It’s easy to say that a show redefined television, but it’s much harder to prove. In the case of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, you might say that the proof is all around. The series recreated the mold of the ensemble comedy. It changed the way that comedy shows were directed. It had a cast that was strong enough to spin off three separate characters into their own series (one of which was a drama!). And it wasn’t afraid to engage in very serious topics, including some that were taboo for the time. The show still shows up on “Best of” lists, including best writing, acting, and direction, as well as Best Finale and Funniest Moment (seriously, the Chuckles funeral). It’s a program where everything still holds up remarkably well five decades later. That’s right; The Mary Tyler Moore Show launched 50 years ago, and TV is much better because of it.
Series co-creator Allan Burns started writing in animation, working on Jay Ward productions like The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. He co-created The Munsters and worked as a story editor on Get Smart. James L. Brooks broke into TV news in the 1960s on the writing side. Brooks met Burns at a party, and Burns got him TV writing work. After working on several shows, Brooks created Room 222; when he left after the first year to develop other projects, he got Burns to come aboard as producer. Soon after, Grant Tinker, a programming executive at CBS, hired the duo to create a show for his wife. His wife happened to be Mary Tyler Moore, who was already beloved and famous for her long-running role as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Leaning on Brooks’s background, they decided to build the show around the goings-on in a metropolitan TV newsroom with Moore’s Mary Richards as the associate producer at the center.
The nucleus of the newsroom cast was Moore, Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, and Ted Knight; Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman played Mary’s best friend, Rhoda, and neighbor, Phyllis, respectively. Over the years, as Harper and Leachman left for spin-offs devoted to their characters, the cast would add Georgia Engel and Betty White to great effect. The Mary Tyler Moore Show managed to be both entertaining and relevant. Mary Richards was single throughout the tenure of the show, and not forcing the character to be defined by a man or relationship was groundbreaking. Similarly, Rhoda grappled with body image issues. No character was one-note; even Ted Knight’s Ted Baxter, for his incompetent bluster, had moments of humanity and deepened further when Engel’s Georgette was added to the cast as his wife. The shading of each character, rather than simply assigning a type and relying on it, became a sitcom staple.
While the actors made it all work, the writing and directing had a great deal to do with it. Brooks would apply the dynamics of ensemble building to shows like Taxi and The Simpsons. When you watch an episode like “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” you’re witnessing something akin to an eight-sided tennis match; each character is bouncing jokes and responses back and forth, but the jokes are all rooted in that particular actor’s character. When Mary can’t control her giggles during the clown’s funeral, and later bursts into tears, it’s funny because a) it’s funny, b) it’s believable human behavior, c) it’s all true to what we know about Mary, and d) it’s deeply relatable. If you’re thinking that the same principles apply to many episodes of the show, you’d be right.
Another important facet of the show was the fact that it didn’t turn its back on difficult topics in society. Like the aforementioned personal struggles that Mary and Rhoda had, characters faced personal difficulties or were involved in plots that brought up issues of the day (and today). One memorable moment came in the episode “You’ve Got a Friend;” when Mary’s visiting mother told Mary’s father not to forget to take his pill, he and Mary both replied, “I won’t,” implying, of course, that Mary was on birth control. The show also addressed equal pay for women and many more storylines that remain relevant today.
As the show went on, appreciation for it grew. It pulled in 29 Emmys, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1975, 1976, and 1977. Moore also won three times for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. It was a solid Top 20 entry in the ratings for most of its run, with three years spent in the Top Ten. When the show received a Peabody Award in 1977, it came with the state that the show had “established the benchmark by which all situation comedies must be judged.” Since the show’s end after its seventh and final season, it has routinely placed on lists recounting the best in television, including lists from TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, and USA Today. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America put it number six on their list of the best written television series of all time.
After the series ended in 1977, a third spin-off, Lou Grant, was launched. Ed Asner led the series for five seasons, during which it won 13 Emmys, two Golden Globes, and its own Peabody. Plans were made for Mary and Rhoda to reunite in a sitcom; however, those were later abandoned. Mary and Rhoda did meet up again in the 2000 TV movie Mary and Rhoda. A 2002 reunion special brought the entire surviving cast back together (Knight had passed in 1986) for a retrospective look at the series. Today, all seven seasons are available to watch on Hulu.
After the series, Moore worked continuously across film, television, and theater. She earned an Oscar nomination for her role in 1980’s Ordinary People. She and Tinker divorced in 1981, and she married Robert Levine in 1983. A type 1 diabetic, Moore served for years as the international chairperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She was also active in animal rights and in the restoration and preservation of Civil War history. Moore passed way in 2017 at the age of 80.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show left an indelible mark on television. You can see its DNA in everything from Cheers to Friends to The Office. Any show with a workplace at the center is bound to be compared to it, and any show that features adults talking to each other like adults recalls its boldness. Few shows are daring enough to make you laugh at a clown’s funeral; far fewer could make it one of the most memorable scenes in TV history. A classic by any measure, the show’s impact likely never go away. It certainly made it, after all.
During the run of the show, the Post went behind-the-scenes with Moore in a wide-ranging interview from 1974. You can read that story below.
