The HBO Original documentary Being Mary Tyler Moore reveals the life of the titular actress, producer and philanthropist who dazzled family, friends and fans both on and off screen until her death in 2017.
Directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker James Adolphus and produced by Lena Waithe, Debra Martin Chase and Ben Selkow, Being Mary Tyler Moore is filled to the brim with memories of Moore from her personal wins and losses to her six decades-long career in The Dick Van Dyke Show, her eponymous hit series and beyond — and even a look at her love life.
Moore’s widow Dr. Robert Levine spoke to Deadline as part of the Deadline FYC House + HBO Max event series.
“It’s a little bit of a roller coaster emotionally,” Levine said about how he felt watching the documentary. “I think that one of the things that came out was the bridal shower video clip in the movie I had never seen before; I didn’t even know it existed. We found it in a box in the basement, very late in our process. So the first time I saw the film put together, that was the first time I saw that video. That was touching in a very, very special way because Mary was telling the story of when she was convinced that she loved tuna fish sandwiches.”
The documentary gives an inside look at a woman who was beloved by both men and women. Men picked her as their celebrity crush, and it usually was OK by with partners who wanted to be her best friend.
“I think it was just that she was safe. She was so brilliantly talented, she was also authentic and she would show her vulnerability — and she always had a smile,” Levine shared proudly. “She wasn’t threatening. As I said, she was just brilliant comedically.”
Levine added, “She was a compelling figure who was young and gorgeous and really talented, and people loved her from the first moment.”
Martin Chase says she never had a second thought about being a part of the documentary. Growing up, she watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was influenced by Moore’s character, Mary Richards.
“This all started with Robert Levine, Mary’s widow, who read a Vanity Fair article where Lena Waithe said that she’d love to do a movie on Mary Tyler Moore,” said Martin Chase. “They met and decided they were going to do it. Lena and I are very old friends, and she came to me because she knew that I was a student of Hollywood and that a lot of my work is about empowering women and women fostering change and that Mary had affected my life.”
She added: “I was at that age when The Mary Tyler Moore Show was on and Mary Richards was an icon for me and influenced my life decisions. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this.”
Here is more from Moore’s admirers: