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'
Ed Asner Dead at 91
Photo: Gage Skidmore
Ed Asner — a seven-time Emmy winning American actor known best for his work as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and more recent turns in Up and Elf — has died. Asner's family confirmed he passed Sunday (August 29), though a cause of death was not revealed. He was 91.

"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-ManAmerican 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.