Featured image: Cast photo from the television program The Mary Tyler Moore Show. After the news that most of the WJM-TV staff has been fired, everyone gathers in the newsroom. From left: Betty White (Sue Ann Nivens), Gavin MacLeod (Murray Slaughter), Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Georgia Engel (Georgette Baxter), Ted Knight (Ted Baxter), Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Richards). (Publicity Image from CBS Television; Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Someone once asked me what my favorite app was, and I told them pen and paper. It’s true. I don’t use a smartphone, and I don’t 100 percent trust “the cloud,” so I’m very old school when it comes to taking notes and keeping things organized. I can’t live without my Moleskine and Field Notes notebooks and my Uni-ball 307 pens. I love the Kindle but I prefer print books. I’m a paper guy.
This BBC article about the joys of paper and the resurgence that it’s having made me smile (a real smile, not an emoji). And it’s not just older people clinging to nostalgia; it’s also millennials and younger people who grew up as digital-first natives. Studies show that people who actually write things down remember them better. There’s something about paper that is vital, necessary, something that will make it last, even if we constantly hear that print books and newspapers are going away and everything is digital digital digital. Or, as my friend William Powers puts it, paper is eternal. [PDF]
How important is paper? Try going to the restroom without it next time. There’s no app for that.
Hair Is Overrated
I’m not saying this because I’m bald, even though I am, well, bald. I’m saying it because it’s science!
According to a University of Pennsylvania study, bald men are seen as more dominant, stronger, and even taller. Considering my height, I don’t really understand the “taller” part of that study, but I’ll take dominant and stronger.
The study also showed that men who are balding should just go ahead and shave off what hair they have left instead of using hair restoration products or doing that horrifying comb-over that isn’t fooling anybody.
The Best Airport in the World Is In…
Come on, guess! Is it in England, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, China? Nope, the best airport in the world is right here in the United States (and no, it’s not in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles).
It’s in Pittsburgh! It’s Pittsburgh International Airport. This is according to Air Transport World magazine, a publication that has been picking the best airport for the past four years. Previous winners are London’s Heathrow, Hong Kong International, and Singapore’s Changi.
I think airports instantly sound more important if they have “international” in their title.
RIP John Hurt, Barbara Hale, John Wetton, Mary Webster, Harold Hayes
John Hurt was an acclaimed veteran actor who appeared in such classic movies as The Elephant Man, Alien, Midnight Express, A Man for All Seasons, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Osterman Weekend, Watership Down, Rob Roy, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, plus several Harry Potter films. On TV he had roles in I, Claudius, The Storyteller, and Doctor Who. He will be seen in four movies later this year. Hurt passed away from cancer last Friday at the age of 77.
Barbara Hale was best known as Perry Mason’s assistant Della Street on the classic series Perry Mason and dozens of TV movies. She also had roles in movies like Airport, Gildersleeve’s Bad Day, The Boy with Green Hair, and The Window, as well as TV shows like Adam-12, Ironside, Playhouse 90, Lassie, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Her death at age 94 was first reported by her son, actor William Katt, star of The Greatest American Hero.
Musician and producer John Wetton was the lead singer and bassist for the supergroup Asia, who had hits like “Heat of the Moment,” “Don’t Cry,” and “Only Time Will Tell.” He was also in the bands UK and King Crimson and had stints in Roxy Music and Uriah Heep. He also released several solo albums over the years. He passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 67.
Mary Webster co-starred in one of my favorite movies, the 1957 Anthony Perkins/Henry Fonda western The Tin Star, as well as Jerry Lewis’s first film without Dean Martin, The Delicate Delinquent. She was also in the Vincent Price sci-fi adventure Master of the World and TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Dr. Kildare, Father Knows Best, Route 66, and The George Burns and Grace Allen Show. She passed away Monday at the age of 81.
Harold Hayes, a true American hero, was the last surviving member of a group of Army medics and nurses who escaped from Nazis during World War II. He was on a plane with 29 others when it was hampered by bad weather and German attacks, forcing it to land in Albania. All 30 of them — one with a badly injured knee — survived the 600-mile trek through hostile territory to freedom. Hayes passed away at the age of 94.
One Last Thing about Mary Tyler Moore
Did you see CBS’s hour-long tribute to Mary Tyler Moore? No? Good. You didn’t miss much. The show was all about Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, as the two talked and talked about how The Mary Tyler Moore Show affected them and how Moore went on Oprah’s show that time and how she empowered women. It looks like it was put together too quickly by someone who learned about Moore by reading Wikipedia. I thought it was more like The Oprah Winfrey Show than a real tribute to Moore, and when I checked Twitter, someone else thought the same thing:
— Dick Van Dyke (@iammrvandy) January 27, 2017
That’s officially my favorite tweet of all time.
Earlier, Van Dyke was interviewed on CBS This Morning, and it’s better than that special, even if Charlie Rose does pronounce the character’s name wrong (it’s PET-rie, Charlie, not PEET-rie):
This Week in History
Prohibition Begins (January 29, 1919)
It lasted until December 5, 1933. Maybe you can remember Prohibition by making some moonshine.
