Twenty years ago, Oprah was showing her studio audience a clip of the time one of her favorite people ― the late Mary Tyler Moore ― surprised her with a phone call. After the clip played, Oprah gushed about Moore, completely unaware that the actress she adored was hiding backstage, listening to every word.
“Mary Tyler Moore, one of the greatest ever,” Oprah said, to camera. “I love her. Thank you, Mary, for being such an inspiration to us all, all of us women in television. Thank you very much.”
At that moment, Moore walked out from backstage. Upon seeing her, Oprah was at first stunned, then overcome with emotion.
As Moore wiped away Oprah’s tears, Oprah collected herself and began sharing her thoughts about Moore. “Let me just say, you have no idea what you’ve meant to me,” she told Moore. “There are many times in our lives when there are those of us who, we only had the television for inspiration. And you were one of those women who was a light.”
Moore, who played a television producer on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” said that she was just as honored to have made an impact on countless women.
“It’s been the most gratifying thing to me, too, as time has gone on and the show has come so mean to much to people,” Moore responded. “To hear from young women, old women, whatever, that I was ― our show was ― an inspiration for them to go into journalism or television work of some kind...”
“Just the classiness, the way you presented yourself... just what you were,” Oprah said. “Maya Angelou says of some people, ‘They have a certain way of being in this world.’ And that’s what you brought to that character.”
Original air date: Feb. 10, 1997