Mary Tyler Moore once imagined Laura Petrie's ''quietly wonderful'' future beyond The Dick Van Dyke Show
Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show ending: "It was devastating to me."
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The last shot of The Dick Van Dyke Show sees Rob and Laura Petrie step away from the group to share one last smooch before the credits roll on "The Last Chapter." Throughout the series, the character of Laura is depicted in many ways, as loving wife and mother, a former U.S.O. dancer and even at one point, a writer who shows so much potential that it mildly threatens professional TV writer Rob for a time. She's a wonderful housewife and stay-at-home mom who never fails to show how much she has to offer and even saves the day a time or two, despite her hilarious penchant for histrionics.
On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura was portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore with such charm and humor that a lot of subtle complexity came out of the character and the writers began to write more and more episodes for her character. Episode after episode proved that Moore was uniquely qualified to capture this now-iconic TV character, stoking laughter through every delightful disaster, and history rarely forgets to note that she beat out 60 other actors to land the part (after famously almost skipping the audition entirely).
By the time we reached that final moment of The Dick Van Dyke Show, both Laura Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore were equally beloved by TV audiences, and soon after, Moore would continue to impress by evolving sitcoms beyond maternal roles for leading women in her groundbreaking sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It's no surprise then that in Moore's interview with the Archive of American Television in 1997, the TV star was asked to compare her two famous characters, which led Moore to muse on what would've happened with Laura Petrie's story arc beyond the end of The Dick Van Dyke Show:
"Well, I think Laura would have had not so spectacular a life [compared to Mary Richards], because she was happily married to Rob, and she probably had another child and probably stayed a very good mother, and perhaps, as her children were old enough to leave home, she went back to maybe teaching dancing. Maybe teaching dancing to disabled people. Any number of things like that, that would have been quietly wonderful."
It's a lovely idea to tack on the end of the cherished classic series that launched Moore's career. She explained her complicated feelings and why it was so "devastating" for her when The Dick Van Dyke Show ended:
"Dick had done Mary Poppins and was anxious to go on and try other movies. Carl was writing a Broadway play. A lot of people were wanting to stretch their wings in all media. It was devastating to me because while I, too, wanted to succeed, and I wanted to go on, I had been offered Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, [but] it was the end of a family. … I suddenly felt at home with this group of people. I felt comfortable and loved and supported, and it wasn't just those people. It was the prop guys, it was the Kraft Service guys, and the wardrobe woman, and I missed each one of them terribly. And I felt the same emotion when The Mary Tyler Moore Show went off the air.”