Dick Van Dyke is mourning the death of his longtime friend and co-star Mary Tyler Moore. According to Variety, Moore died on Jan. 25 in Connecticut at age 80, surrounded by her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, and family. Earlier in the day, TMZ reported that the Emmy-winning actress was hospitalized in grave condition at a Connecticut hospital and that family members were called to the hospital to say their goodbyes. The TV legend suffered from multiple health problems over the years, including a long battle with diabetes and a 2011 brain surgery.
After news of Moore’s death broke, Dick Van Dyke took to Facebook to remember his late TV wife and friend of 55 years. Dick wrote that he and Mary “changed each other’s lives for the better.”
“There are no words,” Van Dyke wrote. “She was THE BEST! We always said that we changed each other’s lives for the better. I watched her grow into the incredible talent that she became. There won’t be another one like her.”
Van Dyke also paid tribute to his late TV co-star in an essay for the Hollywood Reporter.
“I don’t know what made her comic timing so great. ” Dick said. “On Dick Van Dyke, we had Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, both of whom were old hams and had razor-sharp timing, and mine wasn’t bad either. But Mary just picked it up so fast…She just grabbed onto the character and literally turned us into an improv group, it was so well-oiled. That show was the best five years of my life.
“The funny thing was, after the show went off the air, Mary had the reputation of being the wife, the woman who brings the coffee. So we cooked up this special called Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman where we showed off everything she could do, and that somehow changed CBS’ mind and that’s how she got The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It fell into the hands of great writers. It was a milestone, that show….Outside of her family, I don’t think there was anyone more proud of her than I was. Just to watch her grow was such a thrill for me. She left an imprint on television comedy.”
While she was best known for her starring role as Mary Richards on the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore kicked off her career a decade earlier opposite Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The then-unknown actress played Van Dyke’s wife, Laura Petrie on the CBS comedy from 1961 to 1966. Mary won two Emmy Awards for her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
— Variety (@Variety) January 25, 2017
In an interview posted by Entertainment Tonight, Dick Van Dyke, now 90, said he had a crush on his TV wife, who was 11 years his junior when they first met.
“The first time I met Mary Tyler Moore, I thought she was just beautiful, but I thought she was a little young,” Dick said of the then-24-year-old actress.
“She had this strange, Mid-Atlantic accent, kind of like Katharine Hepburn, and I said, ‘Well, she’s cute as she can be, but can she do comedy?'”It wasn’t two episodes before her timing came, and her sense of humor. She got it like that, what a pleasure.”
“We had this, like a teenage crush on each other,” Dick Van Dyke added. “It was fun.”
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Van Dyke admitted that he didn’t think the now iconic TV couple would be believable to viewers due to their age difference, but producer Carl Reiner told him the audience would never know the difference. Sure enough, one kiss in the show’s pilot episode and Van Dyke and Moore were convincing as a couple.
While Van Dyke admitted that he had “a real crush on her,” Reiner told ET that Dick and Mary were “really were attracted to each other, but they both had relationships.”
Indeed, in a 2011 interview with The AV Club, Van Dyke the timing was off for a real life romance and that it was always strictly business for the two co-stars.
“The first season, you know, we both liked each other a lot,” Dick said.”We got along so well, our personalities meshed, and of course, she’s attractive, and we were attracted to each other, and admitted it. It became a real honest-to-God crush. I said maybe in another time and a different way, something might have happened, but it didn’t.
Still, the couple’s chemistry was undeniable, and they made TV magic.
“We became like an improv,” Van Dyke said. “You could just tell us a scene and we could make it up. She read me very well, and I read her timing very well, and it was just such a pleasure to work with her.”
In addition to Dick Van Dyke, several of Moore’s other co-stars paid tribute to her. Gavin McLeod, who played her co-worker on the Mary Tyler Moore Show told People he felt honored to work with her, calling the experience “a gift from God.”
“It goes without saying what a wonderful loving and caring person she was to everyone who worked on the show,” McLeod said. “Mary was America’s sweetheart and she was mine also. I was the luckiest guy in the world just sitting next to her and looking at her beautiful face … and legs!
Georgia Engel, who played Georgette Franklin Baxter, told the magazine that her late co-star “was my beloved friend, I loved her very much. She helped launch my career. She will be missed greatly.”
Other co-stars paid tribute to the beloved television icon on social media, including her Dick Van Dyke Show co-star Rose Marie and her Mary Tyler Moore Show co-stars Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman and Ed Asner. At this time, show alum Betty White is reportedly too upset over the death of her friend to grant any interviews.
To The World I'll miss you "Mair."
I will always be your co-pilot. I will always love you, darling Mary Tyler Moore.
— Valerie Harper (@ValerieHarper) January 26, 2017
Betty White not granting any interviews today about the death of Mary Tyler Moore. “She’s very upset,” rep tells me. https://t.co/ZsqZfUGYxD
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) January 25, 2017
The picture that we all have of Mary, that’s how she was—sweet, kind, so tender, so delicate. She was America’s sweetheart. We loved you.
— Cloris Leachman (@Cloris_Leachman) January 26, 2017
— Rose Marie-Official (@RoseMarie4Real) January 25, 2017
#marytylermoore my heart goes out to you and your family. Know that I love you and believe in your strength.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 25, 2017
Mary(MTM) was a gem. She was iconic, my boss, cast mate and a friend and I will miss her
— Michael Keaton (@MichaelKeaton) January 25, 2017
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 25, 2017
Mary Tyler Moore changed the world for all women. I send my love to her family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 25, 2017
I got to work with MTM on miniseries Lincoln in the 80's. Such a pro. She turned the world on with a smile… #MaryTylerMoore
— Thomas Gibson (@ImThomasGibson) January 25, 2017
— Eric McCormack (@EricMcCormack) January 25, 2017
Even now looking at this picture I want to cry. I still can't believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever. pic.twitter.com/6u4ELq27vN
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 25, 2017
Mary Tyler Moore's achievements are for the ages. Van Dyke show, HER show, Ordinary People, MTM cat logo. Definition of an icon.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) January 25, 2017
Take a look at the video below to see Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]