The Mary Tyler Moore Show wrapped with its seventh and final season four decades ago, but the long-running sitcom is notably one of the most beloved comedies to ever grace TV — and arguably has one of the most memorable series finales.
In 1977, series star Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 80, and her fellow cast members said goodbye to the sitcom in a heartwarming final scene.
In the script, the group was instructed to share one large embrace and then separate shortly after — but improvisation took over and the scene became Moore’s “favorite scene” from more than 160 episodes in which she starred.
“The producers and writers wanted to go onto other things. And at the time, it was incumbent on me to profess absolute belief that this was the smart thing to do to go off while we were ahead and on top, but I was crumbling inside. I didn’t want it to end. Again, it was my family,” Moore said in an interview about why the series came to an end.
“In my favorite moment from that show was the group hug, which came about just spontaneously. But there we were all embracing each other and somebody said, ‘We need a Kleenex,’ and Georgia Engel’s line was, ‘Well, there’s a Kleenex on Mary’s desk,’ ” Moore explained about the final moment from the series.
“And somehow we all just kind of did that little step. In the script, it was written that they break up and they go to the Kleenex,” said Moore, who added, “but wasn’t that a pot of gold?”
Moore starred as Mary Richards, an associate producer for a small TV station, in the James L. Brooks and Allan Burns-created comedy, which won three Golden Globes and a treasure trove of Emmys.
Reflecting on the last and final moment of the show — when Mary Richards enters the office space and turns off the light — Moore said, “Coming back into the newsroom as I do at the very end to turn off, take a last look around and turn off the light, was very meaningful on a couple of levels.”
The actress, who was awarded a Life Achievement Award at the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards, is survived by her husband of more than 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine.