Say Farewell to Betty White with an Iconic 'Mary Tyler Moore' Episode
Watching "Chuckles Bites the Dust" is the only proper way to grieve the loss of the 99-year-old comedy legend.
In May 2021, the great Ed Asner tweeted a note mourning the death of Gavin McLeod, the actor who played his colleague Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now." Three months later, in August, Asner died. And now Betty White, the last of the principle Mary Tyler Moore cast, is gone at the age of 99, less than a month shy of her 100th birthday.
White was more than a legend, traversing generations in Hollywood, and there are countless ways to remember her. You can think of her appearances on the game show Password, flirting with her late husband, host Allen Ludden. (Here, in 1964, she cheekily tells the audience she's "not pregnant, to answer all of your letters.") You might turn to countless episodes of Golden Girls. Or there's her late-in-life career revival with her turns in The Proposal or her great appearance on SNL. But I immediately thought of an episode I've turned to nearly every time a member of the MTM crew has died: "Chuckles Bites the Dust."
It's a brilliantly morbid half hour of television. Chuckles the Clown, a Minneapolis icon, has died and the WJM crew cannot stop laughing, but Mary is upset that everyone is treating Chuckles' demise with levity. White's not-so-secretly sexy Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens explains that she'll do the tribute on her show. "I'm peeling onions," she says. "My eyes will be too puffy for anything else." Of course, it's Mary who can't keep it together at Chuckles' funeral.
After it's all over, they WJM staffers sit around discussing what they would like their funerals to be like, a moment especially profound now that each actor is no longer with us. The gang, like Asner wrote, is all together now. "I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown on Robert Redford," Sue Ann says. Here's hoping she gets her wish.