The Mary Tyler Moore Show

"CHUCKLES BITES THE DUST"

By

David Lloyd

CAST
Mary Richards Mary Tyler Moore
Lou Grant Edward Asner
Ted Baxter Ted Knight
Murray Slaughter Gavin MacLeod
Georgette Franklin Georgia Engel
Sue Ann Nivens Betty White
Reverend Burke John Harkins
Louise Thomas Helen Kleeb

SETS
Newsroom
Mary's Living Room
Lou's Office
Mortuary Chapel
Small Area off Chapel



ACT ONE

FADE IN

Autumn in Minneapolis.

INT. NEWSROOM - DAY

Murray is at desk. Mary is returning from teletype carrying
tearsheet.

MARY
Murr, have you noticed anything funny
with the teletype machine this
morning? I sure hope there's something
wrong with it.

MURRAY
Why?

MARY
Because if there isn't President
Ford just held up a liquor store
with a water pistol.

Sue Ann sticks her head through the door.

SUE ANN
Hello, people.

MARY
Hi, Sue Ann.

SUE ANN
Mary, I want you to close your eyes.
Now, no arguments--close them.

MURRAY
It's all right, Sue Ann. She's seen
you without makeup before.

SUE ANN
(laughs)
Oh Murray, I just hope *my* mind's
still active when I'm your age...
C'mon, Mary, close them.

Mary shrugs and closes her eyes. Sue Ann enters carrying a
huge mobile made entirely of food and holds it right in front
of Mary.

SUE ANN
Now you can open your eyes.

Mary opens eyes.

SUE ANN
Well, what do you think?

MARY
Is it all right if I close them
again?... What is it?

SUE ANN
It's a free-form mobile showing the
four basic food groups. I used it
for a special I did last week called:
"What's All This Fuss About
Famine?"... And I thought it would
be just the thing to brighten up
your new apartment.

MARY
Oh, Sue Ann, you... shouldn't have.
Of course, I'll have to check my
lease. I mean, just to make sure
there isn't any regulation against...
you know, hanging food...

SUE ANN
I think it would go beautifully in
your kitchen--don't you?

MARY
Well I think the kitchen might be a
little too small for it.

SUE ANN
Well I'm sure you'll find the perfect
place for it.
(Starts to exit)
I know, why don't you put it in your
bedroom? I'm sure you must need
something in there to relieve the
tedium.

Sue Ann exists, passing Ted, who enters.

TED
Hello Sue Ann. Hello Murray. Hello
Mary.

Mary is on her way to hang the mobile on the hat rack.

TED
(To mobile)
Hello whatever you are. This is Ted
Baxter saying: Happy days are here
again!

MARY
Did you make that up, Ted?

TED
Naw, it's from some song.
(Thinking)
I forget the name of it.

MURRAY
And what are you so happy about?

TED
The circus is in town and they want
me.

MURRAY
That's terrific, Ted. Do you have to
bring your own shovel?

TED
It so happens they want me to ride
at the head of the parade. I'm this
year's Grand Marshall. It's something
I've always wanted.
(Bitterly)
I should have had it *last* year--
but they gave it to that stupid
weather girl from Channel Six. Well
it served them right what happened...

MURRAY
What happened?

MARY
It... rained on their parade.

TED
(Still bitter)
And the year before that, when they
chose that big, dumb basketball player
who does the sports on Channel Eight.
Made a fool of himself!

MURRAY
I don't remember that, either.

MARY
He got in the wrong car. He...
squeezed into the little tiny one
with all the clowns in it and...
wedged them in. They eventually had
to take the car apart. It kind of
spoiled the effect.

MURRAY
Gee. It sounds as if the Grand
Marshall's job has a history of
disaster.

TED
Yeah, well--this year they've got
me.

MURRAY
I rest my case.

TED
Ha-ha. You can't bug me, Murr. Nothing
can spoil my day now that I'm going
to be Grand Marshall of the circus
parade.

Lou enters from his office on Ted's last line.

LOU
Forget it, Ted! You aren't.

TED
(Staggered)
W-what, Lou?

