Ed Asner (1929 - 2021)

A photo of Ed Asner
Ed Asner
1929 - 2021
November 15, 1929
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri United States
August 29, 2021
Tarzana, Los Angeles County, California United States
Other Names
Edward Yitzhak Asner, Edward David Asner
Ed Asner was born on November 15, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the child of Morris David Asner and Elizabeth (Seliger) Asner, with siblings Benjamin, Eve, Esther, and Labe. According to his family tree, Ed was father to 4 children. He married Nancy Lou Asner on March 23, 1959 in Los Angeles, California and they later divorced in 1988 in Los Angeles, California. They had children Matthew David Asner, Liza Emma Pearson, and Kathryn Leigh Luckerman. Ed's partner was Carolyn Jean Vogelman in 1989 in Los Angeles, California and they later separated in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. They had a child Charles Edward Vogelman. He married Cindy (Gilmore) Asner on August 2, 1998 in Los Angeles, California and they later divorced in 2015 in Los Angeles, California. He died on August 29, 2021 in Tarzana, California at 91 years of age. We know that Ed Asner had been residing in Tarzana in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States.
Updated: September 3, 2021
Best known as the character Lou Grant in the 1970s tv show the "Mary Tyler Moore Show", Lou Grant in the 1980s tv show "Lou Grant", and the voice of the old man in the animated movie "Up".
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Ed Asner
Most commonly known as
Ed Asner
Full name
Edward Yitzhak Asner, Edward David Asner
Other names or aliases
Tarzana in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Last known residence
Ed Asner was born on in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri United States
Ed Asner died on in Tarzana, Los Angeles County, California United States
Natural causes
Cause of death
September 4, 2021
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

The son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, his father Morris David Asner was from Poland, and his mother Lizzie (Seliger) Asner was from Russia. The last name Asner originated from the German speaking Austrian Empire.

Nationality & Locations

Born in Kansas City Missouri, Ed spent most of his life in Los Angeles, California.


As a boy, Mr. Asner became interested in dramatics and worked on a school radio program. After high school, he was accepted at the University of Chicago but dropped out after a year and a half to work at odd jobs — taxi driver, encyclopedia salesman, metal finisher at an auto plant — while he tried to build an acting career.


He was the youngest of five children of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, Morris David Asner, a junkyard owner from Poland, and Lizzie (Seliger) Asner, from Russia.


Was Ed baptized?


