Ed Asner, the veteran actor known for his extensive work, including his roles on Lou Grant and The Mary Tyler Moore Show has passed away. Asner’s family confirmed that he passed away Sunday morning. The TV legend was 91 at the time of his passing.
The Asner family did not confirm a cause of death when they confirmed their patriarch’s passing via Twitter. However, his passing is sure to come as a surprise to many, considering that the actor was still incredibly spry and lively. His family paid tribute to him with this brief statement:
Very few actors have been privileged enough to have a career as extensive as Ed Asner’s. Then again, not too many actors have the distinct skills and on-screen presence the actor possessed. For years, Anser entered avid TV viewers’ homes via their TV and delighted them with his witty, tough guy persona, which only masked his soft side.
Ed Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 15 to immigrant parents. After graduating from college, the young Asner would serve his country as a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. During his service, he would star in plays that toured army camps across Europe and, after his military tenure was finished, he truly caught the acting bug and joined Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago before heading to New York.
After a stint on Broadway in the early ‘60s, Ed Asner began to pick up roles in both movies and TV shows. But it would ultimately be the latter that would allow him to make his mark on pop culture. After working through the ‘60s, Asner landed a role alongside Mary Tyler Moore in CBS’ The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. Asner played Lou Grant, a veteran journalist, who served as the news director of the fictional WJM-TV in Minneapolis. Grant usually served as the straight man to Moore’s Mary Richard’s and her TV co-workers but would show that he cared for his colleagues on many occasions.
Ed Asner earned critical acclaim for his role as Grant and earned three Emmy awards for his performance during the show’s seven-season run. The character actually proved to be so popular that after TMTMS ended its run in 1977, Asner was tapped to headline the spinoff series Lou Grant. While its predecessor was a half-hour sitcom, Lou Grant was an hour-long drama that tackled the issues of the day. Asner would achieve even more recognition, with an additional two Emmy wins. With these wins, he’s only one of two actors (the other being Uzo Aduba) to win comedy and drama Emmys for playing the same character.
In the years following his time as Lou Grant, Ed Asner continued to work consistently. During the later years in which he played Grant, he starred in the short-lived series Rich Man, Poor Man and the acclaimed miniseries Roots, both of which earned him Emmy wins. Throughout the next few decades, he also guest starred in various shows like Mad About You, The X-Files and even Netflix's Cobra Kai. Not unlike Star Wars' Mark Hamill, he also made a name for himself as a voice actor, having lent his vocals to shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man, Gargoyles and King of the Hill.
Voice acting would also give him one of his most beloved roles in the form of Carl Fredricksen, the cranky but lovable widower in Pixar’s Up. On the big screen, Ed Asner would also play roles in films like The Bachelor and Elf.
Ed Asner’s impact on screen (and off screen as the president of the Screen Actors Guild) cannot be overstated. He leaves an indelible mark on the history of entertainment and, while we’ll surely miss him, we can be grateful that we had his talents for so long.
We here at CinemaBlend extend our deepest thoughts and condolences to the family and loved ones of Ed Asner at this time.
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