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Music

Mary Tyler Moore: TV pioneer, feminist icon and — album cover girl?

Before Mary Tyler Moore was a television star on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and later with her own pioneering series, her face (and occasionally curvaceous body) graced the covers of long-forgotten albums of easy-listening instrumental music in the late 1950s.

That little-known fact is bubbling up in the wake of Moore’s death Wednesday. An ambitious working girl who could and did almost everything on the Hollywood road to success, Moore appeared on nearly a dozen album covers for acts such as Raoul Martinez and His Orchestra and the Norman Leslie Orchestra.

Mary Tyler Moore in 1959 around the time she was appearing on album covers.
Mary Tyler Moore in 1959 around the time she was appearing on album covers.
(Nelson Tiffany / Mirror News)

The music hasn’t exactly stood the test of time, but Moore’s twentysomething visage has given the LPs some cultural cachet. On eBay, you can snag “Million Sellers” (see Moore in gold lamé) for $9.99 and “Gigi” (see Moore sipping Champagne) for $22.50. If you’re particularly curious, you can buy a bundle of six albums (current bid: $22.27).

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Here’s a gallery of Moore’s multiple album covers, many of them for the defunct Tops record label, from “Cha Cha Cha” and “Organ Favorites” to “Dance to the Latin Beat” and “The Roaring ’20s.” 

Although she never recorded an album herself, Moore had a decent set of pipes, especially when paired with her beloved co-star Van Dyke. 

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james.reed@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter @jreedwrites.


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