News of the Week: Mary Tyler Moore, the Last Jedi, and Resolutions We Didn’t Keep

RIP Mary Tyler Moore, Butch Trucks, and Mike Connors

Photo by Philippe Halsman

The girl who could turn the world on with her smile has passed away, and a big part of pop culture is gone too.

Mary Tyler Moore, famous for playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died Wednesday at the age of 80. She had been dealing with many health problems for decades, including type 1 diabetes and brain surgery in 2011.

Moore also earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Ordinary People and had a memorable role in the comedy Flirting with Disaster. She also appeared in movies like Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Elvis Presley movie Change of Habit, and TV shows like the miniseries Lincoln, 77 Sunset Strip, The George Burns Show, Hawaiian Eye, Frasier, Hot in Cleveland, and other shows where she was the lead, including Mary, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, Annie McGuire, and New York News. Only her legs were seen in the ’50s series Richard Diamond, Private Eye, where she played David Janssen’s secretary. She won seven Emmy Awards and graced the November 19, 1966, cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Her production company, named MTM Enterprises and famous for its mewing kitten logo, was responsible for shows like Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant, Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, WKRP in Cincinnati, and many others. She got her start playing Happy Hotpoint in commercials that ran during The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.

Many costars and friends are paying tribute to Moore, including Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Rose Marie, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Larry Mathews (who played little Ritchie Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show), CBS chairman Les Moonves, and many others. Fans are also gathering at many of the Minneapolis locations seen in the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Butch Trucks was the co-founder of and drummer (along with Jai Johanny Johanson) for The Allman Brothers. He played on such classic songs as “Ramblin’ Man,” “Whipping Post,” “Trouble No More,” and “One Way Out.” He passed away Tuesday at the age of 69. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of The Allman Brothers in 1995.

Trucks was part of a big musical family. His son Vaylor plays guitar for The Yeti Trio. His nephew Derek Trucks played guitar with The Allman Brothers and also plays with The Tedeschi Trucks Band. And Derek’s brother Duane plays drums for the bands Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans.

Actor Mike Connors, who passed away Thursday from leukemia at the age of 91, was best known as Joe Mannix on Mannix, the detective drama that ran on CBS from 1968 to 1975. He also appeared in a number of movies, including The Ten Commandments, Sudden Fear, Five Guns West, Day the World Ended, and in TV shows like Tightrope, Gunsmoke, The Untouchables, M Squad, the miniseries War and Remembrance, and Murder, She Wrote. He also portrayed the Mannix character on Heres Lucy and Diagnosis: Murder and in the 2003 comedy film Nobody Knows Anything. His last role was a 2007 episode of Two and a Half Men.

His real name was Kreker Ohanian, and early in his career he went as “Touch” Connors.

The Last Jedi

That’s the title of the next Star Wars movie. Actually, the official title is Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I don’t want to face the wrath of hardcore Star Wars fans by getting it wrong. Those Trekkies can be unforgiving.

But what does the title mean? Does it mean that Luke Skywalker is that Jedi and he’s going to die? Does it mean that he’ll die and then Rey will be the last Jedi? Is Rey related to Luke? Does it actually refer to Kylo Ren? Does it refer to a character we haven’t even seen yet? Can I ask anymore questions in this paragraph?

As The Telegraph explains, the term “the last Jedi” was used to describe Luke in the opening crawl in The Force Awakens, so it’s a pretty good bet it refers to him. Unless it doesn’t!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will hit theaters in December. I’d get in line right now.

And the Nominees Are …

I don’t want to rehash all of the news this week about the Oscars. You can see all the nominations here and read about the 14 nominations La-La Land received, which ties the record set by Titanic and All About Eve, here. It’s more fun to talk about the snubs!

A lot of people thought that Martin Scorsese would get a Best Director nomination for Silence, but neither he nor the film were nominated. Clint Eastwood (Sully) and Denzel Washington (Fences) didn’t get director nominations either (and some are upset that the Academy instead gave controversial Mel Gibson a nomination for directing Hacksaw Ridge), though Washington did get a Best Actor nomination. Taraji P. Henson wasn’t nominated for her role as real-life NASA computer scientist Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures, though her co-star Octavia Spencer got a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Many people thought that Annette Bening would get a nomination for 20th Century Women, but maybe that movie is getting lost in all of the award talk. Even Tom Hanks wasn’t nominated this year. Isn’t that against the law?

I haven’t yet seen any of the movies nominated, but I’m going to make a bold Oscar prediction anyway. He’s going to be really messy while Felix is going to be really neat.

The Real Story behind McDonald’s

Last April I posted the trailer for The Founder, the movie released last week that stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald’s into an international fast food powerhouse. But the title is sort of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink joke, because, as this story from this week’s CBS Sunday Morning explains, Kroc wasn’t really “the founder.”

By the way, Keaton didn’t get an Oscar nomination either.

How Are You Doing with Your New Year’s Resolutions?

We’re almost a full month into 2017. Given up yet?

According to a 2015 poll, 60 percent of people who make resolutions give up on them by the time February rolls around.

Maybe we should start our resolutions in December instead of January, so we won’t have that “new year” pressure and feel like we have to get better and get better quickly. But that wouldn’t work either. You can’t resolve to save money or get in shape at Christmas, when you have to buy new phones for the kids and you’re eating 19 pieces of pumpkin pie.

I can’t say that I’m eating healthier so far this year (I had nachos for dinner the other night), but I’m actually sticking to a couple of other resolutions I made. Yeah, I’m shocked too.

This Week in History

Elizabeth Blackwell becomes first woman M.D. in the U.S. (January 23, 1849)

The British-born Blackwell was also the first woman on the U.K. Medical Register.

Sir Winston Churchill dies (January 24, 1965)

A lot was made recently of the fact that a bust of the former British prime minister was returned to the White House when President Trump took office. Here’s the real story.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Former Figure” (January 26, 1957)

1/26/1957 cover with “This Week in Saturday Evening Post History”

Here’s the cover for the January 26, 1957, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. It’s by Amos Sewell, and it’s called Former Figure. This woman seems to be remembering when she could fit into a dress that could fit on that dress form. Maybe she couldn’t stick to her New Year’s resolution either.

Today Is National Chocolate Cake Day

As Rob explains to Laura in the “Lady and the Babysitter” episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, chocolate cake is milk cake. You can’t eat it with coffee or grape juice. So make sure you have some milk handy while you make this One Bowl Chocolate Cake, this Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake from Hershey, or this Childhood Chocolate Cake from Alex Guarnaschelli.

And if chocolate cake doesn’t fit into those New Year’s resolution plans mentioned above, but you still really, really want to eat chocolate cake, try this recipe for Chickpea Chocolate Cake. Sure, it still has chocolate chips and sugar and frosting, but it’s gluten-free and made with chickpeas, so you can at least convince yourself that it’s a little healthier.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

American Heart Month begins (February 1)

February is American Heart Month. And while we should think about our health every month of the year, we have to start somewhere, so it’s a good time to concentrate on our cholesterol numbers, our sodium intake, our stress levels, and having a healthy heart in general.

Groundhog Day (February 2)​

You really can’t trust that little critter to give an accurate reading of how many more weeks of winter we have left, or anything else, according to this investigative report from the January 31, 1948, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate, just view the seasonal aisle of any supermarket or gift shop. And while I love a box of chocolates as much as the next gal, what I really love is something homemade and decadent.

Here is one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes from my Hershey’s Make It Chocolate! cookbook. Please share your favorite indulgence in the comments section.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350º. Grease and flour a rectangular 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Remove from mixer; stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter. Add cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency. Additional milk may be needed. Blend in vanilla.