Gwendolyn Gillen, 76, Wis. artist who cast Mary Tyler Moore sculpture
MADISON, Wis. — Gwendolyn Gillen, a Wisconsin artist whose bronze sculpture of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat became a downtown Minneapolis landmark, died Jan. 27. She was 76.
Her daughter, Alessandra Gillen, said her mother died in hospice care at Madison Heights Senior Community in Madison, where she had lived since 2013.
Gwendolyn Gillen, who grew up in Quincy, Mass., died two days after Moore died at the age of 80.
Alessandra Gillen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel her mother was most proud of the Moore statue.
After Moore’s death, more than 150 people tossed their hats near the statue in homage to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
In 2002, Ms. Gillen’s life-sized statue of Moore was dedicated on Nicollet Mall, a pedestrian mall near where Moore threw her tam in the opening credits of her 1970s TV show, ‘‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’’
“It’s so enjoyable, really, to be portraying a woman,’’ she told the Journal Sentinel at the time.
“Sculptors are very seldom called upon to depict a woman of prominence. This is all very refreshing.”
Capturing the toss was not easy, Ms. Gillen told the Journal Sentinel in 2001.
“I actually practiced throwing the hat to find out when it left the hand,” she said. “It comes out between 75 and 80 degrees on the slant. So I’m showing it at just between 78 and 80 degrees, with the hat just touching the fingers of her extended right hand, and the thumb open.
“I’m not trying to do anything tricky or silly — suspending wires or attaching it to a building or pole. I thought this would be a good way to achieve the effect.”
The statue is on display in the Minneapolis Visitor Center during mall reconstruction.
Gwendolyn Scrivener was born on Jan. 6, 1941. Her father, Carl H. Scrivener, was an editor at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.
She studied acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, married Ronald Gillen in 1961, and accompanied him on his Air Force assignments.
They settled in the Milwaukee area in the late 1960s, and Ms. Gillen became involved in set design work at a local theater.
Her husband died in 2012. A son, Christopher Gillen, died in 2015. Besides her daughter, of Milwaukee, she leaves a sister.
Material from The Washington Post was used in this obituary.