Grant Tinker, who produced “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and other television hits in the 1970s and transformed NBC from a perennial ratings loser to a powerhouse of literate, sophisticated network programming that helped change America’s viewing habits in the ’80s, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 90.
Tinker was married to Mary Tyler Moore. The two helping produce MTM Enterprises creating shows such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “Rhoda”, “The Bob Newhart Show”, “St. Elsewhere” and “Hill Street Blues.”
Tinker was born in Stamford, Connecticut. During World War II, Tinker served in the United States Army Air Forces Reserve. Tinker graduated from Dartmouth College. His sons, Mark and John are also producers.
In 1961 Tinker rejoined NBC and was the head of West Coast programming where he developed I Spy, Dr. Kildare, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Tinker hired Room 222 writers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns to create and produce the company’s first television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. MTM produced such popular American sitcoms and drama television series as Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere.
After his divorce from Moore in 1981, Tinker left MTM to become the chairman and CEO of NBC, then the perennial last-place American television network (in terms of Nielsen ratings and profits). During Tinker’s tenure in NBC’s top position, the network regained ratings and produced popular shows like The Cosby Show, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues.
Tinker left NBC in 1986, shortly after its parent company RCA was bought by General Electric. After leaving the network, Tinker tried to repeat his success with MTM by forming GTG (Grant Tinker-Gannett) Entertainment but the business venture failed and the company closed in 1990.
Tinker was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2004, Tinker won a personal Peabody Award “for recognizing, protecting, and fostering creativity of the highest order.”
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