Black Student Sit-In at Woolworth’s (February 1, 1960)
Four students sat in the whites-only section of the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and were refused service. They came back later with more protestors, and the sit-in eventually grew to 300 people, which forced Woolworth’s to change its policy.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Norman Rockwell Born (February 3, 1894)
When you think of The Saturday Evening Post, you also think of artist Norman Rockwell. Here’s a look back at our Rockwell birthday issue from 1984, and here’s a terrific remembrance from his granddaughter Abigail, which includes a gallery of classic Rockwell Post covers.
Super Bowl Recipes
Super Bowl LI is this Sunday. It airs on Fox and starts at 6:30 p.m. ET. Believe it or not, the pre-game starts at 1 p.m., so you have approximately 5 1/2 hours to “get ready” to root for the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons (as a Bay Stater, I have to put the Pats first in this sentence).
One of the things you can do during the afternoon is make food for the big game. Now, I’m going to assume that because this is the Super Bowl, you’re not going to want Beef Wellington or ceviche or a big plate of Papparelle with Sea Urchin and Cauliflower. You want football food. Stuff that’s probably not that great for you and requires a bunch of napkins.
How about these classic chili recipes from Emeril Lagasse? Chips and dips are big on Super Bowl Sunday, so how about this recipe for guacamole? And for drinks and dessert, go on over to the Today show website and get some recipes for root beer floats and Rice Krispies treats that look like football jerseys.
Me? I’ll be watching the game, but only for the commercials.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
National Weatherperson’s Day (February 5)
Four days ago the local meteorologists here said we were only going to get a dusting of snow today. Then, suddenly, yesterday’s forecast changed to 3 to 5 inches and I had to shovel. Maybe this is why we shouldn’t have 5- or 7- or 10-day forecasts. They’re never right.
But people dump on meteorologists all the time, so maybe this is one day we can send them a box of chocolates or an umbrella instead.
Safer Internet Day (February 7)
The safest internet is the one you never log on to, but if that’s not an option for you, you can read our tips for being a smart cyber citizen, learn how to prevent identity theft, and learn how to keep your kids safe when they’re online.
RIP Mary Tyler Moore, Butch Trucks, and Mike Connors
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 Here’s 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.
— Star Wars (@starwars) January 23, 2017
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)
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.
Emmy-winning TV star Mary Tyler Moore died today at the age of 80.
For the generation that remembers her from the 1960s, she’ll always be the perky, sentimental young bride and former-dancer-now-suburban-mom, Laura Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). Later, she played a single career woman — a television first — on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977). Both characters are well remembered, not just for Moore’s Emmy-winning performances, but because they reflected their era so well.
In between these two sitcoms, in 1966, the Post caught up with her as she was preparing to star in Holly Golightly, a musical adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Beyond Moore’s own energetic talents, the show featured Richard Chamberlain, heart-throb star of TV’s Doctor Kildare. In “From TV to Tiffany’s in One Wild Leap,” writer John Bower gives readers a sense of Moore’s energy, her motivation, and the stage fright that dogs her whenever she performs.
Three Movies You Should Watch
Yes, it’s December, and the holiday season has officially begun. We all know what the greatest Christmas movies are. They’re the ones we’ve all watched a million times and watch every year: It’s a Wonderful Life (my favorite movie of all time), Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Holiday Inn, the 97 versions of A Christmas Carol, and all of those TV specials where noses glow red and grinches steal. But I’d like to point you to three Christmas movies that are pretty terrific that you might not be aware of:
- Christmas in Connecticut (1945). This film, like all of the films on this list, is starting to become more known and popular thanks to annual showings on Turner Classic Movies. It stars Barbara Stanwyck as a Martha Stewart-ish columnist who actually knows nothing about the home or cooking and is only pretending to be married with a child. When her boss (Sydney Greenstreet) and a war hero (Dennis Morgan) come to her home for Christmas, chaos ensues! A really fun film.
- Holiday Affair (1949). A Christmas movie with hard-boiled Robert Mitchum might not scream “festive” at first, but he’s actually quite good in this comedy-drama. He plays a department store salesman who falls in love with customer Connie (Janet Leigh), which is a problem because she’s engaged to someone else. (Gordon Gebert, who plays Leigh’s young son, talked about his role at a screening in 2014).
- It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947). Wouldn’t it be fun to break into a mansion owned by a millionaire who spends the holidays someplace else and have complete run of the place with your friends and your dog? That’s the premise of this comedy starring Don DeFore, Victor Moore, Ann Harding, and Alan Hale, Jr.
You can find out when these movies will be shown this month by checking out TCM’s schedule.
In This Corner …
I’ve been keeping you up to date on what’s going on with former America’s Test Kitchen host Christopher Kimball and his new venture, Milk Street Kitchen. The latest news is a plot twist to say the least.
The company that owns America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated has filed a lawsuit accusing Kimball of many things since he left to form the new company, including the poaching of employees and transferring to himself relationships with vendors. Now, lawsuits happen every single day, and it’s not really surprising. What is surprising, however, is that ATK has created an entire website devoted to the lawsuit! It explains why they’re suing, has the text of the complaint, and even has a chronology of what transpired, with copies of Kimball’s emails that supposedly show he did something illegal. This is all pretty stunning (I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before), and like a lot of people I’m curious about how the site will affect the legal proceedings. It must be doubly odd because Kimball still hosts the weekly ATK radio show.
