17 little details you never noticed in the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' opening credits

Take a trip around Minneapolis in this detailed look at the classic sitcom's intro.

Few — if any — opening sequences in television history are better than the one seen on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Well, the ones seen. The memorable montage changed over seven seasons of the 1970s sitcom. The glue holding it all together? That iconic hat toss into the winter air and that brilliant theme song sung by Sonny Curtis, "Love Is All Around." It encouraged us all: "You're gonna make it after all!"

The show's zippy credits throw shots of Minneapolis at the screen fast and furious. There's a lot to soak in, even if you've watched it 168 times. We wanted to point out some interesting trivia about the opening credits. There are fascinating little cameos and secrets in here. Let's take a closer look.

1. The title is typed in the Peignot font.


While heavily associated with the 1970s, this typeface was designed in France in 1937. The font can also be spotted in the Beatles' 1965 film Help!, in the credits to the smash 1970 movie Love Story, and the second season opening of the sitcom That's My Mama.

2. Mary's driving route is all over the city.


The opening credits of season one show Mary Richards driving into Minneapolis, though her route makes little geographic sense. In this shot she is heading down I-494 in Bloomington, south of Minneapolis. That dark building with the white sides on the horizon is now the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington, but at the time was a Radisson. Judging by its position, it seems Mary is heading west — out of town? A couple shots later, Mary apparently then splits off I-35W northbound onto Trunk Highway 65 heading into downtown. The trip makes far more spacial sense than the circuitous commute taken around Chicago by Bob Newhart in another MTM Enterprises production, The Bob Newhart Show.

3. Mary drove a white 1970 Ford Mustang.


She swaps out this Mustang for a newer model a couple years later, as we shall see.

4. This is the the Basilica of Saint Mary.


Though it is hard to see in the haze of a lovely sunset, this Roman Catholic church sits just to the west of downtown Minneapolis, at Hennepin and Lyndale. It was the first basilica established in the United States. And it is appropriately named after "Saint Mary."

5. It was directed by Reza Badiyi, who made the opening sequence for 'Hawaii Five-O'


The Iranian-born director behind the opening credits is a television legend. The Directors Guild of America honored him for helming more than 400 hours of television. He had a knack for snappy opening credits, too. Badiyi also crafted the similarly quick-cut intro to Hawaii Five-O. Mary Tyler Moore credits Badiyi for coming up with the idea of the hat toss. Here is a great close-up look at the blue tam o' shanter cap that Mary hurls skyward.

6. This woman's name is Hazel Frederick.


This Minnesota native just happened to be passing by the camera, while on a shopping trip to Nicollet Mall in 1969. She turns to watch Mary's iconic hat toss with a befuddled look. She remained a mystery until 1996, when Mrs. Frederick finally met Mary Tyler Moore at a book signing. Moore invited Frederick onstage and introduced her to the crowd as her "co-star."

7. Mary is wearing the jersey of Fran Tarkenton.


Mary supports her local NFL team as she sports a Vikings jersey while washing her car. Naturally, she opted for the No. 10 worn by Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton. While the QB is indelibly associated with the Vikings, he was actually playing for the New York Giants when The Mary Tyler Moore Show began. He returned to Minnesota in 1972, where he finished out his career. Note that Mary now possesses a blue Ford Mustang.

8. This building is the RSM Plaza.


This skyscraper on the Nicollet Mall was also used as the exterior of Mary's workplace, the fictional WJM-TV. The building would have been brand-spanking new at the time, as it was completed in 1969. 

9. This is the IDS Center.


Located across the street from RSM Plaza, the IDS Center was still under construction when the first opening credits sequence was filmed. That's why you do not see these scenes until later seasons. Mary is shown window shopping outside a Mary Jane Shoes store (it no longer exists) before she heads indoors and up an escalator in the Crystal Court, the spacious atrium of the skyscraper.

