Mary Tyler Moore Grant Tinker
Associated Press

Actress Mary Tyler Moore has paid tribute to her former husband, Grant Tinker, who founded the MTM Enterprises production company behind Moore’s groundbreaking CBS comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Tinker died Monday at the age of 90. He and Moore were married in 1962 and divorced in 1981.

“I am deeply saddened to learn that my former husband and professional mentor Grant Tinker has passed away,” Moore said in a statement.

“I’m forever grateful for and proud of what we achieved together with the creation of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and founding of MTM Enterprises (an independent production studio that created what remain some of the best TV shows ever made),” Moore continued. “Grant was a brilliant, driven executive who uniquely understood that the secret to great TV content was freedom for its creators and performing artists. This was manifest in his ‘first be best and then be first’ approach. He lived life to the fullest in his nearly 91 years and he left an indelible mark on the television industry and its audiences. My thoughts are with his four children, John, Mark, Michael and Jodie.”

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Grant Tinker -- Pictured (l-r) Grant Tinker  April 1, 1983 -- (Photo by: Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

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“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran from 1970 to 1977. It coincided with the rise of the feminist movement in offering a look at a single, career-oriented woman whose life was not defined by marriage or motherhood. Behind the scenes, MTM also reflected a level of equality with Moore serving as chairman and Tinker as president. The company’s on-screen logo was famously a take-off on MGM, with a meowing cat in place of a roaring lion.

MTM in its heyday was also home to such notable series as “Hill Street Blues,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “St. Elsewhere,” “The White Shadow” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Tinker sold his stake to Moore when he took the helm of NBC in 1981. The move cost him millions in future syndication profits. but he did it to avoid the suggestion of conflicts of interest in his role as NBC chairman-CEO.

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