The behind the scenes drama I witnessed involving Mary Tyler Moore at the 2008 Emmy Awards
With the death of Mary Tyler Moore today, I’ve been thinking about her appearance at the 2008 Emmy Awards when I got to see, first-hand, what a true showbiz pro she was.
She was there to present the Outstanding Comedy Series award with Betty White. The plan was for Miss Moore to come out first and pay tribute to Betty’s 50th year in television then Betty would walk out to an ovation.
What the audience did not know – but I did know – was that Mary had suffered a nasty fall on the red carpet a few hours earlier. I was standing about 10 feet away and let me tell you, it was terrifying.
Mary had been doing scores of interviews in the scorching hot sun – I even saw Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood doing a joint interview with her and Cloris Leachman. I had a red carpet roaming pass which enabled me to just walk around at will snapping pictures and talking to folks.. Miss Moore approached the booth for The Insider and with the help of her husband Dr. Robert Levine, negotiated the steps leading up to Lara Spencer – all but the last step. She tripped and fell down HARD on the platform.
It was like a nightmare for anyone who saw it. This beloved television icon, then 70-plus years old, tumbling to the ground and hitting it with a thud. I, along with others standing nearby, were horrified. Mary laid still for a minute and you wondered if someone was going to call for medical help.
Then I saw her hand reach to her head and she began to fix her hair.
She was slowly helped up, got herself together, and was helped off the platform.
I’ll never forget what happened next: Mary flashed that legendary smile and waved vigorously to the crowd and to a bank of photographers as she made her way into the Nokia Theater. I don’t know what kind of physical pain she was in but she put on one helluva performance.
Still, when I was in the pressroom later, I asked some Emmy officials the state of Miss Moore’s health and no one would comment. I knew she was among the last to present and it seemed in doubt until she strode onstage, looking as confident as ever, and introduced Miss White.
Now that’s a star.