Yesterday the World was rocked by the devastating news that TV icon Marry Tyler Moore had passed away. As a man in my 30s, I personally didn’t know too much about her, but for working women coming of age in the 1970s, this woman was an incredible inspiration, especially for women in television like Oprah who was just coming up through the ranks in the cut-throat world of TV news, working with an older male co-anchor who simply didn’t want her. The theme song of Mary’s show was “you’re going to make it after all” and would end with a liberated Mary tossing her hat in the air, and 22-year-old Oprah would watch every Saturday night when she didn’t have a date.
Oprah did a tribute to the show’s famous opening where Oprah too would toss her hat in the air just like Mary, but with Oprah playing the part, the “you’re going to make it after all” theme took on special meaning.
With the exception of her best friend Gayle, no one thought Oprah would make it when she left a successful talk show in Baltimore that she was co-hosting with Richard Cher, to host her very own show in Chicago in the mid 1980s. People told her she was crazy to walk into Phil Donahue’s hometown and challenge the king of daytime TV in his own backyard. This was considered a suicide mission for anyone, especially an overweight black looking black woman.
And yet to everyone’s astonishment, she was successful immediately. The low budget morning talk show she took over went from dead last in the ratings to #1, practically overnight, and the rest is television history. She would go on to become not only the World’s most influential woman, but the richest African American of all time. She made it after all.
The time Marry Tyler Moore surprised Oprah on live TV goes down as one of the all time greatest moments in television.