Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday at age 80. The loss of the comedy icon was swiftly followed by a deluge of tributes to and memories of Moore, and now Dick Van Dyke is joining the masses with a touching remembrance of his Dick Van Dyke Show co-star and longtime friend. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Van Dyke recalled first meeting Moore, noting that she “sounded a little bit like Katharine Hepburn,” and wondering, “Can this girl do comedy?” Moore was just 24 (11 years younger than Van Dyke) when they shared the screen in the classic sitcom, and Van Dyke says he watched “her grow into the talent she became,” turning his doubt into an affirmation that “she was just the best.” He explains:
I don’t know what made her comic timing so great. 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 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.
After The Dick Van Dyke Show, Van Dyke attests that he remained a huge supporter of Moore’s as she brought “masterful comedy” to her own Mary Tyler Moore Show. Of her legacy, he says, “Just to watch her grow was such a thrill for me. She left an imprint on television comedy.” Amen.