Mary Tyler Moore’s death yesterday at the age of 80 prompted an outpouring of loving tributes in print and on television. Adding to the adulation, here are three scenes from the Emmy Award-winning episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Chuckles Bites the Dust.” This entire episode, available on Amazon.com, is an excellent way to get funeral planning conversations started.
Chuckles, the clown at the local Minneapolis TV station where Mary Richards works in the newsroom, was invited to lead the parade when the circus came to town. He was dressed as one of his popular characters, Peter Peanut. An elephant decided he needed a snack, and that’s how Chuckles bites the dust. The folks in the newsroom can’t stop laughing about how he died.
Mary, who is taking the clown’s death terribly seriously, does not join in the laughter in the newsroom. But laughter and tears are intertwined, and emotions can’t be suppressed for very long without dire consequences. In this very famous scene at Chuckle’s funeral, Mary starts to lose emotional control.
After the funeral, the newsroom gang retires to Mary’s apartment for coffee and cake. They talk about what a nice event it was, and each person expresses their body disposition wishes. Betty White, ever the maverick, wants to be cremated and “have my ashes thrown on Robert Redford.” Redford was exceedingly popular in 1976, when this episode first aired.
“Chuckles Bites the Dust” will have you laughing uproariously, and this episode is a great ice breaker for having a family funeral planning conversation. It’s available on Amazon.com.
God bless Mary Tyler Moore and her pioneering ways in American entertainment.