The show was originally planned to be about a divorced woman, but because divorce was still a hot subject in 1970, they settled for a broken engagement instead. Also, the network was afraid people would think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, her character's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, losing the audience's sympathy.
A three-minute mini-pilot, titled "Love is All Around," was produced for CBS Network executives in an attempt to sell them on the casting of Edward Asner as Lou Grant.
The first stanza of the theme song was rewritten after the first season.
Series was filmed on Stage 2 at CBS Studio City
Mary's house, which appears in the opening credits, is still standing in Minneapolis, Minnesota - the city in which the show takes place.
Gavin MacLeod first auditioned for the part of Lou Grant. Edward Asner gave a terrible reading at his first audition and insisted on a second chance.
The name for the local broadcasting awards on the show were the Teddies, the Television Editors award.
Murray was the only member of the WJM news staff who never won a Teddy. Coincidentally, Gavin MacLeod, who played Murray, was the only regular cast member to never be nominated for an Emmy.
After leaving the WJM news staff, Gordy (played by John Amos) the weatherman became a successful talk show host.
Following the conclusion of the series, Edward Asner continued to play Lou Grant in a long-running dramatic series of the same name.
Dr. Lars Lindstrom, Phyllis's never-seen husband, was a member of the Society of Concerned And Responsible Dermatologists, or SCARD (pronounced "scarred").
W.J.M. stands for "Wild" Jack Monroe. He was the station owner.
When the famous opening credit sequence was reworked for Season 3-4, the Mary crew was being followed by a news team for the talk show program "Moore on Sunday". Both the news crew and the police officer escorting the Mary team were pressed into service for one of the clips (when the Mary Richards character has to duck to avoid being caught on film as the "news" cameraman swings his camera around in the direction the officer points).
Mary's home telephone number is identified as 555-2312 by Ted in an episode during season four.
Moore wore a wig for the first season of the show, to make her appear less like Laura Petrie (her character on The Dick Van Dyke Show.) When it was discarded, the change in her hairstyle (including her much lighter hair color) was never commented on in the show itself.
The shot in the opening credits where Mary Tyler Moore throws her hat into the air was shot at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. In May 2002, TV Land erected a statue of her at that spot. The statue faces the opposite direction, however: the buildings that appear in the background of the shot were destroyed by a fire that took out an entire city block on Thanksgiving night in 1982. Many scenes in the opening credits (riding an escalator, window shopping) were shot within a one-block radius of this spot.
The two joggers who pass Mary in the park during the opening credit sequence are producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns. Also in the credit sequence, the gray-haired man Mary has lunch with and is later seen walking with in the evening is Mary Tyler Moore's then-husband Grant Tinker, the president/co-founder of MTM. The woman seen scowling back at Mary as she tosses her hat is local resident Hazel Frederick.
When casting the part of Sue-Anne Nivens, producers were stumped for an actress to take the role. They wanted "someone like Betty White." Eventually, someone asked "Why not cast Betty White?"
The kitten who meows at the end of the closing credits is a parody of the roaring lion which appears at the beginning of MGM films. The kitten's name was "Mimsey"; she was adopted from a local shelter.
In reality the kitten in the MTM logo is yawning. Since the cameraman couldn't get a usable shot of the cat actually meowing, the footage was used and a meow dubbed in.
Jack Cassidy was offered the role of Ted Baxter. He turned it down because he didn't want to be in the supporting cast of a female-led show. Cassidy later guest starred as Ted's brother.
Often, during particularly uproarious episodes, you can hear producer James L. Brooks laughing from the studio audience. He has a very distinct and drawn out "hahhh hahhh hahh" guffaw.
The fictional address of the Victorian apartment building where Mary, Rhoda and Phyllis live is 119 North Weatherly.
Betty White was originally only to appear in one episode as Sue Ann Nevins, however, she was promoted to series regular.
This program has the most Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series - 5.
Voted #11 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
The photo of Edward Asner playing football on Lou Grant's office wall is the same photo that was used in an episode of The Fugitive ('Three Cheers for Little Boy Blue') in which Asner guest starred.