Ed Asner the actor who portrayed Lou Grant Carl from Up dead at 91

Dead at 91 is Ed Asner, Emmy-Winning Actor

Ed Asner, the seven-time Primetime Emmy-winning actor, best known for his role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died at 91.

A family member of Ed Asner confirmed his death on his Twitter account on Sunday, August 29, 2021.

“We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully. Words cannot express our sadness with a kiss on your head- Goodnight, Dad. We love you,” the tweet read.

Asner, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild who enjoyed a career of more than 60 years, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 15, 1929. Asner grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and attended Wyandotte High School, followed by the University of Chicago. 

He also worked on the assembly line at General Motors and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps before becoming an actor. Asner went on to join the Chicago Theater Company and make guest appearances with the Compass Players and the coveted Second City. After moving to New York City, he eventually scored his first Broadway gig. 

Created by Allan Burns and James L. Brooks, The Mary Tyler Moore Show followed protagonist Mary Tyler Moore as an associate producer on a fictional Minnesota TV station. Asner portrayed Moore’s boss, Lou Grant. The all-star cast featured Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod, Betty White, and Cloris Leachman. 

After seven seasons and 29 Primetime Emmys, The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended in 1977. The series produced Phyllis’s spin-offs, starring Leachman, Rhoda, starring Harper, and Lou Grant, starring Asner. 

During his tenure with Mary Tyler Moore, Asner won an Emmy Award for portraying a slave ship captain in Alex Haley’s Roots miniseries

He went on to star in Lou Grant from 1977 until 1982. After the series’ end, Ed Asner took on a recurring role in the sitcom Off the Rack, the miniseries Tender Is the Night, and the 1988 NBC drama The Bronx Zoo, which aired for only one season. Asner went on to snag appearances on hit shows like Mad About You and a role in the Oscar-winning film JFK. 

Working in animation was another successful avenue for Asner, as he voiced characters on the likes of AnimaniacsFish PoliceGargoylesCaptain Planet and the PlaneteersThe SimpsonsRecessThe Cleveland ShowSpongebob Square PantsAmerican DadThe Magic School Bus, The Wild Thornberrys, and Max Steele. Asner also played the main character in Disney Pixar’s 2009 animated hit, Up

The Life and Tragic Ending of Ed Asner

The latter half of Asner’s career added Touched by an Angel, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The PracticeThe X-FilesDharma & Greg, ER, The Good Wife, and more to his long resume. Asner scored another memorable role as Santa Claus in the cult classic holiday comedy Elf and reprised his role as a diamond smuggler in the 2012 reboot of Hawaii Five-0a character Asner first portrayed 37 years earlier.

In 2017, Ed Asner and the Mary Tyler Moore cast mourned the death of Moore, who was diagnosed with diabetes decades earlier and died from cardiopulmonary arrest while fighting pneumonia.

“Her diabetes was certainly very evident…but what a prodigiously hard worker,” Asner told ET at the time of Moore’s dedication to her craft. “Instead of lunch, she had a dance class. She showed up large on the stage and made deep footprints whenever she walked.” Asner had similarly kind words for Harper following her brain cancer diagnosis. 

Like Moore and Harper, Asner enjoyed making audiences laugh. Aside from being briefly hospitalized for exhaustion in 2013, Asner appeared in good health and worked until the end of his life.

In one of his final interviews, Asner showed no signs of retiring. “I’m doing it to stay alive,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in April 2019 while promoting his run in the travelling play The Soap Myth. “The creative aspect keeps me younger. And to leave a legacy of some modest proportion to my kids.”

The twice-divorced father of four was also a longtime autism advocate after his son was diagnosed with the disease, followed by three grandchildren. Asner was married to his first wife, Nancy Sykes, from 1959 until 1988. As a couple, they welcomed three children to the family: Kate, Matthew, and Liza. Not long after the divorce, Asner had a second son, Charles, with his ex-girlfriend, Carol Jean Vogelman. 

In 1998, after a seven-year engagement, Asner married producer Cindy Gilmore. The couple legally separated in 2007 and divorced in 2015.

Despite the shift in his personal life, Asner continued to work regularly. At the tail end of his career, Asner landed guest spots on the Netflix comedies Grace & Frankie, Dead to Me, and more than a dozen other acting roles.