Mary Tyler Moore fans: who was the blonde guy in the newsroom?

I have been reliving my lost youth by watching DVDs of the old MTM shows from the 60’s and 70’s.

Now, as you may recall if you are a Mary enthusiast, there were always bit players in the background at the WJM newsroom who never spoke to the principal characters and rarely interacted with them, but constantly looked like they were working on newsroom-type stuff.

There was this one guy with long blonde hair, slightly thick-set, who appeared to be about 25-35 in the series, who fascinates me. Not in the sexual sense, but because he was so darned GOOD at looking like he was really working. Sometimes I actually stop watching Mary, Lou Grant, Murray, Ted and the others and just watch him as he wanders around drawing at a drafting table, answering phones, showing documents to the other bacground people, etc. etc. And he seems to have worked on the show for years.

Only once HAVE I heard him say anything. Ted Baxter mistook him for another person and he replied “My name is Pete.”

What became of this man? Does he show the old MTM reruns to his kids and grandkids? Did he go on to speaking roles? If he is alive he would by my reckoning be about 60 to 75.

I have checked Wikipedia regarding the MTM series and there is no mention of him. Does anyone have a clue?

J. Benjamin Chulay, A.C.E..

Thanks a lot. As I’ve always said, if you can’t find it on the internet it doesn’t exist or you’re in a middle eastern country.

That’s a new one most people who want info on a bit player on MTM ask this question

Q) Who was that woman with the sour face at the end of the opening credits?

A)Her name was Hazel Frederick, and she passed away in late 1999 at the age of 91. In 1996, Mary met Hazel Frederick during a book signing in Minneapolis. Mary: "I extended my hand to her and I said, ‘tell me, why were you scowling’? She said, ‘I thought you were going to kill yourself, my dear!’ "

Born John Benjamin Chulay, August 1952.

His LinkedIn page.


His main connection to Mary was that his dad, John C. Chulay, was the assistant director

His main connection to Mary was that his dad, John C. Chulay, was the assistant director on The Dick Van Dyke Show and later did the same for Mary’s show. John C. also directed a few episodes of her show and got to speak a couple lines on the Van Dyke show when Rob goes to the unemployment office and asks him in which line to stand.

I’m binge watching MTM, right now, a decade later than you question. He is everywhere. Even when they’re all gathered in Lou’s office, you can see him through the glass. He is fascinating. He actually went front and center one episode with a news camera, following Ted out the door, and another when the chimp visits . He is awesome at looking so focused and busy. There’s another guy as well, but I think the blond hair is an attention grabber. Ha actually really cute. He never seems distracted by Thier drama. So, just sayin’, you’re not alone. :blush:

According to IMDB, Chulay is still with us at the age of sixty-nine. Who knows? He may end up being the last surviving cast member.

I’ve been catching the MTM show recently on Pluto tv, but I haven’t paid much attention to the furniture. Why would you need a drafting table in a television newsroom?

To design graphics for use on screen and other purposes.

One of the quirky things that amused me about the MTM show was that those characters in the background were usually the only ones doing any actual work. Mary, Murray, Lou and the other principal characters were always deeply involved in personal drama. If an actual TV newsroom was run that way, nothing would ever get done! :grinning: Still, a very charming show.

Have you ever watched Taxi? The garage is always full of extras wandering around in the background doing absolutely nothing, and the camera is usually focused on five people in the foreground (Alex, Elaine, Tony, Bobby, and Jim), who don’t do much other than talk.

Cheers! was pretty much the same, but it made sense there because a bar will normally be filled with customers mostly unknown to the main cast.

Funny you should mention this. My late brother had the hots for Mary ever since she was Laura Petrie on DvD, and he got to meet her during the book tour as well.

He was standing in a long line when she approached and told her handlers “I can talk to everybody up to this guy,” or words to that effect.

She shook hands with him as well when he finally made it to where she was sitting. He told me the skin on her hands was remarkably soft.

Well, they did all get fired in the end. Except for Ted, who was less a part of the chummy group. Maybe that’s why. The newsroom needed more professionalism.

While most detective shows feature squad rooms with other extras in the background, doing detectivey things believably, being understood to be working on different cases, The Closer is odd in this regard. The Major Crimes unit is supposed to be a special squad doing high profile cases. Everyone brings a unique skillset to the team. There are no other “Major Crimes” squads sharing the space. They have their own private area.

But yet, there are always uniformed officers, and other people, doing stuff in the background. They never interact with the main characters. When some issue or scandal affects all the main characters, these nameless people are still there, oblivious to the events front and center. (for example, no one ever questioned them for being the leak in the stupid Turrell Baylor arc.)

Who are these cops, or more accurately, why did the show creators think they needed this particular brand of “set decoration”?

Police Squad with Leslie Nielsen parodied this beautifully. Extras in the background were always doing something like taking coffee mugs out of a cabinet labeled “MUG FILE” while the camera focused on the principals discussing aspects of the crime-of-the-week.

There was Jeff, who was in the cage with Louie since almost the beginning, and appeared in 70 episodes. He occasionally was given a line or two, especially as the show went on.