Edward Asner (born November 15, 1929), born Eddie Asner and commonly known as Ed Asner, is an American film, television, stage, and voice actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, primarily known for his role as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series, Lou Grant. More recently, he provided the voice of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's award-winning animated film, Up.
Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but was raised across the river in Kansas City, Kansas. His Russian-born parents, Lizzie (née Seliger), a housewife, and Morris David Asner, ran a second-hand shop. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. Asner attended Wyandotte High School and the University of Chicago. He served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and appeared in plays that toured Army camps in Europe.
Following his military service, Asner joined the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, but left for New York before members of that company regrouped as the Compass Players in the mid-1950s. He later made guest appearances with the successor to Compass, The Second City, and is considered part of The Second City extended family. In New York, Asner played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in the acclaimed Broadway revival of Threepenny Opera, and began to make inroads as a television actor.
Before he landed his role with Mary Tyler Moore, Asner guest-starred in such television series as NBC's The Outlaws (1962), in the series finale of CBS's The Reporter, Mission: Impossible and The Invaders.
Asner is best best known for his character Lou Grant, who was first introduced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. In 1977, after the end of the Mary Tyler Moore show, Asner's character was given his own show, Lou Grant, which ran from 1977-1982. In contrast to the Mary Tyler Moore show, which was a thirty minute comedy, the Lou Grant show was an hour long award-winning drama about journalism. (For his role as Grant, Asner is the only actor to win the Emmy award for a sitcom and a drama for the same role.) Other TV series starring Asner in regular roles include Thunder Alley, The Bronx Zoo, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Asner was acclaimed for his role in the miniseries Roots, as Captain Davies, the man who kidnapped Kunta Kinte and sold him into slavery, a role that earned Asner an Emmy Award, and for a similarly dark role as Axel Jordache in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man. In contrast, he played Pope John XXIII in Papa Giovanni: Ioannes XXIII, an Italian miniseries for RAI.
Asner has also had an extensive voice acting career. He provided the voices for J. Jonah Jameson on the 1990s animated television series Spider-Man, Hudson on Gargoyles, Jabba the Hutt on the radio version of Star Wars, Master Vrook from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, Roland Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series, Cosgrove on Freakazoid!, Ed Wuncler on The Boondocks, and Granny Goodness in various DC Comics animated series. Asner has also provided voice-over narration for many documentaries and films of social activism.
More recently, Asner provided the voice of Carl Fredricksen in the 2009 Pixar film Up. He received great critical praise for the role, with one critic going so far as to suggest "They should create a new category for this year's Academy Award for Best Vocal Acting in an Animated Film and name Asner as the first recipient."
Although popularly known as Ed Asner, professionally he prefers the name Edward Asner.
Asner has won more Emmy Awards for performing than any other male actor (eight, including five for the role of Lou Grant). In 2003, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.
In July 2010, Asner completed recording sessions for Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders which is a forthcoming documentary on the 1974 DeFeo murders in Amityville, New York. Asner serves as the narrator for the film, which covers a forensic analysis of the murders, the trial in which 23-year old DeFeo son Ronald DeFeo Jr., was convicted of the killings, and the subsequent "haunting" story which is revealed to be a hoax.
A prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, in which capacity during the 1980s he opposed US policy in Central America. He played a prominent role in the 1980 SAG strike. He has also been active in a variety of other causes, such as the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The cancellation of Lou Grant in 1982 was the subject of much controversy. The show supposedly had ratings which would have justified its ongoing presence in primetime (it was in the ACNielsen top ten throughout its final month on the air), but the network declined to renew it. Asner has consistently contended that the publicity surrounding his political views was the real cause for the cancellation. (Howard Hesseman, who had participated with Asner in promoting a controversial medical aid for El Salvador program, found his popular show WKRP in Cincinnati canceled by CBS the same day.)
Asner served as the spokesman for 2004 Racism Watch. In April 2004, he wrote an open letter to "peace and justice leaders" encouraging them to demand "full 9-11 truth" through the organization 9-11 Visibility Project. He also signed a statement released by the organization 9/11 Truth in 2004 that calls for a new investigation into the September 11 attacks. A brief summary of the reasons for his position appears in a video available on YouTube. Asner confirmed his support for the statement in 2009. Asner also narrated the documentary film The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror.
