Legendary Actor Ed Asner Dies at 91

Asner last appeared on Broadway in the Fall of 2013

By: Aug. 29, 2021

Legendary Actor Ed Asner Dies at 91

Legendary actor, activist and philanthropist Ed Asner passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, surrounded by family at 91.

Ed Asner is most well-known for his portrayal of gruff but soft-hearted Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and subsequently in his own hour-long drama spinoff, "Lou Grant," a role which earned him five Emmys and three Golden Globes. Asner received two more Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. Mr. Asner also starred as the voice of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's 2009 box office hit UP! and as Santa Claus in the holiday classic Elf opposite Will Ferrell.

He most recently starred in the feature films Honor Amongst Men alongside Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett, Angels on Tap opposite Marion Ross, and The Parting Glass with Melissa Leo, Cynthia Nixon, Denis O'Hare, and Anna Paquin, as well as appearances in television shows "Forgive Me," "Cobra Kai," "Michael: Every Day," "The Good Wife," and "Bones," among many others. Mr. Asner recently completed his work on the feature film Faith, Hope & Love with Michael Richards and Corbin Bernsen, as well as Senior Entourage with Mark Rydell, Helen Reddy, and Marion Ross. He has lent his distinct vocal talents to numerous animated shows, including "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Boondocks," "King of the Hill," "Johnny Bravo," "Spider-Man," "Gargoyles," and "Captain Planet and the Planeteers."

Ed continued to do his one-man show A Man and His Prostate until recent times, written by Ed Weinberger. Asner's additional credits include the NBC telefilm Buddy The Elf, the Hallmark telefilm All of My Heart starring Lacey Chabert, the CBS series "Criminal Minds" starring Joe Mantegna, "Hawaii 5-0" starring Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, "Mom" starring Allison Janney, "The Crazy Ones" with the late Robin Williams, as well as "Chasing Life" with Marion Ross for ABC Family and the TBS primetime series "Men At Work." He and starred opposite Markie Post in the Lifetime telefilm Christmas On the Bayou.

Asner returned to Broadway in the Fall of 2013 starring in the comedy drama Grace opposite Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington, written by Craig Wright and directed by Dexter Bullard. He also toured the country as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the critically acclaimed one man show FDR for over 5 years.

Previously he appeared on Broadway in 1989 as Harry Brock, Face of a Hero as Perry Cates and The Threepenny Opera in 1955 as a replacement.

One of the most honored actors in the history of television, Edward Asner has been the recipient of seven Emmy Awards and 16 nominations, as well as five Golden Globe Awards and served as National President of the Screen Actors Guild for two terms. He was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1996. Asner received the Ralph Morgan Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2000, presented periodically for distinguished service to the Guild's Hollywood membership. In March 2002, he was again honored by The Guild as the 38th recipient of the prestigious Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment, presented annually to an actor who fosters the highest ideals of the profession.

Below, hear from Asner's friends and colleagues upon hearing of his passing:

OMG! I am staggered. and heart-broken! ED ASNER, was an acting and political activist giant. I was just privileged and honored to have recorded his very last long interview this week and we spoke about his last wishes.
- John Barbour (5x Emmy winning broadcaster)

Ed was a wonderful man and I had a long good friendship with him. I was looking forward to doing an upcoming reading with him of "Two Jews Taking." We just had rehearsal last Tuesday. We are heartbroken, heart sick and devastated by the news and send love to the family.
- Jamie Farr

Ed and I were both from KICK and made our way to Hollywood. He was a mentor and a friend. I am sure he will be a force to be reckoned with up there!
- Dee Wallace

I am devastated by the news of our dear Ed's passing, but so honored that I got to work with him again just recently. He was a real trooper. His Wild and wicked sense of humor made life more joyous for everyone who crossed his path.
- Ruta Lee

Ed Asner is a Legacy SAG President, a consummate award winning actor, a close friend and a dedicated unionist until the end, who extolled his belief that our SAG-AFTRA Membership First has priority.
- Frances Fisher

I have known and loved Ed Asner for most of my life. Obviously I admire him an entertainer; but as a mom of a child with autism, I adore him for his tireless work with the special-needs community. I am a huge supporter of the Ed Asner Family Center. My thoughts are with his family.
- Erin Murphy

Oh God! He was the best there was - I am devastated. I loved him so much! He was the best of the best. It doesnt get better than my dear friend. My beloved Franklin Roosevelt. I finite experience sharing a stage with this remarkable man.
- Loretta Swit

Ed Asner was a comic genius and a lifelong activist. I recently had the privilege of serving on the SAG-AFTRA LA Local Board with him and was so impressed with his dedication. Bon Voyage, Ed.
- Lee Purcell

Edward Asner toiled for years on stage, radio, and television without recognition when The Mary Tyler Moore Show made him a household name. He rode that wave for decades to follow, never failing to deliver first-rate performances in both comedies and dramas. Clearly, he loved to act and just as clearly he cared about his fellow actors.
- Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian

I had the pleasure of first meeting Mr. Asner in the late 70s as we were both invited to a mutual friend's house to break the Yom Kippur fast. I was about 15 or so and we had an amazing conversation on the craft of acting, the actor's commitment, and how "no" is the most empowering word in an actor's vocabulary. I got to work with him a few times on cartoons, most memorably on Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Watching Asner play J. Jonah Jameson was a master class in acting. He happened to sound like Lou Grant, but Asner brought layer and character that was pure Jameson. Although I got to work on the film Up we never had recording sessions together. But I was later able to get some chat time with him to discuss his charming performance in this film. A great life and career!
- (Voice of Porky Pig) Bob Bergen

Loved his work and his lifelong commitment to social causes.
- Barry Livingston

Ed was a good friend. He was a loud, sometimes brash, always outspoken, courageous champion of justice. A light went out in the universe at his passing. Shelley and I will miss him dearly.
- Mike Farrell

Ed was what we in the business like to refer to as "An Actor's Actor." Both my husband, Larry Luckinbill, and I had enormous respect for him and his body of work. He was the real deal.
- Lucie Arnaz


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