Edward Asner (born November 15, 1929), born Eddie Asner[1] 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.

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.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.[citation needed]

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 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.)[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 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.

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 is 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.




Animation and video games


  1. 1.0 1.1 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
  2. 2.0 2.1 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
  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". TVGuide.com. 
  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. 
  14. http://www.theoilfactor.com/
  15. 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."
  16. 4/26: 'Lou Grant' star Ed Asner brings 'FDR' to Arizona, "Actually, he's my wife's nephew."
  17. Amazon.com: The Cops are Robbers: Edward Asner; James Keach: Movies & TV

External links

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  3. REDIRECT Template:GoldenGlobeBestActorTVDrama 1969–1989

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