Asner is a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a free speech organization that is dedicated to protecting comic book creators and retailers from prosecutions based on content. He serves as an advisor to the Rosenberg Fund for Children, an organization founded by the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg which provides benefits for the children of political activists, and as a board member for the wildlife conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife.
Asner was married to Nancy Sykes from 1959 until 1988. Together they have three children: twins Matthew and Liza, and Kate. In 1987, he had a son named Charles with Carol Jean Vogelman. Asner is a parent of a child with autism.
Engaged to producer Cindy Gilmore in 1991, they married on 2 August 1998. Gilmore filed for divorce on November 7, 2007. Model and television personality Jules Asner is his former daughter-in-law. Gavin Newsom, his nephew-in-law, was elected mayor of San Francisco in 2003.
- The Slender Thread - Det. Judd Ridley (1965)
- El Dorado - Bart Jason (1967)
- Change of Habit - Police Officer (1969)
- The Girl Most Likely to... - Det. Ralph Varone (1973)
- Hey, I'm Alive – Ralph Flores (1975)
- Gus - Hank Cooper (1976)
- Fort Apache, The Bronx - Captain Dennis Connolly (1981)
- Americas in Transition (1981) (narrator)
- Moon over Parador (1988) (Himself)
- The Cops Are Robbers - (1990)
- JFK - Guy Banister, CIA/FBI operative (1991)
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1995) (Bruno)
- Hard Rain - Uncle Charlie (1998)
- The Bachelor - Sid Gluckman (1999)
- The Animal - Chief Wilson (2001)
- Elf - Santa Claus (2003)
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure - Uncle Nick (2003)
- Happily Even After - Judge Dreyfus (uncredited) (2004)
- Out of the Woods - Jack (2005)
- Gigantic - (2008)
- Christmas Is Here Again - Krad (2008)
- Generation Gap - Colonel Bart Cahill (2008)
- Channels (2008 film) - Ed Packard
- Up - Carl Fredricksen (2009)
- Stride - Charlie Arnesson (2009)
- The Raft - Seymour Popper (2009)
- Target: The Corruptors! - Tyler in the episode, The Golden Carpet, November 24, 1961
- The Eleventh Hour - Max Brenson in the episode My Name is Judith, I'm Lost, You See (1963)
- The Outer Limits - Sgt. Siroleo in the episode It Crawled Out of the Woodwork, 1963
- Gunsmoke - Sergeant Wilks in the episode Hung High, 1964
- The Wild Wild West - Furman Crotty in the episode The Night of the Amnesiac, 1969
- Mission: Impossible - George Simpson in the episode The Mind of Stefan Miklos, 1969
- Daughter of the Mind – Wiener in the ABC Movie of the Week, December 1969
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Lou Grant (1970–1977)
- The Girl Most Likely to... - Det. Ralph Varone (1973)
- Rhoda - Lou Grant (1974)
- Hawaii Five-O - as August March in the episode Wooden Model of a Rat, (1975)
- Cher - Himself (1975)
- Rich Man, Poor Man - Axel Jordache (1976)
- Roots - Capt. Thomas Davies (1977)
- Lou Grant - Lou Grant (1977–1982)
- The Gathering - Adam Thornton (1977)
- Off the Rack - Sam Waltman (1985)
- Kate's Secret - Dr. Resnick (1986)
- The Christmas Star - Horace McNickle (1986)
- The Bronx Zoo - Principal Joe Danzig (1987)
- Happy Castle - The Well of What (1988)
- Gypsy - Pop (1993)
- Thunder Alley - Gil Jones (1994)
- The X-Files - Maurice in the episode How the Ghosts Stole Christmas, December 13, 1998
- Papa Giovanni: Ioannes XXIII – Angelo Roncalli (2002)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm- Mr. Wiener (2001)
- ER - a con artist (2003)
- The Christmas Card – Luke (2006)
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Wilson White (2006–2007)
- CSI:NY - Klaus Braun (alias Abraham Klein) in the episode Yahrzeit, 2009)
Animation and video games
- Gargoyles - Hudson
- Gargoyles the Movie: The Heroes Awaken - Hudson
- Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles - Hudson
- Superman: The Animated Series - Granny Goodness
- Justice League Unlimited - Hephaestus
- Hercules - Mentor
- Down in the Dumps (1963 TV Movie) - Tanner Banion, the bumbling man-servant
- Animaniacs - Vern
- Bonkers - Grumps
- Bruno the Kid - Engineer
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command - Fixer
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers - Hoggish Greedly
- Center of the Universe - Art Barnett
- Dinosaurs - Evil Georgie
- Duck Dodgers - Guard Captain
- Duckman - Mort Sidelman
- Fish Police - Chief Abalone
- The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible - Joshua
- Sonic the Hedgehog - Cat
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - Jedi Master Vrook Lamar
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords - Jedi Master Vrook Lamar
- Freakazoid! - Sgt. Mike Cosgrove
- The Boondocks - Ed Wuncler Sr.
