Grant Almerin Tinker (January 11, 1926 – November 28, 2016) was an American television executive who served as Chairman and CEO of NBC from 1981 to 1986. Additionally, he was the co-founder of MTM Enterprises and a television producer. Tinker was the husband of actress and producer Mary Tyler Moore for 19 years (1962–1981).
Life and career
Tinker was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the son of Margaret (née Hessin) and Arthur Almerin Tinker.
During World War II, Tinker served in the United States Army Air Forces Reserve. He graduated from Dartmouth College. His sons, Mark and John, are also television 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 married Moore in 1962. In 1969, they formed the television production company MTM Enterprises. 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 the popular shows The Cosby Show, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues. Tinker left the network in 1986, shortly after its parent company RCA was bought by General Electric. After leaving NBC, 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 married three times. In 1950 to Ruth Byerly, with whom he had three sons and a daughter. Two of their sons, Mark and John, are successful producers. Tinker's marriage to Byerly ended in divorce in 1962. Later that same year, Tinker married actress Mary Tyler Moore. This marriage also ended in divorce 19 years later in 1981. Tinker's third marriage was to aviator Brooke Knapp, with whom he remained married until his death in 2016.
Tinker died at his Los Angeles home on November 28, 2016, at the age of 90. His death came just two months before the death of his ex-wife Mary Tyler Moore.
Awards and honors
- 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."