In 1975, an amazing episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show hit the airwaves, entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” which was written by David Lloyd and directed by Joan Darling. This miraculous program has been wildly praised for nearly fifty years — one might say that it has been over-praised, but in fact that would be impossible. This hilarious, macabre episode holds up incredibly well decades later.
At the end of the show, when the team from WJM returns from a colleague’s funeral to the apartment of spunky news producer Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, they each in turn ponder what sort of funeral they would prefer.
Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), the imbecilic and arrogant news anchor, his equally dim but lovable wife Georgette (Georgia Engel), gruff boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner) and snarky news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) all have their views, but it’s “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens who gets the biggest laugh.
Relentlessly perky and sexually voracious TV host Sue Ann, of course, was portrayed by Betty White, who died on Friday. And now, with White’s death, they have all left us.
When an actor who portrays a TV character dies, generally the TV character also dies. So one might imagine that the crew of WJM, plus Mary’s best friend Rhoda and landlady Phyllis, have all passed on as well.
So here are their last wishes, adapted from the original program.
Cover image and cover dialogue adapted from “The Lars Affair,” the first appearance of Betty White’s “Sue Ann Nivens” character.