LOU
I said forget it. My anchorman isn't
marching down the street with a chimp.
It tends to give him an undignified
image!

TED
Lou, please! It *won't* give me an
undignified image.

LOU
(To Ted)
I was talking about the chimp.

Lou exits and Ted follows him out.

TED (O.S.)
Lou!

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. MARY'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Door opens. Mary enters, turns on light and closes door. She
is carrying the mobile Sue Ann gave her. She looks for some
place to set it down, and the doorbell rings. She goes to
the door and opens it. Georgette enters.

MARY
Georgette, hi, what brings you here?

GEORGETTE
Ted. He's parking the car. He's
looking for a meter that still has
some time left on it.

Mary continues to look for a place to set mobile down.

MARY
Would you like some coffee?

GEORGETTE
Okay. Mary, when Ted gets here you've
got to talk to him, he's very upset.

MARY
About what?

GEORGETTE
I don't know. He's too upset to talk
about it.

MARY
So what makes you think he'll tell
*me* about it?

GEORGETTE
He will, Mary. He said to me, "I'm
not going to burden you with my
troubles, because it's just a bore
to burden people with your troubles.
Let's go see Mary"... Mary, can I
ask you a question?

MARY
Sure

GEORGETTE
(Indicating mobile)
What's this?

MARY
What's what?... Oh that. It's a gift
from Sue Ann. It's a mobile. I'm
just trying to find a place for it.

GEORGETTE
Why don't you put it in a mobile
home?
(They both laugh)
I think it's really beautiful.

MARY
You do?

GEORGETTE
Yes, all this food--it looks good
enough to--look at. What do you want
me to do with it?

Doorbell rings.

MARY
Oh, just put it anywhere.

Georgette shrugs and puts it into freezer. Mary is about to
open door; Georgette stops her.

GEORGETTE
Oh, Mary. Whatever it is that's
bothering Ted, you'll have to worm
it out of him--he never likes to
show his true feelings.

Mary opens door and Ted enters, smiling.

MARY
Hi, Ted.

TED
(Brightly)
Hiya, Mary...

Face falls and he gives a strangled sob.

MARY
(Dryly)
Something wrong, Ted?

TED
I never could hide anything from
you. All right. I'll tell you. I'm
quitting WJM.

MARY
(Now concerned)
Quitting? Ted, why?

TED
Because I'm not appreciated, that's
why. Because after seven years of
giving the station the best I had,
Lou still treats me like dirt.

MARY
Oh come on, Ted!

TED
He treats me like a little child,
Mary. He bosses me around as though
I were ten years old.

MARY
Ted that isn't true. He may boss you
around but he doesn't think you're a
kid. He respects you as a mature
adult.

TED
(Anguished)
Then why won't he let me go to the
circus?

Kettle whistles. Mary crosses to kitchen.

TED
I mean, it's an honor being asked to
be Grand Marshall. A very great honor.
(Beat)
The Grand Marshall rides ahead of
the elephants!

MARY
Ted, for what it's worth, I think
Mr. Grant was unfair about the circus.

TED
Then why don't you talk to him, Mary.
He listens to you. Maybe he'll change
his mind.

MARY
I'm afraid it's a little late for
that, Ted. Just before I left the
office, I heard the circus had chosen
a new Grand Marshall.

TED
(Resentful)
Already. Boy they didn't waste any
time did they? Who'd they get to
replace me, the Mayor, the Governor?

MARY
Chuckles the Clown.

GEORGETTE
Oh. How'd they ever get him?

TED
(Incredulous)
Chuckles? Our Chuckles? A kiddie
show host? Grand Marshall of the
circus? A clown? Well, I hate to say
this but I hope they laugh at him.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. NEWSROOM - DAY

Ted is on the air. Murray and Mary are watching at their
desks.

TED (ON THE AIR)
(Grimly throughout)
...leaving twenty-eight people
condominiumless. Now for the lighter
side of the news. A cocker spaniel
named Skippy who had been left behind
by the Hargrove family when they
moved from San Jose, California, two
years ago, today showed up at the
Hargrove's new home in Westport,
Connecticut...
(ad lib)
Big Deal. And now a word from one of
our sponsors... Big deal.

