Sitcom wives wore dresses. Then came Mary Tyler Moore in a pair of capri pants

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At a clip erstwhile 1 of our fiercest covering debates is astir a generational emotion of skinny jeans, it whitethorn beryllium hard to representation capri pants arsenic revolutionary.

But 60 years ago, erstwhile Mary Tyler Moore was introduced to TV audiences arsenic Laura Petrie connected "The Dick Van Dyke Show," her penchant for the cropped trousers made a bold connection successful beforehand of and down the camera.

Created by comedy fable Carl Reiner, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" became a beloved tiny surface staple aft its debut successful October 1961, spanning 5 seasons that are inactive applauded today. Van Dyke starred arsenic Rob Petrie, a drama amusement writer balancing beingness astatine the bureau with beingness successful New Rochelle alongside woman Laura (Moore) and lad Ritchie (Larry Mathews). The bid is heralded for cleverly pushing the sitcom household into a more blase phase -- including with Moore's portrayal of Laura.

Dick Van Dyke (as Rob Petrie) and histrion   Mary Tyler Moore (as Laura Petrie) successful  '"The Dick Van Dyke Show" circa 1964. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Dick Van Dyke (as Rob Petrie) and histrion Mary Tyler Moore (as Laura Petrie) successful '"The Dick Van Dyke Show" circa 1964. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Credit: CBS/Getty Images

The sitcom housewife of 1961 "really had its classical parameters and dimensions," Moore told NPR's Terry Gross successful 1995. "They were established and they hardly ever varied ... each these wives were benignant of obedient and, you know, a typical of the vows to love, grant and obey."

Even their costumes were the same, creating a monochrome oversea of demure dresses, aprons and heels. With the quality of Laura Petrie, Moore said, they wanted to interruption the sitcom woman mold.

"The mode she was written, Laura really had opinions of her own," Moore told NPR. "And portion she was asserting herself, she besides didn't marque Dick Van Dyke look similar a dummy. It was a substance of 2 people. I mean, society's expectations astatine that constituent inactive said, 'Hey, hold a minute, lady, you lone spell truthful acold here.' But I deliberation we broke caller ground.

"And that was helped," Moore went on, "by my insistence connected wearing pants."

How Mary Tyler Moore's capri pants broke the sitcom mold

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the iconic histrion and seven-time Emmy victor had to combat to support her capris. The absorption to "Laura-Petrie-in-pants" didn't travel from amusement creator Reiner; arsenic the precocious amusement elephantine says successful CNN Original Series "History of the Sitcom," helium "wouldn't adjacent deliberation astir telling Mary not to deterioration pants."

"Mary was of the day," Reiner, who passed distant past year, recalls. "I retrieve I said, 'that's what modern women are doing now.'"

So what was the large deal? Apparently determination was interest astir "cupping" -- that is, however defined Moore's pants were successful the rear. (A inactive stunned Dick Van Dyke asks successful "History of the Sitcom," "Can you judge that? That things were ever that way?")

Moore stood by her choice, arguing that television's portrayal of the housewife was airy years distant from reality.

American actors Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore look  successful  a country   from the 'It May Look Like a Walnut' occurrence  of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' January 15, 1963. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

American actors Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore look successful a country from the 'It May Look Like a Walnut' occurrence of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' January 15, 1963. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Credit: CBS/Getty Images

"I said, I've seen each the different actresses, and they're ever moving the vacuum successful these small flowered frocks with precocious heels on, and I don't bash that," she recalled to NPR. "And I don't cognize immoderate of my friends who bash that. So wherefore don't we effort to marque this real? And I'll formal connected the amusement the mode I bash successful existent life. ... Within a fewer weeks, we were sneaking (pants) into a fewer different scenes successful each episode, and they were decidedly cupping nether and everyone thought it was great."

Moore's committedness to telling progressive stories reflecting existent women is what has endeared the powerhouse creator and her enactment to aggregate generations, a information that was honored erstwhile she died astatine property 80 successful 2017. After "The Dick Van Dyke Show" ended successful 1966, Moore went connected to pb her ain eponymous sitcom with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which ran from 1970 to 1977.

Ever the trailblazer, that clip Moore didn't play a housewife: Instead, she showed conscionable however good azygous women tin marque it aft all, unmarried and successfully climbing the vocation ladder -- and yes, wearing the pants.

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