Under the excellent leadership of our production staff, the show was perfectly organized and ran with great efficiency. Mary was always on time and ready to perform, a model for the rest of the cast. Ed Asner and Gavin Mac- Leod were equally professional; they were always punctual and always ready with their lines. That isn't to say there wasn't spontaneity and humor on the set. In between studying our revisions, we shot comments and laugh lines to each other.
Ted Knight had a tough life. He was a ventriloquist, and there was meager demand for that talent in show business. Jay, our director, mentioned more than once how difficult it was working with Ted, but that changed, and Ted became one of the best liked members of the cast. He also became mayor of Brentwood, where we lived, and my kids always reported that he was so kind to them when they ran into him.
The person I had the most doubt about was Gavin MacLeod. I'd worked with him before, and he'd always played a menacing heavy, so I didn't know how his persona would work in a sitcom. But Gavin emerged new and splendid, he played his character with real sweetness. He conducted himself in a less bumptious way than I did— Gavin didn't sit on anybody's lap—he overcame all reservations about him doing comedy the same way I overcame Jim Brooks' reservations about me.
I never knew Jim Brooks well. But one day, while we were waiting for the set to be changed, I gave him a head-and- shoulders rub, something I do well. After it, Jim thanked me and went to his office. Later he came back on the set and sat down beside me. "I don't know what you did," he said, "but I went back into my office and burst into tears. I couldn't stop crying." It seemed my massage had released some very deep feelings. That was the closest Jim and I have ever been.
Ed Asner and I came together slowly but ended up pals. He always told me he loved me, and every once in a while, he'd grab me and whisper, "You're God's gift to man!" One day we made an agreement that I would have sex with him if he lost thirty-two pounds. Well, don't you know, he almost did it; he lost twenty-nine pounds. We both got so disoriented at what we were facing that his weight shot back up, and our assignation never happened.
Since the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I've seen Ed occasionally. We've run into each other on television shows. Each time I've felt there was something close to hostility in his behavior. On one of these shows, with an audience of three hundred or so people, he bellowed at me, "You can't be trusted. You're absolutely untrustworthy," and his raging continued. At first, I didn't understand what was causing it.
In the years since The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ed has been involved in politics, and he asked me to participate in different events. I did for a while, but I found I didn't always agree with his positions on things, and tending to be outspoken myself, I thought it better to leave off doing them.