MURRAY
What's the matter with him?

MARY
He's still angry with Lou about that
circus thing and you know something,
Murray? I don't blame him.

MURRAY
Aw Mair! You're gonna be reasonable
now, aren't you? You're going to be
fair, and look at both sides of
things, and see Ted's point of view.
If you're in *that* kind of mood I
don't even want to talk to you!

MARY
I mean it. Do you know how close Ted
came to quitting his job over this?

MURRAY
Not close enough!

Lou enters, genuinely stricken.

LOU
(Mutters)
Oh my! Oh, dear...!

MARY
Mr. Grant...?

LOU
(Really shaken)
Something terrible has happened.

MURRAY
(Sober)
What is it, Lou?

LOU
Someone we all know is dead.

MARY
What! Mr. Grant--who?

LOU
(Getting control)
No... I won't tell you about it now...
I don't want to upset you...

MARY
(Frantic)
Mr. Grant!!...

LOU
Where's Ted? I gotta tell Ted...

MURRAY
He's on the air, Lou. What happened?
Who died? Tell us!

LOU
(Still dazed)
Chuckles. Chuckles the Clown is dead.
It was a freak accident. He went to
the parade dressed as Peter Peanut...
and a rogue elephant tried to shell
him.

They are both stunned.

MARY
Oh Mr. Grant...

LOU
(Moving to door)
I gotta get this on the air. You
start working on the formal obituary,
Murray. Chuckles' real name was
George... his wife's name is Louise...

Lou starts out, then turns in the doorway, with an
afterthought.

LOU
...The elephant's name is Jocko...

TED (ON THE AIR)
(Still glum)
And in St. Paul today, when stopped
for going through a traffic light a
woman gave this excuse to a police
officer: "It's a new car. I'm trying
not to wear out the brakes"...
(sarcastically)
Ha ha. We'll be back after this
commercial.

Lou dashes in from the side.

LOU
Ted, listen closely. Chuckles the
Clown was just killed. He was dressed
as a peanut and an elephant crushed
him.

TED
Stop trying to cheer me up, Lou. I
mean, it's funny but it's in bad
taste.

LOU
Ted, it's not a joke.

TED
You mean it?... Good Lord.

LOU
Look, Murray's writing a formal
obituary for tomorrow. You'll just
have to ad lib something for now.

TED
(Panicking)
What'll I say? I mean, I hardly knew
the man.

LOU
Sure you did. You knew him. You were
on his show.

TED
It's hard to get to know a man when
he's chasing you with a rubber
chicken.

LOU
Ted, just say something short and
simple and warm. You can do it, Ted.
We're counting on you.

TED
Don't worry. I won't let you down.

Stage manager gives Ted "on the air" cue.

TED (ON THE AIR)
(Reverently)
Ladies and gentlemen--sad news...
one of our most beloved entertainers
and a close personal friend of mine
is dead. Chuckles the Clown died
today of--
(flounders, can't
think how to put it)
...um, died today a broken man!
Chuckles... um, leaves a wife. At
least I assume he was married... he
didn't seem like the other kind... I
don't know his age, but I'd say he
was probably in his early sixties...
of course, it's hard to judge by a
guy's face--especially when he's
wearing big lips and a lightbulb for
a nose... Anyhow, he had his whole
life in front of him--except the
sixty years he's already lived... I
remember... Chuckles had a motto he
used to recite at the end of his
shows. It was called "The Credo of a
Clown." I'd like to offer it now, in
his memory...
(religiously)
"A little song--A little dance--A
little seltzer down your pants."
That's what it's all about, folks...
that's what he stood for--that's
what gave his life meaning...
(Ted is winging now)
Chuckles liked to make people laugh.
And you know what I'd like to think?
I'd like to think that somewhere up
there tonight--
(eye heavenward)
behind those pearly gates... in the
Great Beyond, where some day all
must go... somewhere up there tonight,
in honor of Chuckles, a celestial
choir of angels...
(his big finish)
...is sitting on whoopie cushions.
(Quickly)
Ted Baxter, good night and good news!

