How did Ed Asner die?
Death. Asner died of natural causes at his home in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles on August 29, 2021, at age 91. wikipedia.orgEd Asner
31 August, 2021 - 09:10am
31 August, 2021 - 09:10am
31 August, 2021 - 09:10am
Lou Grant smiled and was clearly impressed as he stood in front of his new young associate producer, Mary Richards.
“You know what? You’ve got spunk,” the seasoned news director told her in his small office outside the WJJM-TV newsroom in Minneapolis.
“Well, yes …” Mary said, a little embarrassed but appreciative of the compliment.
Suddenly Lou’s face erupted in anger.
As Lou glared at Mary, the studio audience laughed, and the first episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77 on CBS) set the tone for seven years of hilarity.
Lou was grumpy but lovable, tough but vulnerable, impatient but compassionate.
And viewers couldn’t help but laugh and care about him.
Emmy-winning actor Ed Asner made us care.
And Mr. Asner will be missed.
Mr. Asner, the last surviving member of the original “Mary Tyler Moore Show” cast (Betty White, 99, joined the show later), died Sunday morning. Mr. Asner was 91 and full of energy in his later years.
This writer discovered that on two occasions interviewing him, the first time on the phone. At the time, the prolific actor was guest-starring on some TV show — I don’t remember which one. But I’ll never forget his passion for his latest project.
And much like Lou Grant, he said what he thought. He didn’t mince words. Ed was Lou.
I didn’t tell him I was struggling with a cold at the time, but he noticed it in my nasal-like voice and told me, like Lou would have told Mary or WJJM-TV writer Murray Slaughter, “Take care of that cold!”
To the point and protective. Ed was Lou.
The second time I talked with him was in person and on the red carpet at the TV Land Awards at the Santa Monica Airport, where a hangar had been converted into an auditorium for the televised special.
Dressed in a tux, Mr. Asner was smiling and laughing. I asked him about his latest projects, and he spoke with pride and at length about playing Carl, the grumpy but lovable widower, in Disney-Pixar’s “Up” (2009), which would be released a few months later.
Mr. Asner loved playing characters, and he remained prolific in his later years. I loved it when he reprised a villain he played on the classic “Hawaii Five-O” for the rebooted version.
He also guest-starred on shows such as CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” on which he acted with Thousand Oaks actor and avocado grower Tom Selleck, the series’ star.
And Mr. Asner was known for his continuing role on Netflix’s “Cobai High,” inspired by the “Karate Kid’ franchise. He played the stepfather to Lawrence (William Zabka). Mr. Asner’s character delivered tough love, and it’s hard to imagine any actor who knows how to do that better than Mr. Asner.
Mr. Zabka posted a tweet after learning about Mr. Asner’s death.
“Devastated to hear this news,” Mr. Zabka tweeted. “What a legend. What a beautiful human and special friend. I learned so much from him. My love and deepest condolences to the Asner family.”
An actress from a classic TV show expressed her regret over the loss of Mr. Asner.
“I’m heartbroken,” tweeted Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia on “The Brady Bunch,” in a post that showed her with him. “Rest in Peace my sweet, kind and dear friend Ed. You made and will continue to make this world a better place. I love you and will miss you so very much.”
Mr. Asner was born Nov. 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Mo., and grew up to act in productions at the University of Chicago.
Like Lou Grant, Mr. Asner served in the army. He was in the Signal Corps in the early 1950s. Afterward, he pursued acting in New York City and got some acting gigs on stage and TV.
Lou, meanwhile, tried to be patient, but could only put up with so much from his incompetent and egotistical anchorman, Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Watching Lou with Ted was like watching a boiling pot of water, and you could almost see the steam come out of Lou’s ears when he finally had enough.
But it was “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” that made the difference. Lou Grant was Ed Asner’s big break.
He could be blunt and irritable, but shy and uncertain. He did his best to avoid WJJM-TV’s “Happy Homemaker” star who had a constant crush on him: the irrepressible Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). Tough guy Lou wasn’t sure how to handle Sue Ann.
At the same time, even if Lou wouldn’t admit it, he cared about Ted.
And he cared about Mary. And Murray (Gavin MacLeod). He cared about everyone around him because Lou was the father figure, the guy delivering tough love.
And he was the classic newsman who knew the importance of getting the facts right.
Long before I ever got to interview Mr. Asner, he inspired me, mainly by his acting on his spinoff “Lou Grant.” Here Lou was the Los Angeles city editor wisely mentoring his young reporters and determined to get the stories. I decided on journalism long before that, but was impressed with Lou Grant, a newsman with integrity, a man determined to find the truth.
But for the most part, Mr. Asner will be remembered for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” where Lou, despite his gruffness, showed his vulnerability. Viewers felt for him when his wife Edie (Priscilla Alden Morrill) decided to separate from him and later divorced him.
Viewers felt intrigued when Lou and Mary tried to go on a date. It didn’t work because, in the end, Mary couldn’t think of him as anyone else but that father figure, Mr. Grant.
And viewers cheered for Lou when he faced an old girlfriend who treated him badly and looked him up just to borrow money from him. He gave her the money but decided to handle the incident maturely and calmly walk away from the table, showing her she couldn’t upset him. He had grown.
