Grant Tinker died on Monday, November 28, and he will be widely remembered as a man who made a huge difference to NBC, and to television everywhere. According to CBS Miami, Tinker was a “beloved” producer who “brought new polish” to the TV world as a whole during his decades as “both a producer and a network boss.”
Tinker was a former chairman of NBC and the “nurturing hand” that made MTM Enterprises a household name.
RIP Grant Tinker, who famously told NBC in the 1980s, "First be best. Then be first." And then they went out and did both.— Brian Lowry (@blowryontv) November 30, 2016
Tinker was highly respected in the industry and well known for practicing an unusual business philosophy “first be best, then be first,” instead of winning at any cost. The Rhoda, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bob Newhart Show producer practiced what he preached and applied his philosophy to everyone in his companies, from lowest to highest.
According to Variety, Grant was so well-liked in the movie industry because his leadership style was all about “empowering writers, directors and producers to execute their vision without micromanagement from above.”
One of the most successful examples of that vision was the iconic Mary Tyler Moore, produced by Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore together.
Grant and Tyler Moore were married when he founded MTM, one of the “most iconic independent production companies in history.” The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the “pinnacle of that partnership and will stand the test of time.”
Mike Barnes tweeted Tinker’s marriage to Mary Tyler Moore first on his “just for starters” list of Tinker’s achievements.
Even though Tinker was the man who came through for NBC with a “last-ditch” and hugely successful campaign to save the struggling network, he was also the kind of “low-key” guy who gave the credit for his success to others.
“I just had the good luck to be around people who did the kind of work that the audience appreciates. The success just rubbed off on me.”
NBC got the benefit of Grant’s amazing talents no less than three times in the decades since 1949 when he joined as a management trainee. When he left for the last time, it was “the end of an era.”
Tinker was so well-respected that he was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award, recognizing his extraordinary contributions throughout his career. Even that didn’t go to his head, and in his acceptance speech, Grant said he was “a guy of no distinct or specific skills (who) always needed a lot of help.”
Whether he needed that help or not, his colleagues and employees were always eager to offer it. Steve Burke became the sole owner of NBCUniversal in 2013, and he is totally aware of how much he owes Tinker and how much the producer influenced the television world.
“Grant Tinker was a great man who made an indelible mark on NBC and the history of television that continues to this day. He loved creative people and protected them, while still expertly managing the business. Very few people have been able to achieve such a balance.”
As celebrities and fans hear the news of Tinker’s death, they are sharing their memories on social media. Robert Evans used hashtags to call him a legend and said his friendship with Grant is treasured.
Mary Tyler Moore released a statement saying she was “deeply saddened” to hear of Grant’s death. Variety reports that Moore described Grant as a “brilliant, driven executive” and said that he was unique in his understanding that great television content only happens when there is “freedom for its creators and performing artists.”
Tinker’s producer son, Mark Tinker, announced the sad news of his father’s death. He said that Grant was 90-years-old when he died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles.
“[He] set the bar high both as a television executive and as a father,” said Mark Tinker. “I’m proud to be his son, and especially proud of the legacy he leaves behind in business and as a gentleman.”
so sad to hear about grant tinker, all my love is with mary tyler moore. her ex husband and her son richie are now reunited...????❤ pic.twitter.com/IMknnRlMzj— •linsey• (@foliealinsey) November 30, 2016
[Featured Image by Michael Buckner/Getty Images]