10. This was Mary's then husband Grant Tinker.


Mary was meeting a gentleman for lunch inside the Crystal Court. We see the couple eating on the mezzanine, in what is now Basil's Restaurant. That fellow is Grant Tinker, Moore's husband at the time, a powerful Hollywood producer and co-founder of MTM Enterprises.

11. These joggers are co-creator James L. Brooks and producer David Davis.


Tinker is not the only MTM bigwig to make a cameo in the opening credits. Co-creator James L. Brooks and producer David Davis get a little exercise as they sprint by Mary alongside a lake path.

12. Mary walks around the Lake of the Isles.


Speaking of the lake paths, Mary is shown leisurely strolling along the water in several shots through all the opening credits. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and there are 13 major ones in Minneapolis alone, but this is seemingly Lake of the Isles. This is just steps away from her apartment, which makes a lot of sense. On a side note, that is a fabulous fur coat. We could not determine its origin, unfortunately.

13. Mary's house is in the Kenwood neighborhood.


Speaking of Mary's home, this stately white house at 2104 Kenwood Parkway was used as the exterior. The manor was built in 1900. In 2012, it was priced at around $3 million, but recently hit the market at $1.7 million.

14. This grocery store was a Red Owl on Hennepin Avenue.


The locations seen in the opening credits surprisingly make a lot of geographic sense in the real world. In later seasons, we see Mary picking up some beef at a grocery store, somewhat disgusted at the cost. The was filmed at the Red Owl on Hennepin, just across the lake from her house. Today, it is a Kowalski's market. This little moment was shown in response to the great meat shortage of 1973, which drove up the price of beef. Hey, at least she didn't have to use gas to drive there.

15. This building was destroyed by a fire in 1982.


Two bygone department stores can be spotted in the opening credits, both on the Nicollet Mall. We see Dayton's a couple times, which is where Hazel Frederick was heading that day. Here is the nearby Donaldson's department store. This establishment was destroyed in 1982 by the Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire.

16. This is city hall.


No, that is not some random shot of Big Ben. The ornate clock tower belongs to Minneapolis City Hall.

17. They reshot this Christmas scene from the first season.


At the end of the touching season one episode "Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid," Mary gives Ted a hearty hug — crushing his fedora. The moment was preserved in the opening credits. However, in later seasons they reshot the scene specifically for the opening, as you can clearly see by the change in wardrobe. And the change in hat.



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AnneDraghine 39 months ago
If she was going west on 494, then she would indeed been going towards Minneapolis, not away from it. So her drive makes sense, especially if she was shown coming down 35W to the downtown split.
GojiraShei AnneDraghine 11 months ago
Not really. The direction she's heading, she would have already passed 35W. By this point Mary's well on her way to Eden Prairie. The only way she could have gotten onto 35W from her current location and direction would be to get off and turn around, or go all the way around the 694 loop until she reached 35W again.
Dr_Satori 40 months ago
Does it seem that James L. Brooks is wearing the Number 10 football jersey as he jogs past Mary - the same or similar one as Mary is wearing when she's washing her blue car (which probably should have been the yellow one Rhoda bought for her by then)?
bigtenner 53 months ago
"in the haze of a lovely sunset" my A$$. That is pure MSP smog right there. I still rag on my MPLS friends by sending the photo of the dreary shot with the exit sign superimposed over poor Mary's face as she realized she won't see sunshine for the next seven months until the 110% humidity sets in. :)
Wiseguy 56 months ago
The Peignot font was also used by The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. And it's Hawaii Five-0 with a zero, not the letter O. Always. Then and now.
TheSentinel Wiseguy 30 months ago
The Peignot font was also the original font used by Viacom Enterprises for its closing logo ("A Viacom Presentation", seen in recent times on MeTV on episodes of My Three Sons from its last two seasons thanks to botched plaster jobs by CBS Television Distribution, where the Viacom logo came after the CTD logo).
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