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Legendary Actor Ed Asner Has Died At Age 91

Asner became an icon as the gruff Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then continued to work in TV and film and as a voice actor for decades.

Posted on August 29, 2021, at 2:47 p.m. ET

Ed smiling next to a person wearing the cartoon head of Ed's character, Carl Fredricksen, from Up
Barry King / FilmMagic

Ed Asner arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Up, held at the El Capitan Theatre, on May 16, 2009.

Legendary actor Ed Asner, who became a household name as the curmudgeonly boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show before memorable roles in Elf and Up, died on Sunday at age 91.

The news was confirmed in a tweet from Asner's account. "We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully," it reads. "Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head- Goodnight dad. We love you."

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.

Twitter: @TheOnlyEdAsner

Asner shot to fame playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. He won seven Emmys, the most of any male performer, and was the first actor to win awards in both drama and comedy categories for portraying the same character. (Lou Grant, an hourlong drama spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, ran for five seasons.)

Ed with his hands on his hips talks to Mary, who's looking down, in the office
CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

Edward Asner (as Lou Grant) and Mary Tyler Moore (as Mary Richards) in a scene from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

In the 2000s, Asner enjoyed a second wave to his long career, first appearing as Santa in the Will Ferrell hit Elf in 2003 and then voicing the character of Carl Fredricksen, the grumpy widower in Pixar's Up, in 2009.

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"My primary source of mail deals with one-syllable titles: Up and Elf," said Asner in an interview in the Hollywood Reporter published just three days before his death. "I love them both."

Asner was also a progressive political activist and served two terms as president of one of Hollywood's major unions, SAG, the Screen Actors Guild.

He often lent his support to causes, and just days ago spoke to THR about the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, and the possibility of California Gov. Gavin Newsom being recalled.

"Afghanistan is a terrible setback for Biden, though he is certainly not to blame — he’s only been in office six months, for god’s sake! It’s a shame," said Asner. "But I’m sure he knows how to buckle under and take it. I think he’s done a great job with the welfare bill."

In recent years, Asner had remained busy in his career, with roles on shows including Grace and Frankie, Modern Family, Cobra Kai, and Central Park.

When fellow Mary Tyler Moore actor Gavin MacLeod died in May, Asner poignantly paid tribute on Twitter.

"Tell the gang I will see them in a bit," Asner wrote.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.