And on Lou's face, we:

FADE OUT

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

FADE IN

INT. LOU'S OFFICE - NEXT DAY

Lou is pouring coffee, talking to Murray.

LOU
Chuckles worked at this station for
twenty years. The least we can do is
put together some kind of tribute to
him.

MURRAY
I think I got a title for it. "Requiem
For A Peanut."

Murray immediately regrets having said it, and covers his
face. Lou gives him a reproachful look.

LOU
That isn't very respectful, Murray.

MARY
Then why are you laughing?

SUE ANN
Mary, dear--don't the circumstances
strike you as being the least little
bit... bizarre?

LOU
After all, the guy died wearing a
peanut suit, killed by an elephant.

MURRAY
Yeah--born in a trunk, *died* in a
trunk!

MARY
Okay. *Forget* what he was wearing!
Suppose he *hadn't* been dressed as
a peanut--would it still be funny?

There is a pause while they all consider that. Then Murray,
very somberly, says:

MURRAY
...It could have been worse... he
could have gone as Billy Banana--and
had a gorilla peel him to death.

Without a word, Mary tosses clipboard on desk and exits, as
we:

DISSOLVE TO:

MURRAY
I'm sorry, Lou, but I can't stop.
I've been doing it ever since you
gave us the news yesterday afternoon.

LOU
Me, too. It was some shock.

MURRAY
(Very serious)
It sure was.

LOU
A real tragedy.

MURRAY
(Ditto)
Terrible thing.

LOU
Lucky *more* people weren't hurt.
Lucky that elephant didn't go after
anybody else.

MURRAY
(Solemnly)
That's right. After all, you know
how hard it is to stop after just
one peanut...

Murray goes to pieces. Can't help it. Breaks up completely.

LOU
(Going fast)
That's not funny, Murray...
(He breaks up too)

As they are both in stitches Ted enters, gradually starts
laughing with them.

TED
What are we laughing at?

MURRAY
Chuckles.

Ted gives them scathing look and exits. A beat, then re-
enters.

TED
That's not nice.

MURRAY
(Guilty)
I know. Why do I say things like
that, Lou?

LOU
It's a release, Murray. A kind of
defense mechanism. It's like whistling
in a graveyard. You try to make light
of something because it scares you.
We laugh at death because we know
death will have the last laugh on
us.

TED
(Impressed)
Hey, Lou, that's good! It's not only
good, it's heavy.

LOU
"Ask not for whom the bell tolls: It
tolls for thee."

TED
"It tolls for thee." Movingly put,
Lou.
(Beat)
Why does it toll for me?

LOU
Because this could have happened to
any of us, Ted.

MURRAY
(Philosophically)
Somewhere out there there's an
elephant with your name on it.

There is a beat. Then an awful thought suddenly hits Ted.

TED
Lou! That's right. It could have
been me!

LOU
No it couldn't Ted--

TED
I wanted to go! You wouldn't let me!

LOU
Ted, it doesn't work that way--

TED
(Clutching Lou's hand)
You saved my life, Lou! You saved my
life.

LOU
Please, Ted, I feel bad enough today.

Ted exits.

INT. NEWSROOM

Ted exits as Mary enters and crosses to her desk.

MARY
Oh, Ted... My car is being fixed--
could I possibly ride with you and
Georgette to the funeral tomorrow?

TED
Sure. The more the merrier.

Ted crosses and exits. As he does so, he passes Sue Ann, who
enters.

SUE ANN
Mary, dear--there's no point in
duplicating efforts. I'll do the
tribute to Chuckles on *my* show
this afternoon. I have to peel onions
anyhow--my eyes will be too puffy
for anything else.

MARY
(Annoyed)
Sue Ann! Why is everybody being so
callous about this?

SUE ANN
(Hurt)
Callous? I'll have you know, dear,
that Chuckles and I were very close.
I made the first custard pie he ever
sat on.

MARY
All right. Maybe callous isn't what
I mean. But the man is dead, and it
seems to me that Mr. Grant and I are
the only ones in this whole place
who are showing any reverence.

