There are few actresses as iconic as Mary Tyler Moore. She achieved her beloved stature through a series of perky, “you’re going to make it after all” single ladies after tremendous success as Mrs Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show. And she was of course adorable.
Yet the role I first think of when I hear or see Mary Tyler Moore’s name is “Ordinary People.” She was riveting. I challenge anyone to give me an example of a finer performance.
I had not seen “Ordinary People” in many years and happened upon it at my local Public Library a few months ago. I rushed to the desk to check it out and virtually ran home stopping only for a giant bag of my favorite popcorn on the way. I watched it three times. I was mesmerized each time by her performance.
Coincidentally I checked it out again and watched it just days before she died on January 25, 2017 at the age of 80.
“Ordinary People” was Robert Redford’s directorial debut for which he won an Academy Award. The movie won three other Oscars and took home virtually all of the top categories at the Golden Globes including Ms Moore as Best Actress. Ms Moore was edged for the Best Actress Oscar by Sissy Spacek for “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Here’s how the trailer for “Ordinary People” introduces it:
An extraordinary motion picture, Ordinary People is an intense examination of a family being torn apart by tension and tragedy. Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore star as the upper-middle-class couple whose “ordinary” existence is irrevocably shattered by the death of their oldest son in a boating accident. Timothy Hutton is the younger son, struggling against suicide and guilt left by the drowning. Judd Hirsch is the empathetic psychiatrist who provides his lifeline to survival. Mary Tyler Moore gives a riveting portrayal of the inexplicably aloof mother. Robert Redford’s achievement as director, after more than twenty years as a superstar in front of the camera, earned him an Oscar® Superb performances and masterful direction complement the award-winning screenplay, based upon the novel by Judith Guest.
If you love great movies and have not seen this one, you simply must.
• We loved Mary Tyler Moore for her cheer. But did we miss out on a possible film legend?; Washington Post; January 25, 2017.
• Mary Tyler Moore: America’s Sweetheart Goes All the Way. She plays rough in ‘Ordinary People’ – but will her fans love her in the morning?; Rolling Stone; This story originally appeared as the cover story in Issue 330, November 13th, 1980.