Grant Tinker 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.
As president of MTM Enterprises, a company he founded with his second wife, Mary Tyler Moore, in 1970, Mr. Tinker produced the show named for her, one of the first series to feature an independent career woman as the central character, as well as spinoffs like “Rhoda” and the one-hour newsroom drama “Lou Grant,” which examined real societal issues.
And as chairman and chief executive of NBC from 1981 to 1986, Mr. Tinker crammed prime time with many of television’s most imaginative, successful and long-running series, including “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Family Ties,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Miami Vice.”
Grant Almerin Tinker was born on Jan. 11, 1926, in Stamford, Conn., the son of a lumber supplier. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1949 and joined NBC as an executive trainee, but left in 1954. He went into advertising and for seven years developed programs for television — as ad agencies did then — first for McCann-Erickson and later for Benton & Bowles.
In 1961, Mr. Tinker rejoined NBC in Los Angeles, in charge of West Coast programming, and developed “I Spy,” “Dr. Kildare” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
He returned to New York as the head of programming in 1966, but quit in 1967 to return to California, where he developed television series for Universal. Setting out as an independent in 1970, Mr. Tinker and Ms. Moore formed MTM to produce “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” for CBS.
Mr. Tinker and the former Ruth Byerly were married in 1950 and divorced in 1962. They had four children, Mark, Michael, Jodie and John. Mr. Tinker and Ms. Moore, who were married in 1963 and divorced in 1981, had no children.
Mr. Tinker’s survivors include his sons Mark and John. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.more » « less