Mary Tyler Moore, who died on Wednesday at 80, didn’t just influence a generation of career-oriented women like Oprah Winfrey to envision a world for themselves outside of the home — she also had a lasting effect on comedy as a whole.
Just ask Ray Romano.
The 59-year-old comedian opened up about the influence the late star has on his hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond — which, like Moore’s The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, aired on CBS.
“Those were the beginnings of the classic sitcoms,” Romano told Entertainment Tonight. “Both those shows were kind of pioneers in that style, in that format — and she was a pioneer herself, just to play a career woman when there really weren’t any on TV.”
“Her style was very real,” he continued. “It was a sitcom, which could be big and broad, but there was something so real about her. That’s kind of when we did our show that was one of the shows we tried to emulate, you know? That kind of style.”
Everybody Love Raymond aired for nine seasons, beginning in 1996. Like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, it was a critical and commercial success — winning 15 Emmys, including one for Romano and two for outstanding comedy series. (The Mary Tyler Moore Show won 29 Emmys, including three for Moore and three for outstanding comedy series.)
Romano only met Moore once, but he remembers the experience fondly. “She was so nice to me,” he said. “From everything I hear about her she was just … who she was on camera was just who she was. She was just a great person.”
“It’s a sad loss,” he continued. “She was just brilliant with the comedy. … She did a lot for all of us.”