Mary Tyler Moore's big break came in 1961, when she landed the role of Dick Van Dyke's wife Laura on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was just 23 at the time, but she quickly proved that she had the comedic chops to keep up with her veteran co-stars Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam, and Rose Marie.
The show went off the air in 1966, but Van Dyke and Moore remained close, even while Moore's health deteriorated in her later years (she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 33). In January 2012, Van Dyke presented Moore with a Life Achievement Award onstage during the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which was one of her last public appearances.
spoke with Van Dyke, now 91, shortly after on Wednesday. In his statement, Van Dyke fondly remembers his first thoughts upon meeting Moore. "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," he wrote. "That show was the best five years of my life."
But perhaps the most heartbreaking part is hearing Van Dyke describe what it was like to present his friend and colleague with the Life Achievement award.
"In 2012, I got to present her with her SAG Life Achievement award. 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 onstage in the dark. For me, it was a payoff moment. 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."
Read Van Dyke's full statement at , and for old times' sake, take another look at the incomparable comedic duo in action below.