Ed Asner, ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and Comedy Legend, Dies at 91

by Jon D. B.

From becoming the highest Emmy-winning male actor in history to giving Hollywood its best Santa, Ed Asner lived the most remarkable life. He leaves us Sunday at 91-years-old.

Ed Asner will always be my Santa Claus. Countless others feel the same the world over after Asner’s career-resurging role as ol’ Kris Kringle in Jon Favreau’s beloved Elf.

Today, however, we mourn his loss as Deadline confirms The Mary Tyler Moore Show icon has died. The legendary actor passed away “peacefully” Sunday morning. He was 91.

Ed Asner was born on November 15, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. He would grow up in Kansas City, Kansas with his Jewish immigrant parents, Lizzie and Morris David Asner. His mother hailed from Russia, while his father came to American from Lithuania – both to escape prejudice. In the states, the Asners would run a second-hand shop, as well as a junkyard.

Ed himself would grow up in their strictly Orthodox Jewish family with his given Hebrew name Yitzhak. As a teen, he would attend Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas, his home state cites. Then, he would go on to graduate from the University of Chicago.

After schooling, the icon would work on the General Motors assembly line. Also a veteran of service, Ed Asner served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He would perform plays within the military, with his shows touring Army camps in Europe during service. Eventually, this led him to his life’s calling – and an absolutely remarkable on-screen career.

The Incredible Career of Ed Asner

The accomplishments of Asner are many, and never to be understated. His work as The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s Lou Grant would solidify him as a household name throughout the 70s and 80s. As Lou, Asner would also lead a true rarity: a wildly successful dramatic spinoff of a sitcom.

The role of Lou Asner would win the actor a whopping 5 Emmys. In his lifetime, Ed Asner would amass an astounding 7 Emmy wins, making him the most awarded male performer in Emmy history. Just as incredible are his astounding 20 nominations for an Emmy Award. 17 of which were nods for a Primetime Emmy, and three for Daytime. His 7 wins tie him with Mary Tyler Moore, who also holds 7 Emmy wins.

From starring with John Wayne in 1966’s El Dorado as adversary Bart Jason, to Kevin Cosnter’s JFK in 1991, Asner would make as much of an impact in film as he did on television. After portraying a pitch-perfect, weary Santa Claus in 2003’s Elf alongside Will Ferrell, Asner would reach an entirely new generation of fans.

His heartbreaking-to-wildly-uplifting turn as Carl in Disney/Pixar’s Up would also solidify this in 2009. Most recently, fans fell for him all over again as part of Emmy-nominated Cobra-Kai.

In addition to his on-screen merits, Asner would serve as President of the Screen Actors Guild.

Rest in Peace Ed Asner.