Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District
Mary Tyler Moore, 2002
Bronze Figurative Sculpture
Gwendolyn Gillen, Madison, WI
Viacom | TV Land
Photo: Kurt Moses
"Of all the sculptures on Nicollet, Mary Tyler Moore by Gwendolyn Gillen is likely the sentimental favorite. Commissioned through the TV Land Landmarks Association, the statue captures a likeness of Mary Tyler Moore as the television character Mary Richards at the moment she tosses her beret into the sky during the program’s opening credits. 'Who can turn the world on with her smile?' – quotes the plaque at the base of the statue – and who can resist this beloved icon of an upbeat liberated working woman?
The sculpture was also Gillen’s favorite. She won the commission to produce the sculpture over 21 competing applicants. One of the toughest parts of creating the sculpture was capturing the beret toss, which was a requirement. According to Gillen, 'I actually practiced throwing the hat to find out when it left the hand. I'm showing it at just between 78 and 80 degrees, with the hat just touching the fingers of her extended right hand, and the thumb open. I thought this would be a good way to achieve the effect.'
Her other work includes portrait busts, life-size figures, and animals including Gertie the Duck on the Wisconsin Avenue bridge in downtown Milwaukee. 'The thrust of my work has always been to portray life as it is lived, with neither excessive sentimentality nor hollow heroism,' she has written. 'I delight in the portrayal of humans in their infinite possibilities.'
Coincidentally, Gillen's death occurred just two days after the death of Mary Tyler Moore. As news of the television icon’s death broke on January 25, 2017, more than 150 people gathered near Gillen's statue in Minneapolis and tossed their hats in the air in tribute to the actress and the character she brought to life."
This point of interest is part of the tour: Nicollet Public Art Tour