Actor (Ed Asner, Emmy-Winning Star of ‘Lou Grant’ and ‘Up,’ Dies at 91 Best known as the gruff newsman he first played on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” he was also a busy character actor and a political activist. He played the title role on the LOU GRANT show, a one-hour drama, the same role he had played for laughs on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. By Anita Gates Aug. 29, 2021 Updated 4:04 p.m. ET Ed Asner, the burly character actor who won seven Emmy Awards — five of them for playing the same character, the gruff but lovable newsman Lou Grant, introduced on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” — and later starred in film hits like “Up” and “Elf” — died on Sunday at his home in Tarzana, Calif. He was 91. His death was confirmed by his family via Twitter. No cause was specified. Mr. Asner also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985 and was active in political causes both within and beyond the entertainment industry. The issues he supported over the years included unionism (in particular the air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981) and animal rights; those he protested against included the American military presence in El Salvador. Mr. Asner was 40 when he was approached for the role of Lou Grant, the irascible but idealistic head of the fictional WJM television newsroom in Minneapolis and the boss of Ms. Moore’s Mary Richards. His place in television comedy history was secured when, during the first episode, he told Ms. Moore, an eager young job seeker, “You’ve got spunk,” then paused and added, “I hate spunk.” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977, and Mr. Asner was nominated for the Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series every year. He won in 1971, 1972 and 1975. He went on to win twice for best lead actor, in 1978 and 1980, for the spinoff “Lou Grant,” making him the first performer to have received Emmys for playing the same character in both a comedy and a drama series. “Lou Grant” (1977-82) itself was an unusual case, a drama series developed around a sitcom character. In the show, Mr. Grant returned to his first love, editing a big-city newspaper, and the scripts tackled serious issues that included, in the first season alone, domestic abuse, gang rivalries, neo-Nazi groups, nursing-home scandals and cults. In between playing Lou Grant, Mr. Asner also won Emmys for his appearances in the 1976 mini-series “Rich Man, Poor Man,” as Nick Nolte’s bitter immigrant father, and the groundbreaking, lavishly lauded 1977 mini-series “Roots,” in which he played a slave-ship captain with scruples. He also won five Golden Globes, one for “Rich Man, Poor Man” and two each for the two series in which he played Lou Grant. In more recent years he had been seen in guest roles on television series like “The Good Wife,” “The Middle,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Cobra Kai,” and as recurring characters on “The Practice” and “ER.” In television movies, he played the billionaire Warren Buffett (in “Too Big to Fail,” 2011) and Pope John XXIII (in a 2002 movie by that name). Edward David Asner was born on Nov. 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Mo., and grew up in Kansas City, Kan. He was the youngest of five children of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, Morris David Asner, a junkyard owner from Poland, and Lizzie (Seliger) Asner, from Russia. As a boy, Mr. Asner became interested in dramatics and worked on a school radio program. After high school, he was accepted at the University of Chicago, but dropped out after a year and a half to work at odd jobs — taxi driver, encyclopedia salesman, metal finisher at an auto plant — while he tried to build an acting career. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army and sent to France. Mustered out in 1953, he returned to Chicago to work with the Playwrights Theater Club and the Compass Players, a precursor of the Second City comedy troupe. But he soon moved to New York, where he found work on stage (a small part in “The Threepenny Opera” at the Theater de Lys in Greenwich Village and a short-lived Broadway play, “Face of a Hero,” starring Jack Lemmon) and in a handful of television shows. Moving to California in 1961, he found the acting jobs more lucrative, and was cast in a short-lived CBS political drama, “Slattery’s People,” starring Richard Crenna. He made a point of largely avoiding comedy — out of fear, he said in a 2002 appearance at Vanderbilt University, and because “in those days you got discovered by doing the drama shows as a guest star.” But he agreed to audition for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” because, as he said in an Archive of American Television interview, Lou Grant Mr. Asner as Lou Grant with Mary Tyler Moore in a scene from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” He won three Emmys for his portrayal on the show, and two more when the character moved to his own drama series. Lou was a hard-drinking, straight-shooting, short-tempered journalist who had tender emotions but did not plan to show them; a strong aura of professional and personal integrity; a fear that he had outlived his era; and “a great common core of honor,” as Mr. Asner told Robert S. Alley and Irby B. Brown, the authors of “Love Is All Around: The Making of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’” In the post-Lou Grant era, Mr. Asner worked on both screen and stage. He returned to Broadway in 1989 to play the pugnacious Harry Brock opposite Madeline Kahn in a revival of “Born Yesterday.” His last Broadway play was “Grace” (2012), a tale of gospel-themed motels and murder, in which he played an exterminator. He provided the voice of the lead character in the Oscar-winning animated movie “Up” (2009), about an elderly widower who flies to South America by attaching roughly a zillion colorful balloons to his house. Manohla Dargis’s review in The New York Times, which praised Mr. Asner and the supporting characters — including a portly stowaway scout and several talking dogs — called it “filmmaking at its purest.” Mr. Asner also played a levelheaded Santa Claus in the Will Ferrell comedy “Elf” (2003), about a tall human raised by North Pole elves, which has become a Christmas-season classic. (It was Santa’s fault, really; the human baby crawled into his giant bag of gifts one busy Christmas Eve.) The Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert called the film “one of those rare Christmas comedies that has a heart, a brain and a wicked sense of humor.” He was a former F.B.I. man in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK,” he did voice work for several animated series and he starred briefly in several more prime-time series. They included “Off the Rack” (1984), as Eileen Brennan’s business partner; “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill” (1991), with Sharon Gless; “Thunder Alley” (1994), a sitcom in which he played a retired stock car racer; and “Center of the Universe” (2004), as John Goodman’s intrusive father. One of his last film appearances was as a New York psychologist in “The Garden Left Behind” (2019), a drama about a young Mexican transgender woman that won a SXSW Film Festival audience award. That year he also appeared on several television series, including five episodes of “Dead to Me,” a Netflix drama about grief. Mr. Asner married Nancy Sykes in 1959, and they had three children. They divorced in 1988. Ten years later he married Cindy Gilmore, a producer; and they separated in 2007 but did not divorce until 2015. He is survived by two daughters, Liza and Katie Asner; two sons, Charles and Matthew, and 10 grandchildren. In a 1999 interview, Mr. Asner looked back fondly on his long-running series. “To me, the best performances come from those milieus where you create the family,” he said. “Of bolstering each other, of love for each other’s work, of trying to help each other, of trying to get the best out of each other. And I believe it pays off.”)