Lou and Murray enter from Lou's office. Lou is laughing.

LOU
(Still laughing)
Cut it out, Murray.

MURRAY
Can you imagine the insurance claim?
"Cause of death: a buster goober."

They both laugh. Sue Ann joins them.

SUE ANN
I don't know what you two are laughing
at but I'll take a chance it's dirty.

MARY
(Upset)
Murray! You're not still making jokes
about... about that?

Murray nods his head, ashamed.

MURRAY
Sorry, Mair.

LOU
It's a release, Mary. People need
that when dealing with a tragedy.
Everybody does it.

He smiles apologetically at her. She looks him in the eye,
unsmilling.

MARY
I don't.

Gradually the other three wipe the smiles off their faces.
When all are serious again, Mary picks up a clipboard.

MARY
Shall we discuss the tribute, now.

LOU
Right. Good idea.

MARY
As you suggested, Mr. Grant, I
screened a number of Chuckle's old
shows this morning. His best known
characters were... "Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo,"
"Billy Banana," "Aunt Yoo-Hoo," and...
um, of course...
(quickly)
"Peter Peanut."

She looks up. All three of them have covered their faces.
Mary stands and stares at them. Lou is the first to recover.

LOU
Sorry, Mary.

MARY
(Cool)
Oh, that's all right, Mr. Grant.
This tribute was your idea--if you
think it's funny...

LOU
No, no. You're absolutely right. The
guy deserves a dignified farewell.

MARY
Exactly. Now I thought we might open
with some film of him at work, and
maybe just the words, "As We Remember
Him."

SUE ANN
Oh, Mary, that's beautiful.

MURRAY
Yeah, that's nice--really nice.

LOU
Great idea. As we remember him.
(Checking list)
Who was Aunt Yoo-Hoo?

MARY
(Embarrassed, quickly)
Oh, well, I don't think we'd want to
use Aunt Yoo-Hoo...

LOU
Why not? What did he do as Aunt Yoo-
Hoo?

MARY
Nothing much. He'd just... put on a
dress and scream "Yoo-Hoo."

LOU
I don't want to remember him that
way...

MARY
...T-then at the end of the show
he'd... you know, bend over... um,
with his little back to the camera...
and on the seat of his--his bloomers,
ah, would be written... "the end."

MURRAY
(Beat)
Maybe they should bury him that way.

Sue Ann and Lou break up. Mary turns and looks right at
Murray, really disappointed. Murray can't look at her.

MARY
(Tight)
Okay, Murr. I give up. You win.
Chuckles' death was a scream.

MURRAY
Aw come on, Mair. We're not laughing
at his death. We all liked him and
we're sorry.

INT. MORTUARY CHAPEL - DAY

We don't actually see a casket. We see two or three rows of
people, facing a small lectern where the minister will speak.
Two of the rows are strangers: one is WJM people. Sue Ann is
there. After a beat, Ted, Georgette and Mary enter, make
their way up the aisle, and slide into the WJM row. Organ
music plays faintly. They exchange hellos.

SUE ANN
You're looking very nice, Ted.

TED
Thanks, Sue Ann. I just paid half a
buck to have my shoes done. Cream
shine. I think that's what he would
have wanted.

GEORGETTE
(Looking around)
Why do people always send flowers
when someone passes on?

SUE ANN
What would you suggest, dear, fruit?

GEORGETTE
It's so sad. Funerals always come
too late.

MARY
Ah, I'm... not sure I understand
that, Georgette.

GEORGETTE
Well, I mean, we take people for
granted while they're with us. Then,
when they're gone, we wish we'd been
nicer to them. So we dress in black
and cry our eyes out. Why don't we
ever think to do that while they're
still alive?

MARY
Good question.

TED
I wish I'd been nicer to Chuckles
when I had the chance. I always kind
of looked down on him--you know, him
being a clown. I was prejudiced
against him just because his skin
was different colors than mine.

Lou and Murray enter. They all exchange hellos.

LOU
(Looking around)
Not much of a crowd.

