Ed Asner, TV Legend and Star of Pixar's Up, Dead at 91

Veteran TV actor Ed Asner, who starred as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and his own spinoff, and also played the main character in Pixar's Up, has died.

By Corinne Heller Aug 29, 2021 7:10 PMTags
Watch: Ed Asner, Star of "Lou Grant" and "Up," Dies at 91

Veteran TV actor Ed Asner, who starred on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and spinoff Lou Grant and won over new generations of viewers with the heartwarming animated Pixar film Up, has died. He was 91.

The seven-time Emmy Award winner passed away peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 29, surrounded by family, his publicist confirmed to NBC. Asner, who was married twice, is survived by two daughters and two sons from one of his marriages and another past relationship.

"We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully," read a message posted on the actor's Twitter page. "Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head- Goodnight dad. We love you."

Asner was born in Kansas City, Mo. and raised in Kansas City, Kan. He attended the University of Chicago and after being drafted during the Korean War, served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. An aspiring professional actor at the time, he starred in plays that toured Army camps in Europe.

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Following his military service, he moved to New York, where he made his Broadway debut in Threepenny Opera in 1955. He also occasionally performed sketch comedy back in Chicago with what is now known as Second City. Two years later, he made his onscreen debut in the TV series Studio One and acted continuously on television throughout most of his career.

His breakout role came in 1970, when he made his debut as Lou Grant on the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which became a big hit and earned him three Emmys. The show starred Mary Tyler Moore, who died in 2017 at age 80, and Betty White, 99.

Asner reprised his role in a spinoff series, Lou Grant, in 1977, and won two more Emmys for his part. He also won Emmys for roles on Rich Man, Poor Man and the miniseries Roots.

Asner also did a lot of voice acting throughout his career. In the '90s, he was part of the cast of Batman: The Animated SeriesGargoylesSpider-Man: The Animated AdventuresFreakazoid! and Captain Planet and the Planeteers, in which he portrayed villain Hoggish Greedly.

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In the '00s, he played Santa in the comedy movie Elf and had recurring roles on The Practice and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. In 2009, he provided the voice of main character Carl Fredricksen in the Disney-Pixar animated movie Up.

His character, a widower, is taken on a whimsical adventure as he tries to fulfill a dream and a promise he made to his late wife, Ellie.

"My primary source of mail deals with one-syllable titles: Up and Elf," Asner told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published last week. "I love them both."

In recent years, Asner guest starred on the Karate Kid sequel series, Cobra Kai, playing Johnny Lawrence's wealthy stepfather. He also appeared on the show Grace and Frankie.

Before his death, Asner completed more than five acting projects, including the films A Fargo Christmas Story and Awaken. His most recent project was the movie Deadly Draw, which is still filming.

When asked what he still had on his bucket list, Asner told The Hollywood Reporter, "I haven't climbed Suribachi! No, I think just ensuring that I've left enough for the family."

See photos from Asner's life and career:

1976: Emmys

The actor appears with The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-stars Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight at the Emmy Awards.

'70s: Lou Grant

The actor talks on the phone over a cluttered desk in a scene from the television program Lou Grant.

1977: Ed and LeVar Burton in Roots

The two appear in a publicity photo for the miniseries.

1980: Ed and Julie Andrews

Ed Asner and the Sound of Music actress attend the Because We Care Benefit for Cambodia.

1981: Classic Ed

The actor poses for a pic in this undated photo.

1986: Television Academy Hall of Fame Awards

Asner appears with Betty White, Ted Knight, Cloris Leachman and Gavin MacLoed.

1989: Celebrity Fundraiser

The actor appears with Treat Williams and Judith Ivey at a National Theater Colony fundraiser in New York.

1992: Cruel Doubt

The actor appears as Bill Osteen and Matt McGrath appears as Chris Pritchard star in the crime mini series.

'00s: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

The actor appears as Wilson White on the show.

2008: Ed and William Shatner

The two appear at the TV Land Awards.

2008: TV Land Awards

The actor poses on the red carpet.

2009: Up Premiere

The actor poses at the premiere of Disney-Pixar's Up in Los Angeles.

2011: Reunion With Betty White

The former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-stars appear onstage at the 25th Anniversary Genesis Awards.

2012: The Middle

The actor appears in a scene from the ABC comedy series.

2012: Signing Session

The actor poses for portraits at a signing for his DVD Elephant Sighs at Barnes & Noble at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles.

2015: L.A. Theatre Works 40th Anniversary Gala

The actor appears onstage.

2016: TCAs

The actor appears at the Getty Images Portrait Studio at the Winter Television Critics Association press tour.

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