Mary Tyler Moore told a lie that inspired a plot line on the Dick Van Dyke Show
Who knew a fib could lead to something so good?
It's impossible to imagine anyone other than the great Mary Tyler Moore playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Nearly 60 actresses read for the role before Carl Reiner cast Moore, remembering her as the "girl with three names." At the time, Moore was 24 years old and on the rise with a dance and commercial career on her resume. This didn't mean that she still didn't need some tricks of the trade to land a solid role.
At the time of casting, Dick Van Dyke was 11 years Moore's senior, and the casting office was looking for someone closer in age to play the Laura to his Rob. Upon arriving at the audition, Moore informed the casting directors that she was in, fact, two years older than she truly was.
After dazzling at the audition and landing the role, the truth was exposed — the 24-year-old actress had fibbed, but there was no better fit for the role. Moore was cast and the show went on as audiences know it.
Now, if Sally Rogers and Buddy Sorrell have taught us anything, it's that inspiration for a situational comedy can come from anywhere at any time.
This couldn't be more true for the show's own writing; the writers of the sitcom took inspiration from Moore's little stunt at the audition and wrote a two-part episode about a similar issue. If you recall "Laura's Little Lie" and "Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice", Laura avoids signing a life insurance policy because it requires a doctor's appointment, which would include a verification of her age. We learn that in order to marry Rob, Laura lied about her age by two whole years!
Sometimes even with the best screenwriters in town, you can't beat real life.
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I think they card people now. I bet Ken Berry was freaked-out!