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Ed Asner is an American actor best known as gruff-but-lovable newsman Lou Grant, who debuted on the television sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Ed Asner - Full Biography (44:57)
Valerie Harper - I, Rhoda (3:54)
Short, stocky character actor Ed Asner won fame playing Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", and made enemies off the screen with his fiery liberal politics while starring in his own spin-off.
During an era that showcased actresses in young wives and mother roles, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" revolutionized the image of women on TV.
Actress Valerie Harper ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda") discusses her new autobiography, "I, Rhoda." Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Click "Buy Now" to learn more about the book.
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Born in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 15, 1929, actor Ed Asner got his big break when he landed the part of gruff newsman Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. When that popular sitcom ended, Asner continued with the drama spin-off Lou Grant. He won Emmy Awards for both shows. Asner's voice also starred in many animated features, including Pixar's Up. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to '85.
"Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare."
Ed Asner was born Edward David Asner on November 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri. For more than a decade, Asner delighted television audiences with his portrayal of the tough, grumbling, but ultimately lovable newsman Lou Grant. This award-winning actor started on his chosen career path in college, appearing in productions at the University of Chicago.
After serving in the U.S. Army's Signal Corps in the early 1950s, Asner moved to New York to pursue an acting career. While he landed a few stage roles and made some TV appearances, his career didn't really take off until he landed a part on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The situation comedy followed the travails of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), a professional woman in her 30s working in TV news in Minneapolis. The show was groundbreaking for its time, showing an independent woman focused on her career. Asner played her boss, Lou Grant, a tough producer who, despite his hard facade, was more of a teddy bear than a grizzly bear. Audiences adored his portrayal of the character; reviewers and his peers did, too.
Asner was nominated for an Emmy Award seven times for his work on the show, winning the award three times—in 1971, 1972 and 1975. Though still popular, the series ended in 1977. During its final episode, most members of the TV station's news staff were fired after new management took over.
While The Mary Tyler Moore Show was finished, the character of Lou Grant lived on. He moved to Los Angeles to become the city editor for a Los Angeles newspaper on the dramatic series Lou Grant. Asner's character often went head-to-head with the newspaper's publisher, Margaret Pynchon (played by Nancy Marchand). While the show had its share of lighter moments, it took on many important issues, including gun control and child abuse.
In the later years of the series, Asner became known for speaking out on numerous social and political topics, especially in opposition to the U.S. involvement in Central America. The show was canceled in 1982, reportedly due to poor ratings, while some—including Asner—have speculated that the actor's activism may have influenced the decision to end the series.
While it may have lost some of its audience over the years, Lou Grant remained a critical success, winning the Emmy Award for outstanding drama series in both 1979 and 1980. Asner was nominated for outstanding lead actor in a drama series every year the show was on the air, taking home the Emmy Award twice—first in 1978 and again in 1980.
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