Candice Bergen Remembers Mary Tyler Moore: There Would be No 'Murphy Brown' Without Her
By Jackie Willis
Mary Tyler Moore was undoubtedly a trailblazer for women in television, especially for actress Candice Bergen.
Moore portrayed an independent woman working in news in the 1970s hit sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and a decade later, Bergen got the opportunity to portray a tough female TV journalist on Murphy Brown.
"Mary Tyler Moore really opened the door for women not defined by a relationship, for women trying to have a career," Bergen told the Today show on Thursday, a day after Moore's death. "[Her show] also opened the door to quality television, because the writing was so exceptional and had such depth and was character-driven."
While Bergen and Moore's career inevitably draw comparisons -- both women received five Emmys each for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for their sitcom roles -- Bergen insisted that Moore was "in her own stratosphere."
"She made it look easy, but it wasn't," the 70-year-old actress said. "I think for young girls growing up, watching those characters on television, it gave them a sense of entitlement that they didn't feel before that."
Following news of Moore's death on Wednesday, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon also paid tribute to the acclaimed actress. "We’re all really saddened today to hear about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore,” he began. “She was a pioneer, not just for television and comedy, but for women. Her character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was really the first single working woman on TV.”
Fallon got choked up when recalling how she inspired him on a personal level. "She’s been on television my whole life; me and my family would have dinners and watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, so I almost feel like she was part of my family, too, when you love someone that much,” he shared. “In fact -- side note -- my high school yearbook quote was, ‘A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants,’ from the Chuckles the Clown episode, one of the funniest moments on television.”
The 42-year-old host added, "She was one of the coolest, one of the classiest, one of the funniest people ever. Thank you for making us all laugh."
Moore also had a big influence on the Queen of daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey. "What I'm grateful for is that, in my lifetime, I was able to share with her what her presence in television had meant to me as a young, growing, aspiring reporter," she told ET's Nancy O'Dell. "It's the first time that I can recall a public figure in recent years passing -- and we've lost so many people recently -- where I actually sat down and shed tears about it."
Winfrey, 62, praised Moore as a "role model" for "young, single women in the workforce," and revealed that it was Moore who first inspired her to pursue her own entertainment empire.
Here's more of ET's emotional interview with Winfrey: