Yitzhak Edward Asner (/ˈæsnər/; born November 15, 1929) is an American actor, voice actor and a former president of the Screen Actors Guild. He is primarily known for his role as Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same leading character in both a comedy and a drama. He played John Wayne's adversary Bart Jason in the 1966 Western El Dorado. He is also known for portraying Santa Claus in the comedy film Elf (2003) and its animated remake Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas (2014). He is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, having won seven.
In 2009, he starred as the voice of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's animated film Up, and made a guest appearance on CSI: NY in the episode "Yahrzeit". In early 2011, Asner returned to television as butcher Hank Greziak in Working Class, the first original sitcom on cable channel CMT. He starred in the Canadian television series Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, on CBC Television and has appeared in the 2013 television series The Glades. Asner guest-starred as Guy Redmayne, a homophobic billionaire who supports Alicia Florrick's campaign, in the sixth season of The Good Wife.
Asner in 1985
Yitzhak Edward Asner
November 15, 1929
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Education||Wyandotte High School|
|Alma mater||University of Chicago|
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor|
(m. 1959; div. 1988)
(m. 1998; div. 2015)
|President of the Screen Actors Guild|
November 3, 1981 – June 20, 1985
|Preceded by||William Schallert|
|Succeeded by||Patty Duke|
Asner was born on November 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri. His Jewish Russian-born parents, Lizzie (née Seliger), a housewife, and Morris David Asner, ran a second-hand shop. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family.
Asner attended Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas, and the University of Chicago. He worked on the assembly line for General Motors. Asner served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and appeared in plays that toured Army camps in Europe.
Following his military service, Asner joined the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, but left for New York City before members of that company regrouped as the Compass Players in the mid-1950s. He later made guest appearances with the successor to Compass, The Second City, and is considered part of The Second City extended family. In New York City, Asner played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in the Off-Broadway revival of Threepenny Opera, scored his first Broadway role in Face of a Hero alongside Jack Lemmon in 1960, and began to make inroads as a television actor, having made his TV debut in 1957 on Studio One. In two notable performances on television, Asner played Detective Sgt. Thomas Siroleo in the 1963 episode of The Outer Limits titled "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" and the reprehensible ex-premier Brynov in the 1965 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "The Exile." He made his film debut in 1962, in the Elvis Presley vehicle Kid Galahad.
Before he landed his role with Mary Tyler Moore, Asner guest-starred in television series including the syndicated crime drama Decoy, starring Beverly Garland, and the NBC western series The Outlaws and Route 66 in 1962 (the episode titled "Welcome to the Wedding") as Custody Officer Lincoln Peers. He was cast on Jack Lord's ABC drama series Stoney Burke and in the series finale of CBS's The Reporter, starring Harry Guardino. He also appeared on Mr. Novak, Mission: Impossible , The Outer Limits and The Invaders. Asner also played a minor character in children's television show W.I.T.C.H. (Napoleon – Cornelia's younger sister's cat).
Asner is best known for his character Lou Grant, who was first introduced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. In 1977, after the series, Asner's character was given his own show, Lou Grant (1977–82). In contrast to the Mary Tyler Moore series, a thirty-minute award-winning comedy about television journalism, the Lou Grant series was an hour-long award-winning drama about newspaper journalism. (For his role as Grant, Asner is one of only two actors to win an Emmy Award for a sitcom and a drama for the same role, with the second being Uzo Aduba.) In addition he made appearances as Lou Grant on two other shows: Rhoda and Roseanne. Other television series starring Asner in regular roles include Thunder Alley, The Bronx Zoo and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He also starred in one episode of the western series Dead Man's Gun (1997), as well as portraying art smuggler August March in an episode of the original Hawaii Five-O (1975) and reprised the role in the Hawaii Five-0 (2012) remake. He also appeared as a veteran streetwise officer in an episode of the 1973 version of Police Story.
Asner was acclaimed for his role in the ABC miniseries Roots, as Captain Davies, the morally conflicted captain of the Lord Ligonier, the slave ship that brought Kunta Kinte to America. The role earned Asner an Emmy Award, as did the similarly dark role of Axel Jordache in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). In contrast, he played a former pontiff in the lead role of Papa Giovanni: Ioannes XXIII (Pope John XXIII 2002), an Italian television film for RAI.
Asner has also had an extensive voice acting career. In 1987, he played the eponymous character, George F. Babbitt, in the L.A. Classic Theatre Works' radio theatre production of Sinclair Lewis's novel, Babbitt. He also provided the voices for Joshua on Joshua and the Battle of Jericho (1986) for Hanna-Barbera, J. Jonah Jameson on the 1990s animated television series Spider-Man (1994–98); Hoggish Greedly on Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990–95); Hudson on Gargoyles (1994–96); Jabba the Hutt on the radio version of Star Wars; Master Vrook from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel; Roland Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series (1992–94); Cosgrove on Freakazoid!; Ed Wuncler on The Boondocks (2005–14); and Granny Goodness in various DC Comics animated series. Asner provided the voice of famed American orator Edward Everett in the 2017 documentary film The Gettysburg Address.
Asner provided the voice of Carl Fredricksen in the Academy Award-winning Pixar film Up (2009). He received great critical praise for the role, with one critic going so far as to suggest "They should create a new category for this year's Academy Award for Best Vocal Acting in an Animated Film and name Asner as the first recipient."
Asner has won more Emmy Awards for performing than any other male actor (seven, including five for the role of Lou Grant). In 1996, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.
In July 2010, Asner completed recording sessions for Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders; a documentary on the 1974 DeFeo murders in Amityville, New York. Asner served as the narrator for the film, which covers a forensic analysis of the murders, the trial in which 23-year-old DeFeo son Ronald DeFeo Jr., was convicted of the killings, and the subsequent "haunting" story which is revealed to be a hoax. Also in 2010, Asner played the title role in FDR, a stage production about the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he has subsequently continued to tour the play throughout the country. In January 2011, Asner took a supporting role on CMT's first original sitcom Working Class. He made an appearance in the independent comedy feature Not Another B Movie, and had a small but pivotal role as billionaire Warren Buffett in HBO's economic drama Too Big to Fail (2011).
Asner has also provided voice-over narration for many documentaries and films of social activism, including Tiger by the Tail, a documentary film detailing the efforts of the Campaign to Keep GM Van Nuys Open and the chair of the organization, Eric Mann, to keep General Motors' Van Nuys Assembly plant running. He has also recorded for a public radio show and podcast, Playing On Air, appearing in Warren Leight’s The Final Interrogation of Ceaucescu's Dog with Jesse Eisenberg, and Mike Reiss’s New York Story. Asner was the voice-over narrator for the 2016 documentary Behind the Fear: The Hidden Story of HIV, directed by Nicole Zwiren, a controversial study on the AIDS debate.
Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, in which capacity during the 1980s he opposed US policy in Central America, working closely with the Alliance for Survival. He played a prominent role in the 1980 SAG strike. He has also been active in a variety of other causes, such as the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the movement to establish California One Care, single-payer health care in California, for which he created a television advertisement. He endorsed Barack Obama during the United States presidential election, 2008. He was formerly a member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and is a member of DSOC's successor, the Democratic Socialists of America.
The sudden cancellation of Lou Grant in 1982 was the subject of much controversy. The show had high ratings—the level of which should have justified its ongoing presence in primetime (it was in the ACNielsen top ten throughout its final month on the air). However, the CBS television network declined to renew it. It has been Asner's consistent position that his left-wing political views, as well as the publicity surrounding them, were the actual root causes for the show's cancellation.
Asner endorsed Democratic candidate Marcy Winograd in the 2011 California 36th Congressional district special election.
In 2012, Asner came under fire for narrating an animation promotional video for the California Federation of Teachers, Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale.
From 2011 to 2015, Asner worked with filmmaker Nicole Zwiren on the feature-length documentary Behind the Fear which promotes HIV/AIDS denialism. The film was released in 2016 with Asner as the narrator.
Asner is on the Entertainment Board of Directors for The Survivor Mitzvah Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing direct emergency aid to elderly and impoverished Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.
He is a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a free speech organization that is dedicated to protecting comic book creators and retailers from prosecutions based on content. He serves as an advisor to the Rosenberg Fund for Children, an organization founded by the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, which provides benefits for the children of political activists, and as a board member for the wildlife conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife. Asner also sits on the advisory board for Exceptional Minds, a non-profit school and a computer animation studio for young adults on the autism spectrum.
