While the Grim Reaper lays in wait for all of us, it was heartbreaking to wave goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore, John Hurt and Barbara Hale. For those of us getting closer to knocking on heaven’s door, these three legendary figures jumped from the screen into our hearts.
Ms. Moore, who was 80 at her death, has already been justifiably praised, and it all began with her playing Laura, Dick Van Dyke’s wife in the comedy series running from 1961 through 1966. I graduated from high school in 1965, and I never missed a show.
Though Mr. Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie were comic geniuses, Ms. Moore brought women out of the closet in multiple ways, not the least of which was daring to wear capri pants and flat shoes on television. And for those who are saying “so what”, professional women today have only recently embraced the styles of Ms. Moore.
But no one will forget her magnificent series simply called Mary Tyler Moore, running for multiple seasons in the early 1970s. She was a single woman in her 30s who sought a professional career without lamenting the fact that she was single. And while Ed Asner, Ted Knight and Gavin MacLeod were central to the series success, magnificent actresses like Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Georgia Engel formed a female cast that continues to make history.
I didn’t miss an episode of this series either, and it was always as funny as it was charming.
John Hurt died at the age of 77. He was a British actor who made significant contributions in film while always playing the second banana. He was fabulous in The Elephant Man (1980), and he memorably played the young man who died after the alien leaped from his chest in Ridley Scott’s movie of the same name (1979). He was brilliant in two of my favorite films, A Man for All Seasons (1966), where his character betrayed Sir Thomas Moore, and V for Vendetta (2005) where he played a Hitler-type dictator in the future.
While he made a great contribution to the Harry Potter movies where he played Mr. Ollivander, you will still see him on the screen today in Jackie, playing a priest who tried to console Mrs. Kennedy after the assassination of her husband. He will be missed.
Finally, I must pay a tribute to Barbara Hale, who died at the age of 94. As the devoted, wise assistant of Perry Mason in the series running from 1957 to 1966, she defined the role of a criminal defense attorney’s secretary. Her name was Della Street, and she played a critical role in the trial success of Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason. She was a lot of things, beautiful being one of them, and I loved that short, dark hair.
Goodbye to all of you. To quote Bob Hope, “Thanks for the memories.”