America’s Favorite Local TV News Producer Has Died

By Chris Ariens 

Mary Tyler Moore, the actress who starred as “spunky” TV news producer Mary Richards on the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died. Moore died today in a Connecticut hospital. She was 80 and had suffered for much of her life from Type 1 diabetes.

Mary Tyler Moore starred in The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s, but for many, Mary Richards was her most famous role. And for those who worked in TV news in the 1980s and 90s, WJM-TV in Minneapolis was their first taste of what working in a local TV newsroom must be like, with the tough but lovable news director Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner, dimwitted anchorman Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight, judgmental Happy Homemaker host, Sue Ann Nivens, played by Betty White and the smart and sassy newswriter Murray Slaughter played by Gavin MacLeod.

Moore’s character moves to Minneapolis after being jilted by her boyfriend. She applies for a secretarial job at WJM, but is offered the position of associate producer when Grant tells her she’s got “spunk.”


In 1969, Moore and her then-husband, television executive Grant Tinker, who died in November, co-founded MTM Enterprises, which produced TV shows from the 1970s to the 1990s. Their first project was The Mary Tyler Moore Show which ran for 7 seasons on CBS, starting Sept. 19, 1970. Many of the opening sequences were filmed in and around Minneapolis. The show would lead to three spin-offs including Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant.