Candice Bergen: Mary Tyler Moore "Opened the Door for Women Trying to Have a Career"

Today Show
Candice Bergen

"I think for young girls growing up watching those characters on television, it gave them a sense of entitlement they didn't feel up until then that they had."

Candice Bergen stopped by NBC's Today show on Thursday to talk about her friend and fellow iconic female television actress, the late Mary Tyler Moore.

Moore died Wednesday afternoon. She was 80.

Bergen made it clear that without the groundbreaking Moore, there never would have been a Murphy Brown, which ran for 10 years.

"Mary Tyler Moore really opened the door for women not defined by a relationship, for women trying to have a career," Bergen said. "And it also opened the door for quality television because the writing was so exceptional and had so much depth and was character-driven. Mary was an icon unlike any other."

Moore's character, Mary Richards, in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, dealt with issues that had never been addressed before in such an open and public fashion, such as equal pay for women and birth control.

"I think they were very important," Bergen said of topics covered in the 1970s sitcom. "And I think for young girls growing up watching those characters on television, it gave them a sense of entitlement they didn't feel up until then that they had. I think Mary Tyler Moore really made women feel entitled to a career and to be defined without a man."

Through it all — the topics and character's emotions — Moore made it look easy, Bergen complimented.

"She was very much, I believe, an instinctive actress," Bergen continued. "And she also worked wonderfully in the ensemble of that show, because that was a unique ensemble. And they all — most of them — went off to have spinoffs, so the characters had real potential to be developed."

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