By the way, if you noticed, the URL of the lawsuit’s site is WhyWeAreSuingChristopherKimball.com. It can’t be a good feeling to see a website address that has your name and the word suing in it.
RIP Ron Glass, Fritz Weaver, Ralph Branca, Grant Tinker, and Jim Delligatti
Ron Glass had a lot of roles over the years but is probably best known for playing nattily dressed Detective Ron Harris on Barney Miller. He also had roles on Firefly, All Grown Up, Mr. Rhodes, Amen, and an ’80s reboot of The Odd Couple. He also guest-starred on shows like Murder, She Wrote, Friends, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Glass passed away last week at the age of 71.
Fritz Weaver was an acclaimed actor on the stage, in film, and on television. He appeared in such stage plays as Baker Street (playing Sherlock Holmes), Child’s Play, The Chalk Garden, and Angels Fall. He made his film debut in 1964’s Fail-Safe and also appeared in Marathon Man, Black Sunday, Creepshow, and the Pierce Brosnan remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, along with TV shows like Armstrong Circle Theatre, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Mannix, The X-Files, Law & Order, and the miniseries Holocaust. He passed away last weekend at the age of 90.
Bobby Thompson hit “The Shot Heard ’Round the World” in the final game of the 1951 National League championship series in which the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. The pitcher who gave up that famous home run, Ralph Branca, passed away last week. He was 90.
Grant Tinker was the head of MTM Enterprises in the 1970s. MTM stands for Mary Tyler Moore, whom Tinker was married to for several years. As head of the production company, he was responsible for shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, and Phyllis.
As if that wasn’t enough, in the 1980s he helped save NBC by bringing us The Cosby Show, Cheers, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, Remington Steele, and Night Court. He was also in charge of the TV department of the advertising agency McCann Erickson (which you might remember from Mad Men) in the ’50s and later was an executive with Benton and Bowles, where he got a sponsorship for his client Procter & Gamble on The Dick Van Dyke Show, where he met Moore. I should add that over the last five decades, he also had a hand in shows like Marcus Welby, M.D., I Spy, It Takes a Thief, Dr. Kildare, and Get Smart. That’s quite a track record.
Tinker passed away Wednesday at the age of 90.
Jim Delligatti? He invented the Big Mac! He passed away this week at the age of 98.
What Does Your Smartphone Say about You?
Do you use an iPhone? You might be a liar.
That’s one of the findings of this study from England’s Lancaster University. Researchers concluded that iPhone users tend to be female, younger, and extroverted, while Android users tend to be male, older, more honest, and more agreeable.
In related news, an ex-Google exec says that we’re all addicted to our phones and it might be time to kick the habit. If any of these cartoons look like a scene from your life, you might have a problem. Another good way to check if you’re addicted: Do you keep your phone with you all the time, even when you’re eating holiday dinner with your family? There you go.
La La Land
Sometimes a film comes along and people say, “They don’t make movies like this anymore.” But it’s usually not true. Whatever movie they’re talking about has probably been done a dozen times recently.
La La Land, the new film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, can really be described that way, though. He plays a pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. That makes the film sound rather dull, so here’s a trailer that shows what the movie is all about. It seems to be a modern-day homage to the musicals of the ’40s and ’50s. I can imagine this being shown on Turner Classic Movies in 40 years.
I’m looking forward to this more than I am any Star Wars or Marvel movie. It opens in selected cities on December 9 and elsewhere later in the month.
This Week in History
Samuel Clemens Born (November 30, 1835)
Was the young Clemens — a.k.a. Mark Twain — an amusing scoundrel, a storytelling genius, or both?
Rosa Parks Arrested (December 1, 1955)
The National Archives has a fascinating record of the arrest of the civil rights icon after she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Senate Votes to Censure Joseph McCarthy (December 2, 1954)
The senator’s attack on the U.S. Army was too much for his Congressional colleagues.
National Comfort Food Day
Comfort food is a form of nostalgia. It’s the food that reminds us of our childhoods or a good time in our lives. It’s a memory that figuratively warms us and foods that may literally warm us (even if those foods happen to be cold). Music and movies and TV shows and relationships can take us back to certain times in our lives, and so can food.
This Monday is National Comfort Food Day, and since it’s the holiday season, it’s a food holiday whose placement on the calendar actually makes sense. I don’t know what your personal favorite comfort foods are, but maybe they could include this Cowboy Beef and Black Bean Chili or this Rich Roasted Tomato Soup. Or maybe it’s a Red Velvet dessert that warms your heart. Or maybe a Classic Chicken Soup is all you need.
I like all those things. Which probably says a lot more about me than any smartphone could.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Pearl Harbor Day (December 7)
It’s the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Here’s an excerpt from a feature that ran in The Saturday Evening Post in October 1942, part of our Pearl Harbor special edition available in bookstores now.
Christmas Card Day (December 9)
Facebook may be hurting Christmas card sales, but maybe it’s something you should start doing again. I still send them out every year. So go out and buy some real cards and actually mail them to those you love, instead of sending a text or social media post to wish someone happy holidays.
