(Almost) Meeting Mary Tyler Moore

I’d like to say I met Mary Tyler Moore at one of her weddings.

I jumped at the chance to try. Like Mary Richards, the star of Moore’s groundbreaking TV comedy about being a single girl working in TV news in the big city, I was doing the same. I was a baby of 30 living for career at the NBC affiliate at 30 Rock in New York. (This was long before Tina Fey, but not SNL. A big perk of working weekends was to sneak in and watch Eddie Murphy doing genius stuff like “James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party.”

My producer, not exactly her boss Lou Grant, instructed me and a camera crew to head to Moore’s wedding, which was happening that night, and to “get something” for the 11pm newscast, which was fast approaching.

Moore’s third marriage to a younger man, a cardiologist, was supposed to take place shortly at the very exclusive Pierre hotel. We cleverly staked out a spot at a side door along with all the other camera crews. Since nothing was happening yet, I traipsed around a tiny vestibule, making like Audrey Hepburn, wide-eyed at a Bulgari jewelry display. (My first and only encounter with the brand).

My deadline started creeping up, and with it, my anxiety level. Obviously, something was going on somewhere. Just not where we were. Security saw to that.

I couldn’t even fathom returning to the newsroom empty-handed.

Finally, an arrival. Cousins of the groom, as I recall. They must have misunderstood the directions because they stumbled into the media circus. I remember pleading with them to say something, anything, that I could rush back and put on the news.

“We’re sure Mary and Robert (that was his name) will be very happy,” they said in singsong accents that were more Rhoda Morgenstern than Mary Richards.

Then the god of celebrity news smiled on me again in the form of  the late Ted Knight, who played Mary’s bumbling anchorman, Ted Baxter. Headed our way, all smiles, stumbling through a door.

“Wrong door, Ted,” someone said, and the crowd laughed. Wow! Just like the show!

It was enough to work with, which was good because I was out of time.

I never saw the bride but at least I kept my TV news job. I’d like to think Mary Richards would have smiled that smile and said, “Good going.”

(Little did I know that I would eventually write for one of the anchors that Ted Baxter was supposedly modeled after —late L.A. legend Jerry Dunphy.)

Good times.

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