Phyllis Lindstrom

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Phyllis Lindstrom
Ted Baxter for councilman 1974.JPG
Phyllis talks Ted into running for local office.
First appearance"Love Is All Around"
September 19, 1970
Last appearance"The Last Show"
March 19, 1977
Created byJames L. Brooks and Allan Burns
Portrayed byCloris Leachman
OccupationAssistant at Erskine Photography Studio
Administrative Assistant to San Francisco City Supervisor
SpouseLars Lindstrom (deceased)
ChildrenBess Lindstrom

Phyllis Lindstrom, nee Sutherland, portrayed by Cloris Leachman, is a fictional character on the television sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and subsequent spin-off, Phyllis.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show[edit]

Phyllis Lindstrom is Mary Richards' snobbish, self-absorbed and interfering friend and downstairs neighbour in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She is the wife of dermatologist Dr. Lars Lindstrom whom Phyllis frequently mentions and quotes, though he is never seen by the audience. (Lars was also the name of Cloris Leachman's husband-to-be on the 1962 Laramie episode titled "Trial by Fire".[1]) It is later revealed to Mary and another friend and neighbour Rhoda Morgenstern, that the Lindstroms manage the large Minneapolis boarding house in which they all live. Mary also develops a close relationship with Phyllis's daughter Bess.

Rhoda and Phyllis maintain an adversarial but talkative relationship. Phyllis had actively prevented Rhoda from switching apartments to the newly vacated apartment she had earmarked for Mary that Mary ultimately took.

Phyllis was a recurring character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, appearing in a total of 35 episodes. She was in 12 of 24 episodes for season 1, 12 of 24 episodes for season 2, 4 of 24 episodes for season 3, 3 of 24 episodes for season 4, 3 of 24 episodes for season 5, and one episode in season 7.

In season 4 opener "The Lars Affair", Phyllis clashes with Sue Ann Nivens who hosts The Happy Homemaker on WJM-TV, after Sue Ann and Lars have an affair. The second meeting of Phyllis and Sue Ann was in episode "Phyllis Whips Inflation", Phyllis's final appearance in The Mary Tyler Moore Show before moving to her spin-off series. Colleagues attempt to prevent their accidentally meeting at the studio; when they do it is played off as a joke and the self-centred Phyllis plaintively asks Sue Ann if there are any jobs available on her show.

Phyllis appeared in the first two episodes of fellow The Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff Rhoda.

Phyllis (and Rhoda) return for one scene in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This was Phyllis's only return to The Mary Tyler Moore Show after the spinoff.


Audrey and Phyllis in the premiere episode of Phyllis

In 1975 Leachman left The Mary Tyler Moore Show to star in spin-off series Phyllis. In the spin-off Phyllis and Bess relocate to Phyllis's hometown San Francisco after the death of Lars.

Phyllis and Bess live with Lars' mother Audrey and Audrey's new husband Judge Jonathan Dexter. Phyllis's major nemesis is Jonathan's mother, Sally (Judith Lowry), a sharp-tongued, irritable, impatient woman known as Mother Dexter. Mother Dexter gets along well with Bess.

Mary Tyler Moore appears in two episodes as Mary Richards: one in season 1 and one in season 2.

In the first season Phyllis works at Erskine Photography Studio. In the second and last season the series was retooled with Phyllis switching to work as administrative assistant for a city supervisor.


  1. ^ "Trial by Fire".