These Are Christmas Trees
The official lighting of the White House Christmas tree was last night, but if you weren’t there you didn’t see it live. For the first time in 33 years there was no Christmas in Washington special on television. The producers couldn’t find a TV network to air it in time. The event had been on TBS for the past 15 years but 2014 was the last year. Here’s the video:
And here’s this week’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting. It’s the 83rd lighting of the tree (don’t worry, they get a new one every year).
This Isn’t a Christmas Tree
The Web meme You Had One Job highlights job “fails,” those situations where someone had one job to do and they couldn’t even do that right. For example, maybe someone had to paint the word SCHOOL on a street and ended up spelling it wrong.
I thought of this when seeing this story about the Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Trees that look nothing like Christmas trees. If you took the cups out of the package and showed them to someone and asked what the shape was, “Christmas tree” wouldn’t come up in the first 1,000 guesses.
Of course, people are upset and have taken to social media, armed with the hashtags #ReesesTree and #ReesesChristmasTrees. The Hershey Company has apologized and says that it “isn’t the perfect experience we want for our fans.” But come on. They look nothing like trees. They look more like eggs. Maybe that makes things easier for the company when they have to do peanut butter cups that look like Easter eggs come April but it’s not very merry. But if it tastes the same as their regular cups that’s the most important thing. Or as Today’s Willie Geist says, “stop tweeting and start eating.”
The Return of the Cassette Tape
One of the interesting aspects about technology is that old technology eventually comes around again, either as a niche thing or maybe even as a mainstream one. Some people still love pencils and manual typewriters and landline phones and vinyl albums (which even Barnes & Noble is selling, along with turntables) and will never give them up, and now it looks like some people are starting to love cassette tapes all over again.
In this Boston Globe piece, we see that it isn’t something that only unknown bands are putting out or people are creating in their garages. Major bands and major record labels are actually putting out their music on cassettes and vinyl albums again. I remember cassette tapes well. Besides buying them, I used to swap albums with friends and we’d record vinyl albums on the cassette tapes and make mixes, and the quality of the versions we made were often better than the manufactured cassettes. As the article says, beyond portability and nostalgia, I’m not sure what the appeal of cassettes is over other old tech like CDs or vinyl.
Meanwhile, millennials are looking at these things as if they’re quill pens and powdered wigs. I predict the next comebacks we’ll see will be handkerchiefs and movie rental stores.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I’m still not sure about this movie. I’m pretty sure Superman could beat Batman if they got into an actual fight. Batman is just a man, after all, even if he can fight and has some neat gadgets, Superman could just punch him, crush him, set him on fire with his laser eyes, or pick him up and fly him to an ice flow in the Arctic and leave him there until he promises to behave. Maybe the “v” in the title refers to them being on opposite sides of the law in this film. Or maybe Batman has a lot of kryptonite stashed in the Batcave, who knows. I’m assuming they become friendly at some point and join forces because Lex Luthor wants to destroy Gotham and/or Metropolis.
Here’s the new trailer, which debuted this week on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
I like how Superman says to Batman at one point “If I wanted it, you’d be dead already!” so even he knows he could take him.
Now I just want to know why Wonder Woman has to be in this. Isn’t the first meeting between Batman and Superman enough for one movie?
Are You Doing Laundry the Wrong Way?
I’m tempted to just say probably not! and end things there, but hey, maybe you are doing your laundry wrong.
In this video I found on Lifehacker, the Sklar Brothers — whom you might know from their 2004-2006 ESPN show Cheap Seats — explain all of the things that we’re doing with our laundry that we shouldn’t be doing.
Honestly, I think a lot of those are pretty obvious and they’re things we already do or don’t do. Don’t use too much detergent? Don’t overstuff the washer? Wear clothes multiple times? I think we all know these things. I would also add “don’t try to clean your clothes with Listerine” and “don’t throw fish sticks into the dryer to stop static cling.”
I do have a problem with my white socks though. The bottoms are getting blue for some reason. It’s not happening to any of my other clothes when I wash them and it’s only on the bottom of the socks not the top or sides or the inside. Weird.
Game Show Googling
I have a new hobby.
In my obituary for game show host Jim Perry last week, I mentioned that I’ve become obsessed with the game show channel Buzzr. I’m so obsessed with it that I’ve started to watch classic game shows from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s like What’s My Line?, To Tell the Truth, and I’ve Got a Secret and Googling the names of the contestants to see what happened to them/if they’re still alive, etc. I didn’t say it was a productive hobby, but it is an interesting one.
For example, a 1956 episode of To Tell the Truth had contestant Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor who worked on Mount Rushmore and was also at the time working on another project. He was sculpting a giant Crazy Horse memorial on private land in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
I decided to jump online and Google his name, and here’s the interesting thing. The project started in 1948 and is still going on! Besides being a massive undertaking in general, Ziolkowski didn’t want to take any government grants, instead relying on charging admission to the site to fund it. He passed away in 1982 and is actually buried in a tomb at the base of the sculpture. His wife Ruth took over the project, and she passed away in 2014. Their children are now in charge. Here’s the official site for the project, and there’s even a live webcam so you can follow the progress.
How big is it going to be when it’s finished? The four heads of the presidents on Mount Rushmore would all fit into the head of Crazy Horse.
(By the way, if you’ve never seen the above game shows or haven’t seen them in a while, take another look. They’re not just game shows but a fascinating look at the advertising, celebrities, and culture of the time. And Buzzr leaves the old commercials and intros/outros intact in each episode, which is a fantastic thing I hope they never change.)
Update: Mary Tyler Moore Statue Has a New Home
Back in October, I told you about the Mary Tyler Moore statue that was put in storage because Minneapolis couldn’t find a place to put it. But now they have. Starting next week the statue can be seen at the new visitor center at Fifth Street and the Nicollet Mall. She’s gonna make it after all.
Ordinary pie just can’t cut it anymore, and ordinary cake is just too boring. Cronuts? They’re sooooooo 2010.
Now we have … piecaken! And yes the name says it all: it’s a pie baked inside of a cake! Personally, I think that just calling it PieCake would be enough, but it’s a play on Turducken and you have to keep things consistent.
Pastry chef Zac Young has created one that’s 1/3 pumpkin pie, 1/3 pecan pie, and 1/3 apple turnover cake. It looks great, but I wonder what happens if you don’t like one of the layers? What if you love apple turnovers but hate pumpkin pie? I guess you have to turn the cake on its side and just carefully eat what you like.
Note: If you’re on Weight Watchers or some other diet plan, please be advised that this dessert will probably use up all of your points until April 2016.
National Cookie Day
It’s today, and to celebrate how about cookies shaped like something I mentioned above? And no I’m not talking about cookies shaped like laundry. I’m talking about Christmas trees.
And we have a bunch of great cookie recipes, including Cream Cheese Cookies, Zesty Orange Cookies, and Holiday Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies.
I also mentioned cassette tapes above, and I bet you think I couldn’t find a way for you to make cookies shaped like cassette tapes. Oh, you’d be so wrong.
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
The Halifax Explosion (December 6, 1917)
The explosion, caused by a French cargo ship colliding with a Norwegian ship, killed nearly 2,000 people and injured thousands more.
President Roosevelt’s “A day that will live in infamy” speech (December 8, 1941)
The speech came the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and officially ushered the U.S. into World War II. (You can also read about Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series, inspired by another speech Roosevelt gave earlier that year.
James Thurber born (December 8, 1894)
Read the short story “You Could Look It Up” that Thurber wrote for The Saturday Evening Post in 1941.
First Nobel Prizes (December 10, 1901)
The first Nobel Prize ceremony lasted only 15 minutes.
Emily Dickinson born (December 10, 1830)
After the poet’s death, her family found close to 1,800 poems that she had written in forty handbound volumes.
Norman Rockwell Painting to Be Sold
What would you do with an extra $10-15 million?
That’s how much the National Press Club expects to get when they sell the Norman Rockwell painting “Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor”. Rockwell painted the picture for the May 25, 1946, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell gave the original painting to the club in the early ’60s, but the board of directors discovered that the painting’s value had increased so much that it no longer made sense for them to hold on to it, due to insurance and security costs. They want to sell it to pay for various programs they have.
For the past year the painting was on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It’s now at Christie’s, where it will be auctioned off on November 19.
ABC Family Is Now … Freeform?
It’s not uncommon for some cable channels to change their name. TV Guide Network became Pop; Discovery Health became OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network); HDNet became AXS; and SOAPnet became, of all things, Disney Junior. But at least those names made sense. I’m not sure about this one.
ABC Family, which airs shows like The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars, is changing its name to Freeform. But it actually isn’t the first name change for the channel. It started in the late ’70s as CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network), then it became The Family Channel, then Fox Family Channel, and then ABC Family in 2001. The new name launches in January.
But I’m not really sure what Freeform is even supposed to mean. The channel says they’re doing it to attract younger viewers, because I guess younger people like … free- form jazz? Yup, that’s what I hear all the kids like these days, Snapchat and free-form jazz. They probably could have named it Pickles, and it would have made as much sense. But #Freeform makes for a snappy hashtag.
Tom Hanks Finds Student I.D.
Is there any limit to how nice Tom Hanks can be? (Answer: No.)
The Bridge of Spies star found the I.D. of a Fordham University student in Central Park. Now, a lot of people would have just left it there or given it to someone else to worry about, but Hanks himself tweeted a picture of the I.D. and gave the student, Lauren, a heads up that he had it:
Lauren! I found your Student ID in the park. If you still need it my office will get to you. Hanx. pic.twitter.com/Ee9kK4V4qf
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) October 6, 2015
The senior has been talking to many media outlets, including CBS and E! Online and revealed that she doesn’t even have a Twitter account. But one of her teacher’s saw it and showed it to her. According to E!, Lauren has contacted Hanks via his Facebook page but hasn’t heard back yet. She has already spent $20 on a new I.D. but hopes to get her money back when she gets the old one from Hanks (or as he signs his tweets, “Hanx”). Let’s hope she actually gets to meet him and also gets an autograph and picture taken with him.
Everything Old Is New Again
You know you’re getting old when they start remaking TV shows that were on when you were an adult.
