The Heart-Wrenching Death Of Ed Asner

Beloved TV actor Ed Asner died on August 29, 2021 at the age of 91 (via Deadline). Asner's official Twitter account posted a heartfelt statement about the much-loved icon's death. "We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head — Goodnight dad. We love you."

Tributes began to pour in almost immediately. "Oh Ed Asner Rest In Peace and power friend. what a truly good and honorable human you were .gratitude for all you did for the screen Actors Guild, when it was a true Union bless you," tweeted Rosanna Arquette

Holly Robinson Peete wrote, "Oh this hurts. Rest In Peace Ed. Not only an iconic award winning actor but a humanitarian and someone who I worked closely with to support #Autism families. Just crushing. #EdAsner."

Ed Asner was a prolific actor

Asner came into the public spotlight through his stint as the gravely-voiced, yet teddy bear-like newspaper editor Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-1977). He was so well-loved in this role that his character received its own spin-off series, "Lou Grant" (1977-1982), in total garnering Asner seven Emmys and five Golden Globes, per IMDb. After that, as Biography tells us, Asner worked in a number of roles in television as he turned to voice work, which culminated in his beloved turn as Carl Fredricksen, the elderly man who carried his house into the sky using balloons in Pixar's "Up" (2009). He was also president of the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) from 1981-1985, per SAG AFTRA.

"Lou Grant," his character's self-titled television show, had a serious bend and tackled social issues such as gun control and child abuse. Sadly, Asner speculates, this led to the show's cancellation and adversely affected his career, per Deseret News. Asner said, "Well, you have to make a choice. If you want to get in trouble, then you'll open your mouth. But there's only so much you can do. And if you think you can do greater good by your acting, then stay that way."

Theater actor, veteran, and lifelong activist

Yitzhak Edward Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1929, to a Russian, orthodox Jewish family, as the Jewish Virtual Library says, and was raised just over the state line in Kansas City, Kansas (via Kansaspedia). Asner showed an interest in acting during his time at the University of Chicago, per Biography, and once he finished serving in the U.S. Army's Signal Corps in the 1950s, moved to New York City to pursue a career in theater. In his own words, as he said in a 2016 interview with Variety, he "arrived in September, and by December... was doing that one-night show at the Phoenix." He also starred in Brecht's renowned play, "The Threepenny Opera," as well as Chekhov's "Ivanov." The transition to working in front of a live studio audience for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," therefore, presented for him none of the problems it did his co-stars.

Asner, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who developed his "worker first" ethics while employed at a General Motor's factory in his 20s, has received a lot of blowback for his activism over the years. In 1982, he sought to raise funds for medical aid for rebels against El Salvador's military-led government, as NNDB says, and this is when sponsors pulled out of "Lou Grant." He also sought a retrial for Black Panther member Mumia Abu-Jamal, a pardon for Native American activist Leonard Peltier, and helped fund Michael Moore's first film, "Roger & Me" (1989). Asner was so vocal, in fact, that some dubbed him "Lou Rant."

Voice actor, poker fan, and supporter of neurodivergent individuals

Of course, younger readers will recognize Asner's gruff voice from Pixar's "Up" (2009). Asner, who in a 2021 interview on YouTube said he "still cries at 'Up'," described on Syfy Wire how he saw himself in "Up's" protagonist, 78-year old widower Carl Fredricksen. Pixar called up Asner, specifically, and said they wanted to make a film "not about a toy, not about a car, not about a bug or a rat, but about a cranky 78-year-old man with a dream," to which Asner replied, "Sounds like me." Asner had also done voice work in the TV shows "Spider-Man," "Batman: The Animated Series," "Gargoyles," and "Freakazoid," as well as Bioware's classic "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" video game.

At age 90, as he said on Fabiosa, Asner advised "working, reading, and being with people that can excite you" to stay healthy and happy. He continued, "I can't reach beyond my head, but if I can scratch my head, I can still work." Asner was also a huge fan of poker, and, as PR Newswire shows, kicked off numerous celebrity charity poker events such as the annual "Ed Asner & Friends Celebrity Poker Tournament," the proceeds of which went to The Ed Asner Family Center (TEAFC). As their website says, they support neurodivergent individuals and their families. Asner himself, as he stated on Variety, was autistic.

Asner is survived by his four children from two marriages.