Asner in 1985, age 56
November 15, 1929
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Education||Wyandotte High School|
|Alma mater||University of Chicago|
|Occupation||Actor, political activist, voice actor|
|Home town||Chicago, Illinois|
|Political party||Democratic Party|
Nancy Sykes (1959–1988, divorced)
Cindy Gilmore (1998– present, separated 2007)
Edward "Ed" Asner (born November 15, 1929) is an American film, television, and stage actor, voice actor, and a former president of the Screen Actors Guild. He is primarily known for his role as Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same leading character in both a comedy and a drama. He is also known for portraying Santa Claus in the 2003 comedy Elf.
In 2009, he starred as the voice of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's animated film Up, and made a guest appearance on CSI: NY in the episode "Yahrseit". In early 2011, Asner returned to television as butcher Hank Greziak in Working Class, the first original sitcom on cable channel CMT. He starred in the Canadian television series Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, on CBC Television and has appeared in the 2013 television series The Glades, in the episode "Killer Barbecue".
- Early life and education 1
- Career 2
- Political views 3.1
- Charity work 3.2
- September 11 attacks 3.3
- Opposition to SAG/AFTRA merger 3.4
- Personal life 4
- References 5
- External links 6
Early life and education
Asner was born on November 15, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri. His Jewish Russian-born parents, Lizzie (née Seliger, 1885 – January 16, 1967), a housewife; and David Morris Asner (1877 – May 19, 1957) ran a second-hand shop. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family.
Following his military service, Asner joined the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, but left for New York City 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 City, Asner played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in the Off-Broadway revival of Threepenny Opera, and began to make inroads as a television actor. There were two standout performances on television. The first was as Detective Sgt. Thomas Siroleo in the 1963 episode The Outer Limits titled "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" and as the reprehensible Ex-Premiere Brynov in the 1965 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "The Exile".
Before he landed his role with Mary Tyler Moore, Asner guest-starred in such television series as the syndicated crime drama Decoy, starring Beverly Garland, and the NBC western series The Outlaws. On the TV series, Route 66 in 1962 (Welcome to the Wedding) as Custody Officer Lincoln Peers. He was also cast on Jack Lord's ABC drama series Stoney Burke and in the series finale of CBS's The Reporter, starring Harry Guardino. He also appeared on Mr. Novak, Mission: Impossible, and The Invaders. Asner also played a minor character in children's television show W.I.T.C.H. (Napoleon- Cornelia's younger sister's cat).
Asner is best known for his character Lou Grant, who was first introduced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. In 1977, after the series, Asner's character was given his own show, Lou Grant (1977–82). In contrast to the Mary Tyler Moore show, a thirty-minute comedy, the Lou Grant show was an hour-long award-winning drama about journalism. (For his role as Grant, Asner is one of only two actors to win an Emmy Award for a sitcom and a drama for the same role. The second being Uzo Aduba) Other television series starring Asner in regular roles include Thunder Alley, The Bronx Zoo, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He also portrayed art smuggler August March in an episode of the original Hawaii Five-O (1975) and reprised the role in the Hawaii Five-0 (2012) remake.
Asner was acclaimed for his role in the ABC miniseries Roots, as Captain Davies, the morally conflicted captain of the Lord Ligonier, the slave ship that brought Kunta Kinte to America. That role earned Asner an Emmy Award, as did the similarly dark role of Axel Jordache in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). In contrast, he played a former Pontiff in the lead role of Papa Giovanni: Ioannes XXIII (Pope John XXIII 2002), an Italian television film for RAI.
Asner has also had an extensive L.A. Classic Theatre Works' radio theatre production of Sinclair Lewis's novel "Babbitt." He also provided the voices for Joshua on Joshua and the Battle of Jericho (1986) for Hanna-Barbera, J. Jonah Jameson on the 1990s animated television series Spider-Man (1994–98); Hoggish Greedly on Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990–95); Hudson on Gargoyles (1994–96); 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 (1992–94); Cosgrove on Freakazoid!; Ed Wuncler on The Boondocks (2005–14); and Granny Goodness in various DC Comics animated series. Asner also provided the voice of famed American orator Edward Everett in the 2015 documentary film The Gettysburg Address.
Asner provided the voice of Carl Fredricksen in the Academy Award-winning Pixar film Up (2009). 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."
He has appeared in a recurring segment, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, entitled "Does This Impress Ed Asner?"
