By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 26, 2001 04:43 PM

She can still turn the world on with her smile, but Mary Tyler Moore almost didn’t become immortalized in the form of her sitcom self, Mary Richards. Minneapolis city officials were slow to embrace a plan to erect a statue of Moore as Richards, tossing her hat in the air in the middle of the city’s downtown area. The New York Times reports that the TV Land cable channel commissioned a $55,000 bronze sculpture by Wisconsin artist Gwendolyn Gillen that shows “Mare” doing her familiar gesture — tossing up her hat, as depicted in the opening credits of classic ’70s sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” But criticism developed over the idea, which some said was too much of a promotional gimmick, albeit confirmation of an important era in the city’s history. (TV Land is also responsible for the bronze statue of the late Jackie Gleason, in his “Honeymooners” guise as bus driver Ralph Kramden, which adorns the exterior of New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.) “The sentiment is mixed, but the majority of artists couldn’t care less about it,” said Jack Becker of Forecast Public Artworks, a group that finances public art. To further cloud the issue, the original unveiling date was to have been this fall, but that plan was put on hold after the Sept. 11 attacks. Still, like in most episodes of the show, there’s a happy ending: The sculpture is now scheduled to be installed in April, spokeswoman Mary Altman of the Minneapolis Office of Cultural Affairs told the Associated Press. Mary’s tam will be just leaving her fingers as it makes its way into the air.