We already know that Full House is coming back (as Fuller House on Netflix) and Boy Meets World became Disney’s Girl Meets World and a new X-Files will hit Fox in January, but now we’re going to have a new version of the ’80s action show MacGyver too. The director of the pilot is going to be James Wan, who helmed Furious 7 and was trying to get a big-screen MacGyver made for years. Henry Winkler, who co-produced the original will also be on hand for this one. Since it’s CBS I’m sure it will have to follow a certain formula, so expect MacGyver to be paired with a sexy female partner and they banter back and forth. Also, there will be forensics involved. Let’s hope that Richard Dean Anderson gets at least a cameo in the new series. Maybe he can be the dad to a new MacGyver like John Wesley Shipp plays dad to a new Flash.
If that’s not enough nostalgia for you, 20th Century Fox is doing a reboot of The A-Team; CBS is updating Nancy Drew (this time she’s an NYC cop!); and Fox is doing a series based on Lethal Weapon, which makes sense because, well, every action show on TV seems to be a version of Lethal Weapon. ABC is doing a TV version of the John Candy movie Uncle Buck, which already had a short-lived TV version in 1990 with Kevin Meany. So I guess this is a reboot of a remake (though I’m sure they hope you don’t remember that first TV version).
If they’re taking requests for shows that should come back, may I suggest Sports Night?
Hey, What Happened to the Mary Tyler Moore Statue?
Back in April we told you about the odd Lucille Ball statue that was scaring people because it looked more like a character from The Walking Dead than America’s favorite comedienne. Now comes word that TV Land’s statue for another sitcom icon has been removed.
The statue of Mary Tyler Moore that was standing at the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis since being created by TV Land back in 2001 is in storage. It shows Mary in her famous “throwing her hat in the air” pose from the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But it has been in storage since construction began at the mall earlier this year, and so far there are no plans to bring it back once construction is completed. TV Land doesn’t want to move it to another location and the network says it’s going to stay in an undisclosed storage facility until the mall is finished in 2017. But the mall is going to have its own design and artwork and there might not be a place for it.
I don’t understand why the city and TV Land can’t find a place for the statue of someone who is probably the most famous citizen to ever live (fictionally) in that city, but if they can’t find a place I’ll happily take it off their hands. It would look great next to my television.
Today Is National Moldy Cheese Day
A day to celebrate moldy cheese? Why not National Stale Potato Chips Day or National Stuff You Left in the Back of the Fridge and Now You Don’t Know What It Is Day? Actually, mold is an important part of some cheeses, especially cheese like blue cheese, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds (here are recipes for Stuffed Celery and Festive Fall Salad, both of which include blue cheese).
But the name. The name is what gets me. Couldn’t we just call it National Cheese Day?
No, because that’s June 4. Not to be confused with National Cheese Lovers’ Day, which is January 20. Got all that?
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
Columbus Day (October 12)
The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited on Columbus Day in 1892. Read about how the pledge has changed, and the story of its author.
Thanksgiving Canada (October 12)
In the U.S. it falls on the fourth Thursday in November (thanks to FDR), but for our neighbors to the north, turkey day is always the second Monday in October.
Nikita Khrushchev’s speech at the U.N. (October 12, 1960)
Read about the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis — includes a link to 1962 article from the Post covering the Cold War as it happened.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower born (October 14, 1890)
You’ve always wanted Eisenhower’s recipe for barbecue sauce, right? Here it is.
Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier (October 14, 1947)
The retired brigadier general and pilot (nicknamed “the fastest man alive”) is 92 and has an official website.
P.G. Wodehouse born (October 15, 1881)
I’ve always wanted to read more of this celebrated British author. This Random House site dedicated to Wodehouse is a good place to start.
Turning 90 is a wonderful thing, and being TV’s “It Girl” at age 90 is nothing short of amazing.
Those two achievements belong to none other than Betty White, whose 1995 book was appropriately called Here We Go Again. “The original idea,” Betty wrote, “was to visit the earliest days of television while I could still remember them.” White assumed, understandably, that her career was pretty much behind her—she was, after all, in her seventies.
In 2010, in an updated forward to the ’95 book, she wrote, “Who could have dreamed at the time, that, fifteen years later, I would still be hanging in there, busier than ever before?” Now at age 90, her star burns more brightly than ever before, as she appears in the hit TV show “Hot In Cleveland” and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. ( She was nominated for the same award for the first time in 2011, at the young age of 89—and won.)
Indeed, 2010 was a crazy year for Betty, and it began with a sassy Snickers commercial, then morphed into a Facebook campaign to make Betty the oldest guest host on “Saturday Night Live” and “somewhere in here I agree to do a guest stint on a pilot for a new series” with the stipulation that “it would be only a one-shot deal.” It starred Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick. An instant hit, there was an order for ten episodes. In spite of the agreement that she wouldn’t be involved, Betty ended up doing all ten, and then the series got picked up for twenty more episodes. “I have no business working this much at this age,” she said.
