August 30, 2021
Ed Asner, who died Aug. 29 at the age of 91, has more than 400 screen credits, including long stints as grumpy newsroom boss Lou Grant on first “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77) and then its spinoff, “Lou Grant” (1977–82).
He won seven Emmy Awards and remained active long after those two series ended, most recently appearing as a guest star in a 2020 episode of “Modern Family.” A year earlier, he appeared in the Netflix dark comedy Dead to Me, alongside Christina Applegate, and in 2018 he guested on the Netflix series “Cobra Kai.”
Aside from Lou Grant, Asner is best remembered for Emmy-winning roles in the 1970s miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Roots,” playing Santa Claus in 2003’s Elf, and providing the voice of retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen in the animated Pixar comedy Up (2009).
Asner also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985.
Asner’s death was announced in a post on his official Twitter account, which read: “We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head — Goodnight dad. We love you.”
Asner was born in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 15, 1929, to Orthodox Jewish immigrants – his father, from Lithuania, and his mother, from Russia. His first brush with show business came on a weekly high school radio program. He broke into theater while studying at the University of Chicago.
After a stint in U.S. Army Signal Corps, Asner helped found the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, which later became the Compass Players — a predecessor to Second City. He later performed on Broadway before heading to California, where he appeared mostly in television and made his film debut in 1962 in the Elvis Presley musical Kid Galahad.
Kid Galahad was released on DVD by MGM in 2005 and is now out of print.
The complete “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” TV series was most recently released by 20th Century Fox on DVD in October 2018, shortly before the studio was swallowed up by Disney. Individual season sets had been rolled out previously.
“Lou Grant” season sets are available through Shout! Factory.