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Edward Asner (November 15, 1929 - August 29, 2021), born Eddie Asner[1] and commonly known as Ed Asner, was 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. In 2009, he provided the voice of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's award-winning animated film, Up.

Early life

Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri,[2] but was raised across the river in Kansas City, Kansas. His Russian-born parents, Lizzie (née Seliger), a housewife, and Morris David Asner,[3] ran a second-hand shop.[4] He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family.[5] Asner attended Wyandotte High School and the University of Chicago. He served with the U. No 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.


Asner playing his most famous role, as Lou Grant in Mary Tyler Moore.

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."[6]

Although popularly known as Ed Asner, professionally he prefers the name Edward Asner.

He has appeared in a recurring segment, on Jay Leno's The Tonight Show, entitled "Does This Impress Ed Asner?"

He was recently cast in a Country Music Television comedy pilot, Regular Joe.[7]

In 2001, Asner was the recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.[8]

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.[9]

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.Also in 2010, Asner played the title role in FDR, a stage production about the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he subsequently continued to tour the play throughout the country. In January 2011, Asner took a supporting role on CMT's first original sitcom Working Class. He made an appearance in the independent comedy feature Not Another B Movie, and had a role as billionaire Warren Buffett in HBO's economic drama Too Big to Fail (2011).[citation needed]

Asner also provided voice-over narration for many documentaries and films about social activism, including Tiger by the Tail, a documentary film detailing the efforts of Eric Mann and the Campaign to keep General Motors' Van Nuys assembly plantrunning. He also recorded for a public radio show and podcast, Playing On Air, appearing in Warren Leight's The Final Interrogation of Ceaucescu's Dogwith Jesse Eisenberg, and Mike Reiss's New York Story. Asner was the voice-over narrator for the 2016 documentary Behind the Fear: The Hidden Story of HIV, directed by Nicole Zwiren, a controversial study on the AIDS debate.

A 2014 documentary titled My Friend Ed, directed by Sharon Baker, focused on the actor's life and career. It won Best Short Documentary at the New York City Independent Film Festival.

In 2018, Asner was cast in the Netflix dark comedy, Dead to Me, which premiered on May 3, 2019. The series also stars Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, and James Marsden. Also in 2018, Asner portrayed Johnny Lawrence's step-father, Sid Weinberg, in a guest role on the Cobra Kaiseries.

Beginning in 2016, Asner took on the role of Holocaust survivor Milton Salesman in Jeff Cohen's acclaimed play The Soap Myth in a reading at Lincoln Center's Bruno Walter Theatre in New York City. He subsequently toured for the next three years in "concert readings" of the play in more than a dozen cities across the United States. In 2019, PBS flagship station WNET filmed the concert reading at New York's Center for Jewish History for their All Arts channel. The performance, which is available for free, world-wide live-streaming, co-stars Tovah Feldshuh, Ned Eisenberg, and Liba Vaynberg.

Political views

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.[10] He was also 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.)[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] Asner confirmed his support for the statement in 2009.[13] Asner also narrated the documentary film The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror.[14]

Asner was 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 served 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.

Personal life

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 was a parent of a child with autism.[15]

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,[16] was elected mayor of San Francisco in 2003. Asner filed for divorce in 2015.


Asner died of natural causes at his home in the Tarzana neighborhood on August 29, 2021, at the age of 91 in Los Angeles, California.[1]



  • 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)[17]
  • 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)
2009 Dug's Special Mission Carl Fredricksen (voice) Video short; uncredited
2010 Not Another B Movie Angry Investor
2010 Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Granny Goodness(voice) Direct-to-video
2011 All-Star Superman Perry White(voice) Direct-to-video
2011 Witness Insecurity Maxwell
2011 Let Go Artie Satz
2011 Sheeba Grandfather
2012 Foodfight! Leonard (voice)
2012 Elephant Sighs Leo
2012 Home Alone: The Holiday Heist Mr. Carson
2013 Axel: The Biggest Little Hero Bonta / Narrator (voices)
2013 I Know That Voice Himself
2014 Audrey Walt
2014 The Games Maker Nicholas
2015 I Thought I Told You to Shut Up!! Himself Short film
2015 The Nutcracker Sweet Owl (voice)
2016 Boonville Redemption Judge Mordecai Price
2017 The Gliksmans Moshe
2017 Saving Christmas Rick Direct-to-video
2017 Joe's War Harry Direct-to-video
2017 CarGo Art (voice)
2018 The Parting Glass Tommy
2019 The Garden Left Behind Dr. Cleary
2019 Faith, Hope & Love Harry Karetas
2020 M.O.M.: Mothers of Monsters Dr. Harry Arden Cameo
2021 Senior Entourage Ed
TBA Awaken Completed
TBA The Gettysburg Address Edward Everett(voice) Post-production


