About the judgy lady in the cat-eye glasses

Since Mary Richards first tossed her perky, blue-striped beret, I’ve wondered about the judgy lady in the cat-eye glasses creeping into the shot.

Was she having a bad hair day?

Irritated by all the commotion near the Nicollet Mall that day?

Disapproving of our spunky, single career girl?

Turns out she was 61-year old Hazel Frederick, who, according to her 1999 obituary, didn’t even know she’d wandered into an iconic scene until three episodes into the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I think the hat tossing scene, which made it into every iteration of the Mary Tyler Moore Show opener, encapsulates every single thing we love about both Mary Richards and Mary Tyler Moore.

There is the bold, brass-buttoned sense of style. As she flings that beret you can see the matching gloves, necessary accruements for a February afternoon in Minneapolis, but still really cute.

And that hair! How many of us tried to copy that flip? I know I spent a good bit of time as a child of the 70s with my hair covered in Dippety-Do and wrapped in pink sponge curlers in various, mostly disastrous, attempts to recreate the MTM flip.

How about that graceful, but confident stride? Both Marys succeeded in male-dominated industries not in spite of their femininity, but because of it. I love that. We can look at that shot of Mary’s beaming face, and Hazel’s apparently frowning one and the uninterested mailman and all the other people on that crowded street, and know that both Mary the actress and Mary the character lived life on their own terms and, when they felt like it, did not hesitate to spread the joy.

And, of course, there’s poor Hazel herself, a woman caught on the edge of a revolution. Note Hazels’ bulky but practical man gloves and her bouffant hairdo, loosely held in place by a chiffon scarf. She’s gripping a pocket book and staring with a pinched expression on her face, like she’d really like to kick off her sensible galoshes and join the fun, but isn’t quite sure how.

I think the lesson here is pretty clear and pay attention carefully because, thanks to ubiquitous security cameras and smart phones, any one of us could be trapped in time like Hazel, our lips all scrunched up like we’d just smelled something unsavory.

Should you see a gleeful person strutting through the street, for God’s sakes, turn and smile.

Love is all around, but the cameras are too.

Rest in peace, Mary. We loved you dearly.


Seriously, I can’t get enough of this shot. According to several articles I read, Hazel did not receive any money for her accidental appearance, but she did enjoy her 30 years of notoriety. Mary Tyler Moore invited her onstage during a 1996 book tour, and referred to her as her costar.
This is my friend Catherine’s daughter Amber who, four years ago, did what any self-respecting University of Minnesota student would do to celebrate her graduation– she recreated the famous MTM hat toss. Bravo!
And this is me in 1970 putting pink rollers and Dippety-Do in my sister Kathy’s hair in an ultimately exasperating attempt to recreate the Mary Tyler Moore flip.

And, because I know you want to watch it one more time, here are the opening credits for the final season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show:

2 thoughts on “About the judgy lady in the cat-eye glasses

  1. I don’t think my hair has ever held a curl (or been that blonde!). I did always love Mary’s apartment. I think my first apartment in Milwaukee was almost that cool.

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