When you’ve had a career as long and influential as Ed Asner enjoyed, it makes sense that your death would be marked by fans and colleagues from different generations. It’s sad news indeed, then to report that Asner has died at the age of 91.
Born in 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri, Edward David Asner began his acting career in college, appearing in productions at the University of Chicago. After serving in the US Army’s Signal Corps in the early 1950s, Asner moved to New York to pursue an acting career. Theatre was an early passion, and he ended up helping to found the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, the predecessor of comedy breeding ground Second City.
His list of TV credits is mammoth, and it might be easier to list the shows he didn’t appear in. Asner was most famous for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, playing grumbling but lovable newsman Lou Grant, who scored his own spin-off after the end of the original series. Other series included ER, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, The Good Wife and more recently, Cobra Kai. Asner is the most awarded male performer in Emmy history with seven wins — five of them for playing Grant. He also received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2001.
Though his movie career doesn’t included as many big recognisable titles, he was Santa in perennial Christmas favourite Elf, and an eclectic selection such as JFK, They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, Hard Rain, and was working constantly, with a number of films still to arrive.
He had an extensive career voicing characters on screens of both sizes – most notably playing grouchy Carl Fredricksen in Up, and a variety of TV roles including J. Jonah Jameson on the 1990s Spider-Man series Roland Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series and a Jedi master in a Star Wars video game. His voice will also be heard once again as Carl in the Up spin-off series Dug Days that is launching this coming week on Disney+.
Asner was also very busy behind the scenes, working to protect the rights of his fellow performers as a former president of the Screen Actors Guild and raising money for a number of good causes. His family announced his death and paid tribute in tweet form.