The Story Behind the Iconic 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' Opening

The actress shared details in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002.

ByABC News
January 26, 2017, 8:48 AM

— -- Mary Tyler Moore, the late television legend best known for her role in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" explained how the iconic opening for the show — featuring the actress tossing her hat high in the middle of an intersection — came to be, in an interview with Diane Sawyer that aired on "Good Morning America" in 2002.

"Well, there was a man who was directing the opening titles. And it was so cold — it was the middle of January here," the actress said while in Minneapolis, where the opening was filmed. "It was so cold that lips weren't moving, you couldn't form words."

    Moore added that the director told her, "'You know what would be a good idea, Mary? Go out in the middle of the intersection and take that tam off and throw it in the air.'"

    "It was so cold, I couldn't protest. The words weren't forming," she said. "So I did as I was told, and dear Hazel Frederick, who was frozen forever in the background, looking with what appears to be a scowling face at me, and she told me later, because I did meet her, that it was just that she had no idea what was going on, never saw a camera. She just thought there was a lunatic about to lose her life."

    Moore said that she met up with Frederick when she was back in Minneapolis years later for a book singing. "I actually brought her onstage and introduced her as the co-star of the titles," Moore said.

    She said the hat that she tossed in the air was a present from her aunt. "It was my very own dear hat. I have no idea where it is now, because it was stolen," she added.

    Moore's portrayal of career woman Mary Richards in her namesake 1970s show arrived alongside the women's movement, making her a role model for generations of women.

    The show, which centered on Richards' work as a producer in a fictional Minneapolis TV newsroom and her life as a single woman, earned 29 Emmy Awards — the most for any scripted series until "Frasier" won its 30th Emmy in 2002.

    "So many women of all ages tell me that they were influenced by our show," Moore said on "GMA" in 2002. "And I'm delighted to, to be just a tiny part of the reason for that."

    The Oscar-nominated actress died on Jan. 25, 2017, at the age of 80.

    ABC News' Luchina Fisher contributed to this report