Hollywood and the world are mourning the loss of legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore. Only “Extra’s” Charissa Thompson had a chance to speak to Oprah Winfrey, who idolized Moore.
The two shared a very special moment in 1997 when Winfrey’s show producers surprised her with an unannounced visitor on her show – Mary Tyler Moore – and they met for the first time.
Dear Mary, You already know how you majorly influenced my life and career. I respected and admired your business acumen, your passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through your storytelling. Thank you for being a Light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in you.
Winfrey relived the joyful moment, telling Charissa, “I went into the triple ugly cry, I had never met her before then, and I was just talking about her. We had done a little clip where I was trying to reconfigure the opening of the show, where I was throwing my hat up in the air. I was talking about what she meant to me, and she walked out... I could not speak.”
The media mogul explained how she looked up to Moore, saying, “The reason why she held such a place for me and space for me, first of all, I’ve watched every show… I have all the tapes… at the end of the show, Mary Tyler Moore Productions, having her own production company with that little kitten coming through, is what first inspired me. That 'Wow, you can have your own production company, you can manage your own show, you can own your own show, you can be the boss of you' – I first got the idea that you can be a boss of you from Mary Tyler Moore. I cannot tell you what an important seed that was for the future of my career."
Oprah continued, "For me it was deeper than fanship. My relationship with Mary Tyler Moore actually helped me to understand, when I would run into other people and they would say whatever they would say to me, I would pay attention and they would say, 'You are my Mary!' And I would say, 'Boy, do I get that.'”
When thinking about Moore's legacy, the TV personality says, “Her legacy is every life that she has touched. The fact that I was a young girl watching that show, being myself in the light of the character that she created, and saw through her value system in a way to elevate my own... that is her legacy, and for every other person who saw it and got humor, entertainment, joy, a sense of resilience… for every person that she touched, that will be her legacy.”
Oprah revealed, “I sat today alone shedding tears with her, really what do I want to say to her, thank you.” She added, “We shared the same values… she represented a kind of way of being in the world, a value system of holding yourself with a level of confidence and being able to stand up to your boss, and to stand up for yourself and make a way for yourself in the world that says, ‘Yes, I can.'”
Holding back tears, Oprah recalled the time they spent together. “Every time we saw each other there was always a wonderful warm embrace with great affection, because I think she did understand that impact she had for me and an entire generation.”