One of the rules that govern my custodial duties as Toobworld's Handyman is that unless otherwise stipulated, the age of a TV character is the same as that of the actor playing the role. This rule applies to even those characters to be found in the distant Past (Westerns, Roman epics) as well as in the far Future (just about every sci-fi show.) Of course the dates of their birth would then have to be adjusted to make this correlation be totally faithful to the actor.
One of those exceptions is/was Mary Richards. 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' will always be one of my top six favorite TV shows; I often said it was my guide to life. As many of Team Toobworld should be aware, it has come back to our notice sadly with blob posts and retro network "Marythons" due to the death of Mary Tyler Moore.
I still can't get my head around the fact that she was 80 years old. But she was in ill-health for several years and she was nearly blind when she played her final role in a reunion of the actresses from the show in an episode of 'Hot In Cleveland' a few years back. For me, she will always be in her thirties. (When it comes to Laura Petrie, she will always be in her twenties in my mind, reunion movie be damned!)
But Mary Richards is not 80 years old as well. She would be 77 years old in Toobworld. This is established in the episode "The Sexagenarian" in which Mayr dated Murray's Dad Doug Booth (played by the impishly wonderful Lew Ayres.)
We found out that Mary Richards was born in April of 1939, whereas Mary Tyler Moore's birthdate is December 29, 1936.
It's usually a given that I consider a character to have died around the same time as the actor who played them, most especially with the iconic roles (like Archie Bunker and Lucy Ricardo. And in connection with this series, Ted Baxter.) But in Mary's case? I'm of the opinion that I should consider Mary Richards Cronin still alive out there somewhere in Toobworld, probably TV-NYC, and will continue to be well into her nineties. Why not? Mary Richards did not suffer from Type 1 Diabetes as Ms. Moore did. She was always presented on the show as being in excellent health (for the most part - there was that episode in which she got sick and nothing went right just before the Teddy Awards.)
And it's not like anybody will really dare to take over the role as a Recastaway - she came from a series named after the star, for whom the character was specifically created after all. Unlike characters like Hawkeye Pierce, Perry Mason, and Lt. Columbo, there will always be just one Mary Richards.
It will be interesting to note any future references to the character or to the show from this point on. I'm hoping nobody ever tries to suggest that she died.
After all, Mary Richards died once already in a TV dimension - in Skitlandia, thanks to a sketch on 'Saturday Night Live'.
[ touches Mary's shoulder ]
I don't think Mary's depressed, Ted. I think she's dead!
Come on, Murray, she can't be dead - she's busy. Dead people are never busy.
Oh, God, Ted! How could this have happened?
I don't know, Murray. I mean, she was fine this morning when I put that Drano in her coffee for a joke!
Drano?! You put Drano in her coffee?!
Well, she was hoarse, and I thought it'd help clean out her pipes! [ chuckles ] Get it?
That stuff's poison! Don't you read the label!
Yeah, but it got boring.
Mary's dead, you killed her! Why couldn't it have been the other way around?
So I ask you: Hasn't she suffered enough?