- Max Steel - Chuck Marshak
- X-Men Legends - Healer
- Batman: The Animated Series - Roland Daggett
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series - J. Jonah Jameson
- W.I.T.C.H. - Napoleon the Cat
- Disney's Recess - Thadeus T. Third V
- Up - Carl Fredricksen
- Up - Carl Fredricksen - video game
- Christmas is Here Again - Krad
- Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night - Scalawag
- The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest - Sentries, Von Romme
- The New Adventures of Captain Planet - Hoggish Greedly
- The Cleveland Show - The Daily Splash Editor
- The Spectacular Spider-Man - Uncle Ben
- The Simpsons, "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?" - Lifeways Editor
- Family Guy - Steve Bellows
- Grim & Evil - Mr. Voorhees
- Johnny Bravo - Dr. Miller
- Jumanji - Judge
- King of the Hill, "Yankee Hankee" - Irwin Linker
- Olive, the Other Reindeer - Santa Claus
- Our Friend, Martin - Mr. Harris
- Teamo Supremo - Mr. Large
- The Angry Beavers - Risk Keeper
- Life with Louie - Mr. Applegate
- The Magic School Bus - General
- The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You - Charlie
- The Wild Thornberrys - Frank Hunter
- Zorro - Additional Voices
- Happily Ever After - Scowl the Owl
- WordGirl - Kid Potato
- City Trams - Preston
- 3x3 Eyes - Grandpa Ayanokoji
- The Sissy Duckling - Elmer's Father
- A Christmas Carol - Marley
- O Christmas Tree - Nutcracker
- Snowden's Christmas - Big Daddy
- The Story of Santa Claus - Santa Claus
- Dug's Special Mission - Carl Fredricksen (uncredited)
- Gahan Wilson's The Kid - Dead Cat
- Lolo's Cafe - Mr. Atkins
- Asner clearly explains his birth certificate name at 0:0:18 of his Archive of American Television interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g97HNjwfR7k
- Asner clearly explains his birthplace at 0:0:45 of his Archive of American Television interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g97HNjwfR7k
- Edward Asner Biography (1929-)
- Asner interview, Archive of American Television, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
- Zager, Norma (2005-08-05). "Outspoken Asner's Activism Is No Act". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- "Keith Cohen review of "Up"". Entertainment Spectrum. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- "Ed Asner Signs On to CMT Comedy Pilot". TVGuide.com.
- Edward Asner - 2001 Life Achievement Recipient | Screen Actors Guild Awards
- Hall of Fame Archives: Inductees | Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
- Michael B. Kassel (29 November 2007). "Asner, Ed". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Asner, Ed (26 April 2004). "A letter to the Peace and Justice movement from Ed Asner". 911 Visibility Project. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
- "Ed Asner's message to the 9/11 truth movement".
- Rossmeier, Vincent (September 11, 2009). "Would you still sign the 9/11 Truth petition?". Salon. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
- mickeynews.com, writing "James Denton ... applauded hosts of the organization's autism awareness public service announcements, including celebrity parents of children with autism, Ed Asner, Gary Cole, Joe Mantegna and John Schneider."
- 4/26: 'Lou Grant' star Ed Asner brings 'FDR' to Arizona, "Actually, he's my wife's nephew."
- Amazon.com: The Cops are Robbers: Edward Asner; James Keach: Movies & TV
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- Audio interview of Ed Asner by Stephanie Miller on The Stephanie Miller Show about a September 11 Conspiracy Theory.
- VIDEO: Ed Asner speaks at peace rally at Arlington West[dead link] May 25, 2008
- 2009 interview with Bullz-Eye.com
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