In the madcap year of 2010 she even showed up in the sitcom, “The Middle,” starring Patricia Heaton. She played a spiteful librarian who enjoyed making life hell for second-graders.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1922, Betty was barely out of high school when she received her first big break—singing for an experimental LA television station. By 1953, she was starring in a series called “Life With Elizabeth” and she made regular appearances in the ’60s and ’70s on “Password,” hosted by her husband, Allen Ludden.
Her most famous roles were as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970–1977) and the hilariously ditzy Rose on “The Golden Girls” (1985-1992). But her list of credits even includes: “Mama’s Family,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and “Ugly Betty.”
Nabbing the popular actress isn’t enough; for some reason writers love putting her in unlikely situations—like throwing her in the slammer. They love having her say things you don’t expect to hear from a nice little old lady. The results are delightful.
“I’m in freaking jail here!” she yelled last year on “Hot in Cleveland.” Betty plays the widow of a Mafioso who absconds, faking his death, leaving her to take the heat for sitting on stolen loot. Oh, actually, she doesn’t technically play a widow—although “dead,” he showed up this season—played by Don Rickles, no less. In jail for a couple of hours, she starts singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” until her unseen cellmate tells her to knock it off. When the camera does show the snarling woman sharing the space, it’s none other than Mary Tyler Moore.
Leave it to Ms. White to make being a “senior citizen” fashionable. No doubt partly in deference to her age group, “Hot” has boasted a “Who’s Who” of guest stars, and many of them, like the beloved Moore, are older. What a treat to see Carl Reiner, Tim Conway, Orson Bean, Buck Henry, Hal Linden (“Barney Miller”) and John Mahoney (“Frasier”).
Betty White is not just about comedic timing. She’s just as famous for her passion for animals. She communes with elephants, giraffes and chimps, too, as trustee for the Los Angeles Zoo. She has tirelessly worked to raise funds for improvements to various areas of the Zoo, such as “the Red Ape Rainforest for our orangutans, followed by a great new home for our gorillas,” as she explains in her 2011 book, Betty & Friends—My Life at the Zoo.
It seems appropriate that Betty White, at the age of 90 has landed on the network “TVLand.” In spite of a wonderful film career, from “Time to Kill” in 1945 to “The Proposal” in 2009, the land of TV is where this always-delightful pioneer belongs.
When Mary Tyler Moore began her freshman year at Hollywood’s Immaculate Heart High School back in 1951, her mother told her, “Be sure and take a typing course so when this show business thing doesn’t work out, you’ll have something to fall back on.” Mary responded in typical teenage fashion. From that moment on, “the very last thing I ever thought about doing was taking a typing course,” she recalls.
The show business thing worked out, of course. She debuted as Happy Hotpoint, the elf in dozens of TV appliance commercials. After appearances on several TV series, Moore hit it big as the beautiful suburban housewife, Laura, on The Dick Van Dyke Show and the perky 30-something single woman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, not to mention stage, feature film, and made-for-television work that garnered her seven Emmy Awards, a Tony, and an Oscar nomination, among many other accolades. Only recently, when she sat down to write Growing Up Again, did she regret ignoring her mom. “I don’t know how to use a computer or do any of that,” she admits, so she persevered with a supply of pencils and legal pads, and wrote the book longhand.
Unlike her 1995 autobiography, After All, her second book is less about life as an award-winning actress and more about living with diabetes. All the proceeds are earmarked for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization she serves as international chairman. “I felt there was a need for a book like this,” she says. “I didn’t want to lecture, but I wanted to communicate that I have shared the same feelings and experiences that other diabetics have. I wanted them to know that things get better when we’re disciplined and do our part in managing the disease.”
But she hasn’t always practiced what she teaches. In her book, she describes that awful day, almost 40 years ago, when she received two pieces of life-changing news. First, she had lost the baby she was carrying, and second, lab tests revealed that she had type 1 diabetes. In a childlike act of rebellion against the rules that accompanied the diagnosis, she left the hospital and promptly treated herself to a box of glazed doughnuts. Years would pass before she realized she had to grow up — again — and take control of her diabetes, not let it control her. Only then did she kick her three-pack-a-day cigarette habit, overcome her addiction to alcohol, and begin to follow a balanced diet and exercise regimen.
Although her disease has affected her vision and forced her to the sidelines of the dance floor that she once dominated, she refuses to indulge in self-pity. “Everybody on earth can ask, ‘why me?’ about something or other,” she insists. “It doesn’t do any good.
No one is immune to heartache, pain, and disappointments. Sometimes we can make things better by helping other people. I’ve come to realize the importance of that as I’ve grown up this second time. I want to speak out and be as helpful as I can be.”
She works tirelessly on behalf of JDRF, especially in November, American Diabetes Month and relies on the encouragement of her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, a cardiologist 18 years her junior. The two met in a New York emergency room where he treated her mother, and they have been a couple ever since. Their age difference is not an issue, she says. For her part, she’s proud of Robert’s medical expertise but she’s confident that she can hold her own when the topic is diabetes.
“He’s wonderful,” she says of the man she calls her “younger suitor” in her new book’s dedication. “He’s very patient with me and respectful of what I know about my diabetes. He’s the first one to say, ‘You know more about your condition than I do.’ And that’s true, of course … there’s no substitute for living with it.”