Forever friends. Dick Van Dyke paid tribute to his late costar Mary Tyler Moore on Wednesday, January 25, shortly after the TV icon died at the age of 80. Moore’s rep confirmed to Us Weekly that the actress had passed away at from cardiopulmonary arrest after a week hooked up to a respirator at a Greenwich, Connecticut, hospital.
In a heartfelt tribute as told to The Hollywood Reporter, Dyke recalled first working with the Oscar-nominated star on his ‘60s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, praising the actress for her comedic wit and unprecedented talent.
“She was 23 years old, gorgeous, of course, and had a kind of mid-Atlantic accent,” he recalled of first meeting the star. “She sounded a little bit like Katharine Hepburn. My first question was, ‘Can this girl do comedy?’ 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.”
The 91-year-old TV legend went on to praise Moore’s “comic timing,” telling THR that “Mary picked it up so fast” while working alongside veteran stars Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. “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,” he shared. “That show was the best five years of my life.”
Dyke also reflected on presenting his longtime friend with the SAG Life Achievement Award in 2012.
“She had moved to upstate New York and was already beginning to succumb to the diabetes, so outside of talking to her and her husband, Robert, I didn’t see her unless it was an occasion like the SAG Awards. That night, she had trouble seeing, so they had to bring her on stage in the dark. For me, it was a payoff moment,” he explained. “A culmination. 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.”
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star, who received the same honorary award the following year, also tweeted a tribute to Moore.
“There are no words. She was THE BEST! We always said that we changed each other’s lives for the better,” he affectionately shared, along with a link to their performance of “I’ve Got Your Number.”
Click here to read more heartfelt tributes from Moore’s former costars and A-list friends.
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