Brow Beat

Mary Tyler Moore’s Signature Funny Cry Was One of Her Greatest Comedic Gifts

She could turn the world on with her smile, but within Mary Tyler Moore’s overflowing bag of comedic gifts was her ability to make crying look and sound wonderfully comical. Throughout her career, the six-time Emmy winner, who died on Wednesday, was frequently awash in tears—particularly while playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show—and there was something special about her way of playing it up for laughs. The high-pitched sobbing, the tiny hiccups in between, the pathetic attempts at verbal communication in the midst of all of that sobbing and hiccupping—it made for some of her most masterful comedic moments.

Dick Van Dyke Show creator Carl Reiner would recall years later that while making the show, Moore had asked him, “How do you cry funny?” Reiner demonstrated how it should look and then: “She took it over and cried much funnier than I ever did.” So here’s a tribute to the beloved comedian’s pitch-perfect funny cry—it’s okay if, while laughing, you shed a few tears yourself.

Read more in Slate about Mary Tyler Moore.