PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the world reacts to Mary Tyler Moore’s passing, many are remembering how the beloved actress revolutionized women’s roles on television and beyond.
“What sticks with me was just how real it all was for everyday and my life,” said Sandra Fuller, in town on business from Portsmouth, Virginia.
Victoria Tertychny of Havertown added, “She changed things for me, changed the course of action for women.”
“She made a place for herself, so other women realized they could do the same thing,” said Dorothy, a resident of West Philadelphia.
Moore, who got her first big break as a spunky housewife on The Dick Van Dyke show, went on to play a single, 30-something working woman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
“These were roles that were ripe for the social changes that were occurring in the United States,” said Dr. Donnalyn Pompper, a media and communication professor at Temple University and author of Rhetoric of Femininity. She says the 1970’s series was groundbreaking for its time.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show character made it acceptable for women to work outside the home. They could be feminine and still work for a salary in the public sphere.”
Pompper says popular culture, both then and now, can effect social change through humor.
Gregory Green of West Philly agreed, saying “Sometimes humor helps because it lets you see the ridiculousness of the things we’re holding on to in terms of our biases.”
Now, nearly 50 years after Mary made her mark, men and women everywhere are tipping their hats to the woman who was famous for tossing hers.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to these shows because they enabled us to safely examine alternate views and lifestyles in ways we never could before,” said Pompper.