TED
I know. If it were my funeral this
place would be packed.

MURRAY
That's right, Ted. It's just a matter
of giving the public what they want.

LOU
(Still looking around)
I wonder which ones are the other
clowns?

MURRAY
You'll know soon. They're all going
to jump out of a little hearse.

MARY
(Sharply)
Murray--enough is enough. This is a
funeral. Somebody has died. It's not
something to make jokes about. We
came here to show respect--not to
laugh.

MURRAY
I'm sorry, Mary, you're right. No
more jokes.

Organ music stops and Reverend Burke steps to the lectern.

BURKE
My friends... "Any man's death
diminishes me, because I am involved
in mankind. Therefore, ask not for
whom the bell tolls--it tolls for
thee."

TED
(Sotto: scandalized)
Hey, Lou, he stole your poem!

BURKE
Chuckles the Clown gave pleasure to
millions. The characters he created
will be remembered by children and
adults alike: Peter Peanut, Mr. Fee-
Fi-Fo, Billy Banana, and my particular
favorite, Aunt Yoo-Hoo.

Mary stifles a laugh.

BURKE
And not just for the laughter they
provided--there was always some deeper
meaning to whatever Chuckles did.
Remember Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo's little catch
phrase, remember how when his arch
rival Senor Caboom would hit him
with the giant cucumber and knock
him down? Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo would always
pick himself up, dust himself off
and say, "I hurt my foo-foo."

Mary again stifles a laugh. The others in the row glare at
her.

BURKE
Life's a lot like that. From time to
time we all fall down and hurt our
foo-foo's.

Mary again stifles a laugh. Other people turn to look at
her.

BURKE
If only we could all deal with it as
simple and bravely and honestly as
Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo. And what did Chuckles
ask in return? Not much--in his own
words--"A little song, a little dance,
a little seltzer down your pants."

Mary has great difficulty in stifling herself here. Many
people turn to look at her.

BURKE
(Looking right at
Mary)
Excuse me, young lady... yes you...
would you stand up please?

Mary, with no alternative, stands up.

BURKE
You feel like laughing, don't you?
Don't try to stop yourself. Go ahead,
laugh out loud. Don't you see? Nothing
could have made Chuckles happier. He
lived to make people laugh. He found
tears offensive, deeply offensive.
He hated to see people cry. Go ahead,
my dear--laugh.

As Mary bursts into tears, we:

FADE OUT

END OF ACT TWO

TAG

FADE IN

INT. MARY'S APARTMENT - IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING FUNERAL

Mary, Lou, Murray, Georgette, Ted and Sue Ann enter.

MARY
(To Lou)
But I just felt so dumb standing
there like that.

LOU

Mary, forget about it. Everybody else did. All in all it was
a very nice funeral.

GEORGETTE
Right. All's well that ends well...

MARY
Everybody just make yourself at home.
I'll put some coffee on.

GEORGETTE
You know. It's just the sort of
funeral I would want.

SUE ANN
Not me. I want to be cremated and
have my ashes thrown on Robert
Redford.

MURRAY
What about you, Lou?

LOU
I don't want anybody to make any
fuss. When I go, I just want to be
stood outside in the garbage with my
hat on.

MURRAY
What kind of a funeral do you want,
Mary?

MARY
Do we have to talk about this?

SUE ANN
C'mon, Mary, everyone else has.

MARY
Oh, I don't really care. I just don't
want an organ playing sad music.

MURRAY
What do you want them to play--
"Everything's Coming Up Roses"?

TED
I'd like a real fancy funeral if I
were going to die.

LOU
What do you mean "if"?

TED
I'm not going to die.

MURRAY
Why not? How else are you going to
be reunited with your brain?

TED
No, I'm not going to die. See, I'm
into this thing where if I ever get
sick--real sick--like I'm about to
go--they take me away and freeze me.
Then, two or three hundred years
from now when they find a cure for
whatever it was that was wrong with
me then they'll just unfreeze me.

GEORGETTE
That's terrific, Ted. Maybe when you
come back you won't complain so much
about my cold feet.

FADE OUT

THE END