Ed Asner, the actor best known for playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977) and Lou Grant (1977 – 1982), died today at the age of 91. Mr. Asner is one of the few actors to play the same character in a comedy and a drama. He also is the male actor to have won the most Primetime Emmy Awards with seven.
Mr. Asner began his career with uncredited roles on the series Studio One in 1957. His IMDb resume now contains over 400 acting credits with several that were lined up for the future. That shows amazing popularity in a career lasting over 60 years. The demand for Mr. Asner’s talents had not diminished despite him being over 90!
Before his career defining role as Lou Grant, Ed Asner regularly guest starred on popular tv series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Route 66; The Untouchables; The Outer Limits; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; The Rat Patrol; Gunsmoke; The Fugitive; The Wild Wild West; The Invaders; Mission Impossible; and many, many others.
In 1970, Ed Asner shot to fame for his role as the gruff but loveable, Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mr. Asner and his character were popular to earn a spin off series moving from a half hour comedy to a full hour drama titled Lou Grant. His portrayal of Lou Grant earned Ed Asner five of his seven Emmy Awards. Mr. Asner also played Lou Grant on two other series (Rhoda and Roseanne). Mr. Asner’s other two Emmy Awards were for his work on Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man.
Ed Asner also appeared in feature films with his best known probably being the lead voice actor on Up or the bad guy in El Dorado starring John Wayne. Mr. Asner was in high demand for voice work and he did quite a bit of it as well.
When not acting, Mr. Asner was involved in activities that he felt strongly about. He twice served as President of the Screen Actors Guild and was involved with many non-profit organizations and charities.
Watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a weekly family event and a large (no pun intended) part of that was Ed Asner as Lou Grant. Everyone was able to play off of him and his reactions were classic. I was impressed at how easy it was for his character to move from an award-winning 30 minute comedy to an award-winning 60 minute drama. That couldn’t happen without an excellent actor.
I think what I loved most about Ed Asner was his attitude toward life. He spoke up for his beliefs, was positive in his posts (yes, at 91 he was active on Twitter!) and was able to stay popular and relevant in an ever-changing world!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.