Ed Asner, Legendary Actor, Dead at 91

Legendary actor Ed Asner passed away on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 29 at the age of 91. His family told Deadline that Asner was surrounded by loved ones and went peacefully. Fans of the Hollywood icon are mourning his death now on social media.

Asner has a long list of credits, and it's hard to narrow down to the most notable ones. He played Lou Grant throughout the 1970s and 1980s when the character jumped from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to his own spinoff, Lou Grant. He was a seven-time Emmy Award winner and was even the president of the Screen Actors Guild for a while, giving him immense respect among his fellow performers. Asner had some iconic movie roles throughout his career as well — from Bart Jason in El Dorado in 1966 to Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's Up in 2009.

(Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic/Getty Images, Getty)

Asner was born and raised in Kansas City to Jewish immigrant parents, practicing Orthodox Judaism in his childhood. He attended the University of Chicago and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, during which time he began appearing in plays that toured army camps in Europe.

Asner continued acting in stage plays when he got out of the army, moving from Chicago to New York City in the 1950s. He worked his way onto Broadway and performed in early improv comedy groups as well. He made his TV debut in 1957 on Studio One.

Asner made several other appearances on TV throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, but The Mary Tyler Moore Show was his undisputed big break. Some of his credits during that time included the original Mission: Impossible, W.I.T.C.H. and The Outer Limits, among others. He first portrayed Lou Grant in 1970, and continued until 1982.

Asner even pioneered the idea of a "shared fictional universe" by portraying Lou Grant on other sitcoms — Rhoda and Roseanne. Meanwhile, he had roles on Studio 50 and the Sunset Strip, the original Hawaii Five-O and Dead Man's Gun. He later reprised his Hawaii Five-O role in the 2012 remake, lending some continuity to the show.

Younger fans likely know Asner best for his voice, as he worked more and more in animation starting in the late 1990s. He played Joshua in Hanna-Barbera's Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, J. Jonah Jameson in the 1994 animated Spider-Man series and Ed Wuncler on The Boondocks starting in 2005. The peak of Asner's voice acting career is likely as the surly widower Carl in Up.


Asner was extremely active as the president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1980s. He used his platform to speak out on U.S. politics, including foreign policy in Central America as the time. He was also instrumental in the 1980 SAG strike. He was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Asner insisted that his "left-wing political views" were the main cause of Lou Grant's cancellation.

Asner is survived by his four children: Matthew, Liza, Kate and Charles. So far there has been no word on memorial services for Asner.