TV swagger Lou Grant actor Ed Asner dies at 91 – .

TV swagger Lou Grant actor Ed Asner dies at 91 – .

LOS ANGELES – Ed Asner, the burly and prolific actor who rose to stardom in his middle years as gruff but lovable reporter Lou Grant, first in the hit comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and later in the drama “Lou Grant,” died Sunday. He was 91 years old.

Asner’s rep confirmed the actor’s death in an email to The Associated Press. Asner’s official Twitter account included a note from his children: “We are sorry to say that our beloved Patriarch passed away peacefully this morning. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on the head – Good night daddy. We love you. “

Built like the soccer lineman he once was, the bald Asner was a fellow actor in movies and television when he was hired in 1970 to play Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” For seven seasons, he was the crumpled boss of Moore’s exuberant Mary Richards (he called her “Mary”, she called her “Mr. Grant”) at the fictional Minneapolis TV newsroom where they both worked. . Later, he will play the role for five years in “Lou Grant”.

The character of Asner was essential from the first episode of “Mary Tyler Moore”, when he said to Mary when they first met: “You have courage … I hate sperm! The inspired cast included Ted Knight as Ted Baxter, the stupid news anchor; Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter, the sarcastic reporter; and Betty White as manipulative, sex-obsessed host Sue Ann Nivens. Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, playing Mary’s Neighbors, both saw their characters turn into their own shows.

Asner is the third “Mary Tyler Moore” alumnus to die in recent months. Leachman died in January and MacLeod in March.

White, 99, is the only surviving main actor of “Mary Tyler Moore”.

“Mary Tyler Moore” was always a hit when the star decided to pursue other interests, and so it ended in season seven with a hilarious finale in which all the principals were fired except for the stammering Baxter.

Asner immediately turned to “Lou Grant,” his character moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to become editor-in-chief of The Tribune, a crusader journal under the steady hands of publisher Margaret Pynchon, memorable played by Nancy. Trader.

Asner won three Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in “Mary Tyler Moore” and two Best Actor Awards in “Lou Grant”. He also won Emmys for his roles in the miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” (1975-1976) and “Roots” (1976-1977).

He had over 300 acting credits and remained active throughout his 70s and 80s in a variety of film and television roles. In 2003, he played Santa Claus in Will Ferrell’s hit movie “Elf”. He was the father of John Goodman in the 2004 CBS short-lived comedy “Center of the Universe” and the voice of the aged hero in Pixar’s 2009 hit release, “Up.” More recently, he appeared in television series such as “Pardonner-moi” and “Dead to Me”.

Nonetheless, Asner told The Associated Press in 2009 that it was hard to find interesting roles.

“I never have enough work,” he said. “This is the story of my career. There is simply nothing to refuse, let me put it this way. “

“I would say most people are probably in the same boat, the elderly, and that’s a shame,” he said.

As chairman of the Screen Actors Guild, liberal Asner was embroiled in political controversy in 1982 when he spoke out against US involvement in repressive governments in Latin America. “Lou Grant” was canceled in the ensuing fury and he did not run for a third SAG term in 1985.

Asner discussed his politicization in an interview in 2002, noting that he started his career during the McCarthy era and had been afraid for years to speak out for fear of being blacklisted.

Then he saw a film by a nun illustrating the cruelties inflicted by the Salvadoran government on the citizens of this country.

“I came out to complain about our country’s constant arming and strengthening of the army in El Salvador, which oppressed its people,” he said.

Former SAG chairman Charlton Heston and others accused him of making anti-American statements and abusing his position as leader of their actor union.

“We even had bomb threats back then. I had armed guards, ”Asner recalls.

The actor blamed the controversy for ending the five-year ‘Lou Grant’ series, although CBS insisted the drop in ratings was the reason the show was canceled. .

While the show had its light moments, its scripts addressed a variety of darker social issues that most shows didn’t touch on at the time, including alcoholism and homelessness. Asner remained politically active for the rest of his life and in 2017 published the book “The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs”.

Asner, born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1929, almost became a journalist in real life. He studied journalism at the University of Chicago until a professor told him there was little money to be made in the profession.

He quickly moved on to drama, making his martyrdom debut Thomas Becket in a campus production of TS Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral”.

He eventually dropped out of school, working as a taxi driver and other jobs before enlisting in 1951. He served in the Army Signal Corps in France.

Returning to Chicago after his military service, he appeared at the Playwrights Theater Club and Second City, the famous satire troupe that launched the careers of dozens of great comedians.

Later, in New York City, he joined the longtime “The Threepenny Opera” and appeared alongside Jack Lemmon in “Face of a Hero”.

Arriving in Hollywood in 1961 for an episode of “Naked City” on television, Asner decided to stay and appeared in numerous movies and television shows, including the film “El Dorado”, opposite John Wayne; and the Elvis Presley “Kid Galahad” and “Change of Habit” vehicles. He was a regular on the 1960s political drama series “Slattery’s People”.

He was married twice, to Nancy Lou Sykes and Cindy Gilmore, and had four children, Matthew, Liza, Kate and Charles.


The late Associated Press editor Bob Thomas contributed biographical information for this report.


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