Personal Life

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Ed Asner Ed Asner


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Nancy Lou Asner


Ed Asner

Married: March 23, 1959 - 1988
Cause of Separation: Divorce
Married at: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Divorced at: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Ed Asner Ed Asner
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Carolyn Jean Vogelman


Ed Asner

Together: 1989 - 1991
Cause of Separation: Separated
Began: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Ended: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
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Cindy (Gilmore) Asner


Ed Asner

Married: August 2, 1998 - 2015
Cause of Separation: Divorce
Married at: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Divorced at: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States


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Ed Asner, the Iconic Lou Grant on Two Acclaimed TV Series, Dies at 91 The seven-time Emmy winner was funny on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and serious on his own newspaper drama, then delighted movie audiences with 'Up.' BY MIKE BARNES AUGUST 29, 2021 10:40AM Ed Asner, the tough guy with the soft side who starred as the irascible newsroom boss Lou Grant on the legendary sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on his own hard-hitting TV drama, died Sunday. He was 91. Said his family on Twitter: “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.” Asner received three of his record seven Emmy Awards (in 1971, ’72 and ’75) for playing the news director/producer of the WJM-TV evening news on CBS’ The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then reeled in two more trophies (1978, ’80) after his out-of-work character was hired as city editor of the Los Angeles Tribune newspaper on CBS’ Lou Grant. Related Stories Bill Taylor MOVIE NEWS Bill Taylor, VFX Artist on 'Blade Runner,' 'Fast and the Furious' and 'Bourne Identity,' Dies at 77 Illustration of Ed Asner TV THR Icon: Ed Asner Looks Back on His Career, the Golden Age of TV and His Date With Mary Tyler Moore He’s one of only two actors (Uzo Aduba is the other) to win a comedy and drama Emmy for the same role on different shows. Asner also received Emmys for his performances on two renowned ABC miniseries: 1976’s Rich Man, Poor Man, in which he played an embittered German immigrant, and 1977’s Roots, as the sea captain who brought Kunta Kinte to America. Asner then attracted a new generation of fans when he voiced Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old widower who ties thousands of balloons to his house to fulfill a dream of seeing South America, in the Oscar best picture nominee Up (2009). An avowed liberal, Asner also served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, from 1981-85, and sparred often with Charlton Heston, a noted conservative who preceded him as head of the guild. He received the SAG Life Achievement Award in 2002. After he was named a THR Icon, he reflected on his long career with THR‘s Scott Feinberg this month in what was likely his final interview. Asked by Feinberg how “old he felt,” Asner replied: “If it weren’t for my bad left leg, I would feel younger. I’ve got many parts that need to be bolstered and refurbished. And I haven’t got time to undergo all those changes.” And what was left on his bucket list? “I haven’t climbed Suribachi! No, I think just ensuring that I’ve left enough for the family,” he said. Asner’s portrayal of a ill-tempered, comedic police chief in the 1971 Erle Stanley Gardner NBC telefilm They Call It Murder led to the role that changed his life. MTM Enterprises head Grant Tinker saw Asner’s work in the dailies and recommended him for the role of the gruff Grant on the new Mary Tyler Moore Show, starring Tinker’s wife. (Gavin MacLeod also had read for the part of Grant but told producers he was probably better suited to play newswriter Murray Slaughter.) “It was such a gorgeous character, such a gorgeous script,” Asner recalled in a 1973 interview with The New York Times. “I began licking my lips over the project. I couldn’t believe a situation comedy was affecting me this way. I had never regarded myself as a comedian, and I’d deliberately stayed away from comedy parts.” Asner played Grant — who famously had a low tolerance for “spunk” — on The Mary Tyler Moore Show for seven seasons, from September 1970 until the series shut its doors in March 1977. Six months later, Asner was still on the air, and still playing Grant, but now he was in an hourlong drama. The radical idea for the segue came from James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, the creators of The Mary Tyler Moore show, who originally had written that Grant had been a newspaper guy before he joined Minneapolis’ WJM. They also believed they could have a hit in the wake of the success of the journalism film All the President’s Men. But Lou Grant was a one-camera drama that emphasized journalism and serious, topical issues, not a three-camera comedy taped in front of a live audience — a much different animal than The Mary Tyler Moore Show. “I was told [by the producers], ‘It’s up to you to maintain the flame of Lou Grant, remember who the character is,’ ” he said during a 1999 interview with the Archive of American Television. “I got down on that floor with the single camera and the new crew and began slogging through the first shows, and nobody’s laughing. I’m so busy gesticulating and grimacing to punch whatever I’m finding funny to make sure the audience knows that there’s a laugh here. I was becoming a nervous wreck. “After the show opened, I went in for a session [with his therapist] and said, ‘What do you think [about the series]?’ He said, ‘Why are you grimacing so much?’ That’s all he said. I’m trying to get those laughs, knowing that the guys told me to remember who Lou was. I said, ‘I’m going to forget about comedy.’ … I was relieved.” Even TV Guide listed Lou Grant as a comedy at first. “People were expecting to turn on a show that was a continuation of the old comedic routine,” Asner told Sam Tweedle in a 2010 interview. “They certainly weren’t prepared to see issues and events discussed in depth as Lou Grant presented them, so the ratings were terrible.” Lou Grant, however, went on to capture the Emmy for best drama series in 1979 and ’80 — after The Mary Tyler Moore Show had closed with the best comedy statuette in 1975, ’76 and ’77 — and lasted five seasons. The series could have lasted longer. The outspoken Asner often said that his public opposition of the U.S.-backed military dictatorship in El Salvador led to CBS canceling Lou Grant. Edward Asner was born on Nov. 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri, the youngest of five children (the family lived across the state line in Kansas City, Kansas). His father, Morris, owned a junkyard. Asner worked as feature-page editor on the Wyandotte High School newspaper, The Pantograph, and was an All-City lineman on the football team. (A framed photo of him wearing No. 52 from that era was seen hanging on a wall in Grant’s office on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Asner attended the University of Chicago, where he participated in dramatics, but dropped out after two years and returned to Kansas City, where he sold shoes and encyclopedias. The directionless Asner made his way back to Chicago, did some acting and worked on an auto-assembly line. “I really wanted to be an adventurer, to lay pipelines in South America or be a cabin boy on an Alaskan cruiser, but I didn’t have the guts,” he told the Times in the 1973 interview. In July 1951, Uncle Sam provided some adventure when Asner was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in France. Following the service, the stocky 5-foot-9 Asner joined Paul Sills’ Playwrights Theatre Club in Chicago, and his acting juices were renewed: He went on to appear in 26 plays during a two-year period, working at times with Barbara Harris and Elaine May. But when the troupe veered toward improv comedy — “it just seemed like too much fun to me, I wanted to stay legit” — he left and headed to New York City. In 1956, Asner landed a gig on Broadway in Threepenny Opera, playing Mr. Peachum for nearly three years. He supplemented that run with work on local TV shows and in off-Broadway performances. In 1960, he appeared on stage opposite Jack Lemmon in Face of a Hero and filmed an episode of Naked City, playing a cop. Asner moved to Los Angeles in 1961, and during the cross-country drive stopped in Ohio to guest-star on an episode of Route 66. Dramatic roles in other shows like The Outer Limits,The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare and Slattery’s People — on which he portrayed a newspaper reporter — followed. He made his big-screen debut in Elvis Presley’s Kid Galahad (1962) and played a detective who helps a suicide-center volunteer (Sidney Poitier) save the victim of an overdose (Anne Bancroft) in The Slender Thread (1965). Later, he was in another Presley film, Change of Habit (1969), as was Moore. Meanwhile, he was distinguishing himself as a busy character actor on many of the era’s top TV shows, including Medical Center, The Name of the Game, Mod Squad, Ironside and Police Story, before his big break came along on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In 1977, Asner delivered a ripe performance as colorful Louisiana politician Huey Long in the NBC movie The Life and Assassination of the Kingfish. He also sparkled that year as a ruthless businessman reunited with his estranged wife (Maureen Stapleton) in the ABC film The Gathering. Asner’s feature career included roles in The Venetian Affair (1966), El Dorado (1967), Gunn (1967), They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970), The Wrestler (1974), Gus (1976), Daniel (1983), Fort Apache the Bronx (1981), Sidney Lumet’s Daniel (1983), JFK (1991), Hard Rain (1998), The Animal (2001) and, as Santa Claus, Elf (2003). More recently, he played Franklin D. Roosevelt in a one-man show on stage, did lots of voice work and appeared in recurring roles on The Closer, The Practice, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Good Wife and Grace and Frankie. Survivors include his children, Katie, Charles and twins Matthew and Liza, and grandchildren Jake, Will, Avivah, Max, Wolf, Eddy, Gabriel, Charlotte, Grant and Helena. He was married to Nancy Lou Sykes from 1959 until their 1988 divorce. Duane Byrge contributed to this report.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Ed's lifetime.

In 1929, in the year that Ed Asner was born, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre happened on February 14th. In Chicago, seven men from the North Side Irish gang were gunned down by Al Capone's South Side Italian gang at the garage at 2122 North Clark Street. Al Capone was making a successful move to take over Chicago's organized crime. But the St. Valentine's Day massacre also resulted in a public outcry against all gangsters.

In 1932, by the time he was merely 3 years old, five years to the day after Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart flew solo from Newfoundland to Ireland, the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo and the first to replicate Lindbergh's feat. She flew over 2,000 miles in just under 15 hours.

In 1968, at the age of 39 years old, Ed was alive when on April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader, was shot and killed by an assassin in Memphis. James Earl Ray was apprehended and plead guilty to shooting Dr. King. Ray died in jail in 1998.

In 1973, at the age of 44 years old, Ed was alive when on August 15th, amidst rising calls for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, Congress imposed an end to the bombing of Cambodia.

In 1996, Ed was 67 years old when on July 5th, the first cloned mammal - "Dolly the Sheep" - was born in Scotland. She had three mothers. Dolly lived to be 6 years old and produced 6 lambs. Since, other sheep have been cloned as well as horses, pigs, deer, and bulls.

Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
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