Then at the last moment, Lou said, “To hell with it!,” turned around and pushed the ex-girlfriend’s head down into her dessert. She raised her face, covered with frosting, and the studio audience howled.
You couldn’t help but root for Lou.
You can catch all the episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on the Hulu streaming service (hulu.com).
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31 August, 2021 - 09:10am
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The seemingly indefatigable "Mary Tyler Moore Show" alumnus and "Lou Grant" star, who also had a string of Broadway credits, began his TV career in earnest in the 1960s when he appeared in anthology series such as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Route 66," then "Thunder Alley" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Asner's roles went on to include present-day streaming darlings "Grace & Frankie," "Dead to Me" and "Cobra Kai."
The seven-time Emmy Award winner, who died Sunday at age 91, worked until the end. He'll appear in a number of posthumous roles for years to come, including the animated projects "Dug Days," "The Gettysburg Address" and "Back Home Again;" as well as the live-action series and films "A Fargo Christmas Story," "Awaken" and "The Last Saturday Night."
Until then, here's a look back on some Asner's must-see roles:
Asner made his big-screen debut in 1962's "Kid Galahad," one of the two films he made with Elvis Presley. They were minor roles, so Asner called it the "big league" when he was cast in Howard Hawks' 1966 John Wayne flick "El Dorado" — and it was, because the movie was also a critical success.
The Western featured Wayne as a gunslinger, Robert Mitchum as a sheriff and Asner as Wayne's rival, the wealthy landowner Bart Jason.
Lou Grant in 'Mary Tyler Moore' and 'Lou Grant'
Asner's most iconic role was that of veteran newsman Lou Grant — a character who originated as the blustery but lovable, spunk-hating news director of the 1970 sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." The "everyman" role earned Asner three comedy Emmys and led to the hourlong dramatic series "Lou Grant," which ran on CBS from 1977 to 1982. Asner's portrayal of the hard-nosed city editor of the Los Angeles Tribune earned him two Emmys for drama, making him the only actor to win Emmys for playing the same character in both a comedy and a drama.
"He radiates warmth, generosity and caring, someone who reflects a toughness over a mound of Jell-O, a nice degree of intelligence but a working intelligence as opposed to an arrogant one," he told The Times about the character in 1977.
Axel Jordache in 'Rich Man, Poor Man'
In 1976, ABC aired the colorful and melodramatic "Rich Man, Poor Man," a 12-hour miniseries about the immigrant Jordache family that had Americans "glued to their TV sets for the groundbreaking saga."
The miniseries was based on Irwin Shaw's bestselling 1970 novel by the same name and was set between 1945 to 1965. In it, Asner played the clan's tyrannical German-born patriarch, Axel, the father of Peter Strauss's Rudy Jordache and Nick Nolte's Tom Jordache.
Asner earned a supporting actor Primetime Emmy Award for the role.
Asner was among the numerous sympathetic, even beloved, white TV stars enlisted to play unsympathetic roles in ABC's iconic 1977 slave-trade saga "Roots." Asner was transformed into the morally conflicted Capt. Davies, who led the slave ship that brought LeVar Burton's Kunta Kinte to America.
He earned another Emmy Award for that three-episode performance.
Returning to feel-good fare, Asner played Santa Claus in the 2003 Will Ferrell comedy "Elf." It was a relatively small role, but a climactic one — Asner's Santa is marooned in Central Park because of a dearth of holiday spirit, so Ferrell's Buddy the elf helps power up Santa's sleigh while his friends spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.
It was one of many St. Nick roles that Asner took on over the years, prompting him to say, "I'm getting too old for this job!" in the comedy. Prior to that role, his other holiday films include 1996's animated "The Story of Santa Claus," the 1991 TV movie "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" and 2002's "The Man Who Saved Christmas." He also earned an Emmy Award nomination for the 2006 film "A Christmas Card."
Asner voiced the cranky Carl Fredricksen — a widower who tries hoisting his house into the air with exactly 20,622 helium balloons — in Pixar's Oscar-winning 2009 tear-jerker "Up."
"Instead of a Clint Eastwood-type senior citizen who is fitter than people half his age, 'Up' gives us a man who uses a walker and can't handle stairs but still manages to be heroic when it counts," wrote former Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan." And 'Up's' multi-minute montage of the long married life of Carl and his wife, Ellie, is a small gem that will stay with you for a lifetime."
The animation studio tweeted that Asner was "our real life Carl Fredricksen: a veneer of grouch over an incredibly loving and kind human being." Asner's work on the spinoff TV Series "Dug Days" had already been completed prior to his death.
Mr. Weiner on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Asner appeared as Mr. Weiner in a 2001 "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode titled "The Acupuncturist." He seemingly played a heightened version of himself, as did many of Larry David's guest actors, but was cast as a dad who David inadvertently convinces to cut his son out of his will.
It was one of many of Asner's later-career roles. His guest appearance as Abraham Klein in a 2009 episode of "CSI: NY" also earned him a guest actor Emmy Award nomination for drama series.
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