Ed Asner: Legendary actor from Elf and UP dies at 91


Legendary actor and icon, Ed Asner, passed away peacefully Sunday morning, surrounded by family. He was 91.

Asner is best known for his role on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Lou Grant, pulling off the rare feat of playing the same character in both a comedy and a drama series. His most recent television roles included arcs on Netflix’s Cobra Kai, playing Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) stepfather Sid Weinberg; Grace and Frankie; and Dead to Me.

In film, Asner had several high profile roles including playing Santa Claus in Elf and making us all shed several tears voicing Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s Oscar-winning UP. Asner’s other extensive voice-over résumé includes providing the voices for Joshua on Joshua and the Battle of Jericho (1986) for Hanna-Barbera, J. Jonah Jameson on the Spider-Man series (1994–98), Hoggish Greedly on Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990–95), Roland Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series (1992–94), Ed Wuncler on The Boondocks (2005–14) and Granny Goodness in various animated DC series.

Asner, who was the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, was born on November 15, 1929, in Kansas City. He started his acting career in theater and helped found the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago which was the predecessor to The Second City. In 1970, Asner made it big playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. When the series ended in 1977, Asner continued playing the role on the spinoff Lou Grant which ran until 1982. Asner also was a series regular on Thunder Alley, The Bronx Zoo, and Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He also delivered acclaimed performances on two hugely popular miniseries, Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man, which both earned him Emmy Awards. Asner also holds the distinction of being the most awarded male performer in Emmy history with a staggering seven wins.

As SAG president from 1981-1985, Asner opposed U.S. policy in Central America and his decades of political activism also include his support for the efforts to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the movement to establish a single-payer health care program California One Care. The Ed Asner Family Center, which was launched in 2017 by his son, Matt Asner, and daughter-in-law Navah Paskowitz Asner, provides counseling services, support groups, enrichment programs, and camps to special needs individuals and their families.

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