Ed Asner Dead at 91
The seven-time Emmy winner is best known for his work on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'Elf' and 'Up'
"We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully," the Asner family wrote on Twitter. "Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head — Goodnight dad. We love you."
Born in Kansas City, MO, in 1929, Asner studied at the University of Chicago before dropping out to pursue acting. Following military service in the early '50s, he held roles in stage and television productions in New York City and Chicago, ahead of moving to Los Angeles in the early '60s.
The decade would see Asner appear in a host of television dramas, ahead of being asked to audition for The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1969. The following year, he would be introduced on the show as Lou Grant, a crotchety news producer whose kind-hearted nature was revealed as the series progressed.
Asner's character was given a titular spin-off show in 1977, making Lou Grant one of few characters played by the same actor to have a leading role on both a popular comedy and a popular dramatic series. The more dramatic Lou Grant saw the actor's newsman engage in social commentary and issues of the day.
Over The Mary Tyler Moore Show's seven seasons, Asner won three Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, ahead of winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Lou Grant. Asner also won Emmys for his work on Roots and mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man.
Asner also lent his voice to animated series including Batman and Spider-Man, American Dad and The Boondocks. He appeared as Santa Claus in 2003's Elf, and voiced Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's 2009 film Up. He recently reprised the latter role for the forthcoming spin-off Dug Days, set to premiere September 1 on Disney+.
"My primary source of mail deals with one-syllable titles: Up and Elf. I love them both," Asner shared with The Hollywood Reporter this month. "Will Ferrell is a genius and the funniest man I came across since Ted Knight. Up was geniusly written."
Outside of acting, Asner served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985, and was an advocate for labor unions, animal rights and more.
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.— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) August 29, 2021
Sending love to The great Ed Asner's family. An icon because he was such a beautiful, funny and totally honest actor. No one like him. https://t.co/GgI4pY4aCH— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) August 30, 2021
The Lions are leaving the Circus.— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) August 30, 2021
Ed Asner was a giant in our industry. A great Union man, President of our Actors Guild, a human rights activist.
Ed could slide effortlessly between comedy and drama. My Dad's favorite actor.
It was honor to know and work with him.
Love you, Ed pic.twitter.com/kBOGh9Erc7
Ed Asner always an inspiration. Peace brother.— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) August 30, 2021
Let me tell you about Ed Asner...he was exactly the man you imagined - as open hearted a good guy as I've ever known. He simply loved people. Bless his gorgeous soul.— james l. brooks (@canyonjim) August 30, 2021
Ed Asner was such a good guy - I didn't know him at all but when "Dolemite" was released he contacted me out of the blue to say how much he enjoyed it. What a mensch. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/15c6rU9VVw— Larry Karaszewski (@Karaszewski) August 30, 2021
We just lost a great one. Ed Asner. Seven time Emmy winner—Lou Grant to the star of "UP," Ed always wanted to be part of things that mattered. Cant believe he was just a guest on my podcast August 16. Deepest condolences to his family that he loved so much. pic.twitter.com/R9ryl7De2G— bob saget (@bobsaget) August 29, 2021
RIP Mr. Ed Asner. A thoughtful actor and voice for the animals. pic.twitter.com/dbY2xepmZA— FARM Animal Rights (@FARMUSA) August 29, 2021
Rest #EdAsner after a full, passionate life.— John Lithgow (@JohnLithgow) August 30, 2021