Ed Asner Recalls Memories of His ‘Dull’ Date with Mary Tyler Moore

by Josh Lanier

Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore had one-of-a-kind comedic chemistry on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But that chemistry didn’t extend off-screen. Asner recently admitted that he and Moore went on one very boring date while the show was still on the air.

The Hollywood Reporter recently caught up with the 91-year-old acting legend and asked him to dispel or confirm some famous rumors. Most notably, the idea that he and the eponymous star of the show went on a date. Asner confirmed they did go out once, though it didn’t go well. He described the date as “dull.”

He said he believes the date took place sometime near the end of the run of The Mary Tyler Moore show. And even though it didn’t work out between them, they remained friends.

“She was a doll,” he said. Moore died of pneumonia in 2017. She was 80.

The chemistry between Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore was evident even during his audition, Asner recalled. Asner played Lou Grant, the gruff but loveable boss at the fictional news station WJM-TV. Mary Tyler Moore starred as Mary Richards, his spunky and optimist reporter. Their relationship was the heart of the show, as they each played the other’s foil perfectly.

The show was a critical and commercial hit. And Moore became a feminist icon as her character was a 30-something woman who was focused on her career rather than looking for a husband. Asner said he loved the role, but he didn’t foresee how pivotal the show would become.

“I liked what I read. I liked what the writers came down with,” he said. “But I had no idea about its longevity. … I didn’t know about it breaking barriers for single females — I didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know that they were oppressed! But it began to grow on me that we had a hot item here.”

Ed Asner Found News Fans with Two Big Hit Films

Few actors have a resume as impressive as Ed Asner. He starred in films with Elvis (Kid Galahad and Change of Habit) and John Wayne (El Dorado). Only he and Uzo Aduba have won an Emmy in the comedy and drama categories for the same character. Ed Asner won earned his for playing Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the spinoff, Lou Grant. He has seven Emmys in total, the second most for any actor. Mary Tyler Moore also has seven, but Cloris Leachman won nine.

But despite all of his success on TV, he said almost all of his fan mail now revolves around two movies he did much later in his career.

“My primary source of mail deals with one-syllable titles: Up and Elf. I love them both,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “Will Ferrell is a genius and the funniest man I came across since Ted Knight. Up was geniusly written.”

Asner plays Santa Claus in Elf and the curmudgeon Carl Fredricksen in the 2009 Pixar masterpiece Up.