He was cast in a Country Music Television comedy pilot, Regular Joe.
In 2001, Asner was the recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
Asner has won more Emmy Awards for performing than any other male actor (seven, including five for the role of Lou Grant). In 1996, 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; a documentary on the 1974 DeFeo murders in Amityville, New York. Asner served 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 has 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 small but pivotal role as billionaire Warren Buffett in HBO's 2011 economy drama Too Big to Fail.
Asner has also provided voice-over narration for many documentaries and films of social activism, including Tiger by the Tail, a documentary film detailing the efforts of the Campaign to Keep GM Van Nuys Open and the chair of the organization, Eric Mann, to keep General Motors' Van Nuys Assembly plant running.
Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, in which capacity during the 1980s he opposed US policy in Central America, working closely with the Alliance for Survival. 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 and the movement to establish single-payer health care in California, California One Care, for which he created a television advertisement. He endorsed Barack Obama during the United States presidential election, 2008.
The sudden cancellation of Lou Grant in 1982 was the subject of much controversy. The show had high ratings—the level of which should have justified its ongoing presence in primetime (it was in the ACNielsen top ten throughout its final month on the air). However, the CBS television network declined to renew it. It has been Asner's consistent position that his political views, as well as the publicity surrounding, were the actual root causes for the show's cancellation.
Ed Asner endorsed Democratic Candidate Marcy Winograd in the 2011 California 36th Congressional district special election.
In 2012, Asner came under fire from conservatives for narrating an animation promotional video for the California Federation of Teachers, Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale.
Asner is a member of the Defenders of Wildlife. Asner also sits on the advisory board for Exceptional Minds, a non-profit school and a computer animation studio for young adults on the autism spectrum.
Asner is also a member of the Honorary Board of Directors for the homeless respite service center Fresh Start WC in Walnut Creek, California.
September 11 attacks
Asner 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 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. In 2011, Asner hosted the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth documentary on the collapse of 7 World Trade Center that concludes that the building was taken down by controlled demolition.
Opposition to SAG/AFTRA merger
On March 30, 2012 the
- Ed Asner at AllMovie
- Ed Asner at the Internet Broadway Database
- Ed Asner at the Internet Movie Database
- Ed Asner Talks about his Early Career, September 2012
- Ed Asner interview video at the Archive of American Television
- Audio interview of Ed Asner at the Wayback Machine (archived August 24, 2006) by Stephanie Miller on The Stephanie Miller Show about a September 11 Conspiracy Theory.
- Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders Official Website
- Interview at Talk Humor
- Red Carpet interview with Ed Asner and Mark Rydell at Burbank International Film Festival, 2011 with hosts Brett Walkow and Mary Jo Gruber of Actors Reporter
- 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 Video on YouTube.
- . Find a Grave.
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- Asner interview, Archive of American Television, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
- Ed Asner Stars in Grace on Broadway - Vulture.com.
- Edward Asner - 2001 Life Achievement Recipient - Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Wayback Machine (archived March 1, 2012)
- Hall of Fame Archives: Inductees - Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at the Wayback Machine (archived January 11, 2014)
- . The Hollywood Reporter.
- Former SAG President Edward Asner speaks out against the SAG-AFTRA merger on YouTube
- mickeynews.com at the 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."
On March 12, 2013, while performing in FDR at the Marquette Pavilion in Gary, Indiana, Asner began having trouble with his lines, and appeared to be disoriented, he was reportedly walked off stage by emergency medical personnel about 15 minutes into the performance. He was subsequently hospitalized in a Chicago-area hospital for exhaustion, and was released the following day. Commenting on his Twitter page Asner said, "Reports of my imminent demise are greatly exaggerated, They tell me I am suffering from exhaustion. Thanks for the good wishes!" He was expected to return to his home in Los Angeles, and postponed any further shows.
Engaged to producer Cindy Gilmore in 1991, he married her on August 2, 1998. Gilmore filed for divorce on November 7, 2007. Model and television personality Jules Asner is his former daughter-in-law. Gavin Newsom, his ex-nephew-in-law, was a former mayor of San Francisco and is the current Lieutenant Governor of California.
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 and a grandparent of a child with autism and is deeply involved with the autism nonprofit Autism Speaks. He also serves on the advisory board of a suburban Chicago firm that employs persons with autistic spectrum disorders to test and program software.
The lawsuit is currently working its way through the court system.