In the wake of Mary Tyler Moore’s death, numerous admirers, co-stars, and friends have come forward with their memories of working with the beloved star. Now, Moore’s first, most famous comedy teammate has offered up his own perspective, with Dick Van Dyke talking to The Hollywood Reporter about the ways she caused The Dick Van Dyke Show’s cast to gel into a single cohesive unit.
“My first question was, ‘Can this girl do comedy?’” Van Dyke told the interviewer. “After that I said, ‘She’s a little young for me.’ I got to be on hand and watch her grow into the talent she became. She was just the best.” Van Dyke’s doubts quickly gave way to awe; describing how Moore—a trained dancer, with only a handful of acting parts to her name—fell in with trained comics like Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam. “But Mary just picked it up so fast. She had us all laughing after a couple of episodes. 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.”
Van Dyke wasn’t the only one of Moore’s long-time comedy partners to talk to The Reporter today; James L. Brooks—who worked for Moore as the creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show—penned a long essay describing Moore’s grace, humility, and boundless comic skill. Describing her with “dancer’s discipline and a dancer’s work ethic,” Brooks noted that Moore was “casually generous,” organizing dance classes for on-set workers and allowing the show’s other stars the chance to shine. “She was brilliant,” Brooks finishes his piece. “Nobody ever found the thing she couldn’t do.”