Mary Tyler Moore: Laura Petrie is ''everything that I am.''
"I love her," said Moore.
Lots of bands have that one breakout hit that goes on to define them against their will. It's not their favorite song, but it's the one the public knows, and it gets reluctantly dragged into every setlist forever. But they hate playing it! They begrudgingly do what they know is recognized, even though it's not their favorite artistic statement. Wouldn't that be draining?
Acting can be like that, too. So many actors fall into the trap of having a recognizable character. They spend the rest of their careers trying to prove "I'm not just Robin," or "I can be something other than Gilligan!" When the public remembers you by some other name, it can get old, fast.
But for Mary Tyler Moore, playing Laura Petrie was never a chore. She never tired of playing the wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Much like her costars, Moore frequently spoke about how delightful it was to act on the show, and how creatively freeing the process was.
"I think I'd be tired to tears if I were her," Moore told The Atlanta Journal in 1964. "But I don't get tired of playing her because I don't have to live with her. I don't have to live in her house and spend my days vacuuming the rug and wondering what to do next."
Parts of Laura Petrie followed Moore home, though. For instance, they shared a face! Did she ever get tired of being confused with the onscreen wife to Dick Van Dyke's Rob?
"No, I love her and I love the way the show is written.
"Well, you see, I say I love her but she's me because I play her the way I play myself at home. If I'm having a conversation with Rob Petrie, I would deliver the lines to Rob the same way as I would deliver them to [then-husband] Grant [Tinker]. You know, it's me. It's my timing, my gestures, it's everything that I am."