Former NBC chairman and CEO, Grant Tinker, has died at the age of 90. Together with Mary Tyler Moore, to whom he was married from 1962 to 1982, Tinker formed MTM Enterprises. According to reports, he died at home in California, on November 28, 2016.
The production company produced iconic TV sitcoms such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-offs Rhoda and Phyllis, as well as The Bob Newhart Show and WKRP in Cincinnati. MTM Enterprises was also behind critically acclaimed dramas like Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere — and another MTM spin-off — Lou Grant.
Grant Tinker Dead at Age 90
In 1981, Tinker left [MTM Enterprises] to become chairman and CEO of then-last-place network NBC. There, guided by his famous motto “First be best, then be first,” Tinker, with Brandon Tartikoff as his entertainment president, spearheaded a ratings turnaround as NBC rose from last to first place on the strength of a slew of hit and acclaimed new series, including The Cosby Show, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues. Tinker left NBC in 1986, following its acquisition by General Electric.
Tinker won a personal Peabody Award in 1994 and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997. He is survived by his four children, including director-producer Mark Tinker and writer-producer John Tinker.
“My father set the bar high both as a television executive and a father,” said Mark Tinker, executive producer on NBC’s Chicago PD. “I never heard anyone speak of him with anything other than respect and admiration. I’m proud to be his son and especially proud of the legacy he leaves behind in business and as a gentleman.”
Mr. Tinker got his start in television, working as an intern at NBC, in 1949. Despite — or perhaps because of his humble beginnings — he would go on to make incredible contributions to the world of entertainment.
Watch his Archive of American Television interview. He discusses his early start and also references classic TV shows, including The Danny Thomas Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, as well as The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
We invite you to share your memories of Mr. Tinker and his legacy, below.