  • 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 XXIIIAngelo 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)
2009 WordGirl Kid Potato (voice) Episode: "Nocan the Contrarian/Meat My Dad"
2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Commandant Von Reichenstein Episode: "Wowschwitz"
2010–2019 American Dad! Various voices 4 episodes
2010–2011 The Cleveland Show Various characters 5 episodes
2011 Young Justice Kent Nelson(voice) Episode: "Denial"
2011 Working Class Hank Greziak 6 episodes
2011–2017 Michael: Every Day Dr. Wasserman 7 episodes
2011 Too Big to Fail Warren Buffett TV movie
2011 Royal Pains Ted Roth 2 episodes
2012 The Middle Ben Episode: "The Paper Route"
2012 Hot in Cleveland Jameson Lyons Episode: "Rubber Ball"
2012 Hawaii Five-0 August March 2 episodes
2012 Home Alone: The Holiday Heist Mr. Carson TV Movie
2012 Regular Show Santa Claus (voice) Episode: "The Christmas Special"
2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Coach Martin Schultz Episode: "Monster's Legacy"
2013 Maron Marc's Dad Unaired pilot
2013 The Glades Dr. Ted Hardy 3 episodes
2013 The Crazy Ones Mr. Finger Episode: "The Stan Wood Account"
2013 Christmas on the Bayou Papa Noel TV movie
2014 Men at Work Bob Episode: "Gigo-Milo"
2014 Mom Jack Bumgartner Episode: "Kimchi and a Monkey Playing Harmonica"
2014 Chasing Life Artie Carver Episode: "Locks of Love"
2014 Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas Santa Claus (voice) Television special
2015 The Good Wife Guy Redmayne 2 episodes
2015 Criminal Minds Roy Brooks Episode: "A Place at the Table"
2015–2018 Forgive Me Bishop 6 episodes
2015 Murdoch Mysteries Kris Kringle Episode: "A Merry Murdoch Christmas"
2015 All of My Heart Vern TV movie
2016 SpongeBob SquarePants Angry Old Timer (voice) Episode: "Whirly Brains"
2017 Bones Rufus Tucker Episode: "The New Tricks in the Old Dogs"
2017 A StoryBots Christmas Santa Television special
2017 All of My Heart: Inn Love Vern TV movie
2017 Titanic: Sinking the Myths Wilhelm Müller TV Documentary
2018, 2021 Cobra Kai Sid Weinberg 3 episodes
2018 MacGyver Saul Episode: "Skyscraper - Power"
2018 All of My Heart: The Wedding Vern TV movie
2019–2021 Grace and Frankie Howard Jay 2 episodes
2019 Dead to Me Abe Rifkin 5 episodes
2019 Doom Patrol Hospital Patient Episode: "Flex Patrol"
2020 Modern Family Herschel Braverman Episode: "Dead On Arrival"
2020 Blue Bloods Chuck Kennedy Episode: "Vested Interests"
2020 Ballmastrz: 9009 Rupert T. Digzfield IV (voice) Episode: "Onward, True Blue Friends Win Eternal; Paladin of the Heavens, Start Today!"
2020 Briarpatch James Staghorne Sr. 3 episodes
2020 Royalties Papa / Hal Episode: "Break It In"
2020–2021 Central Park Ambrose (voice) 2 episodes
2020 Teen Titans Go! Mike Cosgrove (voice) Episode: "Huggbees!"
2021 Dug Days Carl Fredricksen (voice) Main role; posthumous release

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
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vrook Lamar
2004 X-Men Legends Healer
2004 Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords Vrook Lamar
2009 Up Carl Fredricksen
2012 Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure Carl Fredricksen


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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
  3. Edward Asner Biography (1929-)
  4. Asner interview, Archive of American Television, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
  5. Zager, Norma (2005-08-05). "Outspoken Asner's Activism Is No Act". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  6. "Keith Cohen review of "Up"". Entertainment Spectrum. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  7. "Ed Asner Signs On to CMT Comedy Pilot". 
  8. Edward Asner - 2001 Life Achievement Recipient | Screen Actors Guild Awards
  9. Hall of Fame Archives: Inductees | Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
  10. 10.0 10.1 Michael B. Kassel (29 November 2007). "Asner, Ed". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  11. Asner, Ed (26 April 2004). "A letter to the Peace and Justice movement from Ed Asner". 911 Visibility Project. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  12. "Ed Asner's message to the 9/11 truth movement". 
  13. Rossmeier, Vincent (September 11, 2009). "Would you still sign the 9/11 Truth petition?". Salon. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  15., 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."
  16. 4/26: 'Lou Grant' star Ed Asner brings 'FDR' to Arizona, "Actually, he's my wife's nephew."
  17. The Cops are Robbers: Edward Asner; James Keach: Movies & TV

External links

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  1. REDIRECT Template:EmmyAward DramaLeadActor 1976–2000
  2. REDIRECT Template:GoldenGlobeSupportingActorTV 1970–1989
  3. REDIRECT Template:GoldenGlobeBestActorTVDrama 1969–1989

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