Comedy Icon Ed Asner Revealed His Secret To Success Before His Death

by Joe Rutland

People know Ed Asner, who died on Sunday, as a comedic actor. He did more than comedy in his career. What was his secret to success?

Asner, who was 91 years old, answered that question during a 2020 interview with United Kingdom paper Daily Mail.

“I want to entertain myself,” he said. “I don’t care about you!”

Ed Asner added, “It is going to be boring otherwise.”

Ed Asner Admitted That He Did Not ‘Want To Be Last In The Class’

What drove him to be truly funny in roles like Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”?

“I do not want to be last in the class,” he said. “You understand that?” Ed Asner wasn’t last in the class at all. With more than 300 on-screen credits of TV and film work to his name, Asner was the most honored male performer in Primetime Emmy Awards history.

He won seven for his work on the Moore show, “Lou Grant,” and in the miniseries “Roots” and “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

Another thing: Asner was the first actor to win Emmys for playing the same character, Lou Grant, in a comedy and drama.

Stage Work Gave Veteran Actor A Different Type of Thrill

But he said doing work on stage provided him with a lot of joy. “I do not necessarily see it on screen, because I am not seeing it on screen when I am doing it,” Asner said. “But what I get is what I take from the audiences when I perform on stage. I am not saying the stage is superior, it is that you have to wait for the results.”

What was the favorite role Ed Asner played in his career? He could not definitively pick one.

“I am proud of Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant, ‘Elf’ and ‘Up’ and all the ones in between that kept me going and kept me paid,” he said. “And kept encouraging me enough to go with the next one which may have been a turning point.”

In a recent interview, actress Maureen McCormick of “The Brady Bunch” spoke fondly of Asner with The Hollywood Reporter. She said he inspired her love of acting and later encouraged her to keep going and pursuing roles.

“It’s because of Ed that I even wanted to get into this business — seeing him and everyone on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’,” McCormick said. “When I was growing up, I would sit with my family and watch every episode of it. I never dreamed that I would be able to work with him or know him, but I just fell in love with him and his character.”

People all over the spectrum, from fellow actors to everyday citizens, will never forget Ed Asner.