court. This exposure on prime-time television pre-dated, by two months, the official presentation by architect Philip Johnson of the completion of the project in Architectural Forum.[11] Another scene from the same building showed Mary dining with a man at what is now the Mary Tyler Moore table at Basil's Restaurant. In 2006, the manager of Basil's said that his customers still frequently request the table where Mary sat.[12] The IDS Center is located across the street from Midwest Plaza, which was used for establishing shots of Mary's workplace.[13]

Highway[edit]

Scenes showing Mary driving a white 1970 Ford Mustang toward Minneapolis in the first-season sequence were supposedly filmed on Interstate 494 (the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington, at the time a Radisson, can be seen in the background) and approaching downtown Minneapolis on the Trunk Highway 65 spur from northbound I-35W. Furthermore, an aerial shot that prominently features the Basilica of Saint Mary features US 12 (now Interstate 394) heading west away from the city near the exit to Lyndale Ave. Interstate 94, which nowadays runs behind the Basilica from the aerial's vantage point, was not yet completed in the area at the time the aerial film was shot.

Reception[edit]

In 1997, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called the sequence one of the best in history.[14] In 2010, TV Guide, ranked the sequence #3 on its list of TV's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.[15]

Cultural references and parodies[edit]

The sequence has been referenced and parodied numerous times. Oprah Winfrey recreated the entire opening sequence of the show in Chicago, with herself in the role of Mary. The All New Alexei Sayle Show parodies the opening credits in its opening sequence, with Alexei Sayle dancing through the streets of London to the theme song 'Life's a Big Banana Sandwich'. In the "Saturdays of Thunder" episode of The Simpsons (also produced by Mary Tyler Moore creator James L. Brooks), Homer criticizes his sister-in-law Patty's Mary Tyler Moore style hairdo, to which her sister Selma insists he be ignored, retorting, "You can turn the world on with your smile," in reference to the theme song's opening lyric.[16]

Often, the hat toss is the main focus of the parody. During the closing credits of the spin-off Rhoda, she also tries to fling her hat in the air while in the middle of Times Square, but it just falls to the ground and she must sheepishly pick it up. In the episode "And Maggie Makes Three" of The Simpsons, while working at a bowling alley, Homer spins around singing, "I'm gonna make it after all!", and tosses a bowling ball in the air, denting the hardwood floor when it falls. In the first episode of Suddenly Susan, Brooke Shields' character hears the theme song from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and throws her remote control in the air. It hits her in the head.[17] Peter Griffin wins a piano competition in the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent" by playing "Love is all around." Afterwards, during the audience's applause a girl throws her hat in the air and freezes, while those around her look perplexed as to why she and the hat are not moving. On the series Girlfriends, Maya throws her hat in the air after arriving in New York City to meet with a book publisher; the hat is caught by someone walking nearby, who runs off with it.

In the Scrubs season one episode, "My 15 Minutes", Elliot takes a cab downtown at night. The Mary Tyler Moore theme plays as Elliot emerges from her cab. She twirls around and tosses her hat into the air and the music stops with a jolt when a young man bumps into her. He grabs the hat and sticks it on his head and keeps walking. The Latest Buzz twice parodies the hat toss: in the pilot "The First Issue", Rebecca (one of the new teen writers of Teen Buzz magazine) throws her hat up before leaving the office, which fails to come down; this is revisited in the series finale "The Final Issue" (which involves the staff's firing, similar to the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show), as one of the replacement teen writers, Lucy, does the toss with the same result, down to Rebecca giving the same advice to Lucy that her boss DJ gave to her during her first week on the job after the hat toss mishap.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Top 100 Moments In Television". Entertainment Weekly. February 19, 1999. 
  2. ^ "Mary's 'Co-Star' Dies At 91". CBS News. December 1, 1999. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  3. ^ Moore on Sunday The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season (Disc Three Side B), [2005]
  4. ^ David Marc (1997). Comic visions: television comedy and American culture (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-57718-003-6. 
  5. ^ CBS Sunday Morning, Nov. 20, 2009
  6. ^ 1st Season Opening Song (YouTube)
  7. ^ 2nd Season Opening Song (YouTube)
  8. ^ "Minneapolis Bestowing Immortality on a Sitcom Tam-Tosser". The New York Times. 26 December 2001. 
  9. ^ a b Ellen Crean, Time To Toss Your Tam; Mary Tyler Moore's Minneapolis Statue, CBS News, The Early Show, May 9, 2002
  10. ^ Marisa Helms (2001-03-30). "Mary Tyler Moore Statue Stirs Debate". Minnesota Public Radio News & Features. Minnesota Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2001-03-30. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  11. ^ Ernest Pascucci (1997). "Intimate (Tele)visions". In Deborah Berke and Steven Harris. Architecture of the everyday. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-56898-114-7. 
  12. ^ Nelson, Rick (30 August 2006). "Counter Intelligence: Spiffed-up Basil's opening next week". StarTribune. 
  13. ^ "Facts about the IDS tower". StarTribune. July 14, 2004. 
  14. ^ "What USA'a `La Femme Nikita' Lacks in Stars it has in Pizzazz.". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. June 21, 1997.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  15. ^ Tomashoff, Craig. "Credits Check" TV Guide, October 18, 2010, Pages 16-17
  16. ^ The Simpsons television show, episode 8F07
  17. ^ James, Caryn (September 19, 1996). "When Life Turns Goofy, Glamour Is a Real Asset". The New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Victoria E. Johnson (2008). ""You're Gonna Make It After All!"". Heartland TV: prime time television and the struggle for U.S. identity. NYU Press. pp. 129–134. ISBN 978-0-8147-4293-8.