Asner is also a member of the Honorary Board of Directors for the homeless respite service center Fresh Start WC in Walnut Creek, California.
Asner is a supporter of Humane Borders, an organization based in Tucson, Arizona, which maintains water stations in the Sonoran desert for use by undocumented migrants, with the goal of preventing deaths by dehydration and exposure. He was the master of ceremonies at that organization's volunteer dinner in fall 2017.
Asner signed a statement released by the organization 9/11 Truth in 2004 that calls for a new investigation into the September 11 attacks. A brief summary of the reasons for his position appears in a video available on YouTube. Asner confirmed his support for the statement in 2009. Asner also narrated the documentary film The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror.
Asner served as the spokesman for 2004 Racism Watch. In April 2004, he wrote an open letter to "peace and justice leaders" encouraging them to demand "full 9-11 truth" through the organization 9-11 Visibility Project. In 2011, Asner hosted the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth documentary on the collapse of 7 World Trade Center that concludes that the building was taken down by controlled demolition.
On March 30, 2012, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) completed a merger of equals, forming a new union SAG-AFTRA. Asner was adamantly opposed to such a merger, arguing that the planned merger would destroy the SAG's health plan and disempower actors. Asner and a group of fellow actors and voice-actors, including Martin Sheen and Ed Harris, filed (but later dropped) a lawsuit against SAG president Ken Howard and several SAG vice presidents, seeking to have the merger overturned, and the two unions separated to their pre-merger organizations. The lawsuit was formally dismissed on May 22, 2012.
Asner was married to Nancy Sykes from 1959 to 1988. They have three children: twins Matthew and Liza, and Kate. In 1987, he had a son named Charles with Carol Jean Vogelman. Asner is a parent and a grandparent of a child with autism and is deeply involved with the autism nonprofit Autism Speaks. He served on the advisory board of a suburban Chicago firm that employs persons with autistic spectrum disorders to test and program software.
In 2006 at age 90, she appeared on the Jay Leno Show where she won the segment, 'Does This Impress Ed Asner?'
Fett ... took part in the 'Does This Impress Ed Asner?' segment.
A Christmas Carol is a 1997 American animated musical film version of the book of the same name by Charles Dickens. It features eight new songs and a voice line-up including Tim Curry, Whoopi Goldberg, Ed Asner, and Michael York.Cracked Up
Cracked Up is a 1987 American TV film starring Ed Asner.
It was one of the first films about the crack cocaine epidemic.Cruel Doubt
Cruel Doubt is a 1992 miniseries starring Blythe Danner and Matt McGrath, as well as Danner's daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow. The film was broadcast in two parts on NBC in the United States and on CTV in Canada on May 17 and May 19, 1992.
Ed Asner, Adam Baldwin and Dennis Farina also star.
The miniseries is based on the 1991 true crime book Cruel Doubt by Joe McGinniss, which documents the 1988 murder of Lieth Von Stein by his stepson, Chris Pritchard, and two friends, James Upchurch and Gerald Neal Henderson.Dead to Me (TV series)
Dead to Me is an upcoming American dark comedy web television series created by Liz Feldman that is set to premiere on Netflix. The series will star Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini and be executive produced by Feldman, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Jessica Elbaum.Ed Asner filmography
The following is the complete filmography of American actor Ed Asner.Exterminator!
Exterminator! is a short story collection written by William S. Burroughs and first published in 1973. Early editions label the book a novel. It is not to be confused with The Exterminator, another collection of stories Burroughs published in 1960 in collaboration with Brion Gysin.
The collection contains a number of Burroughs' most popular short pieces, such as "Twilight's Last Gleamings", "The Discipline of DE", "Wind Die, You Die, We Die", "Ali's Smile", and "The Coming of the Purple Better One". Some of the stories, such as "Ali's Smile", had previously been published in other books and magazines such as Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Evergreen Review, and Esquire.
The title story is about an insect exterminator, a job Burroughs himself once held. Certain aspects of this story were used in the film version of Naked Lunch, with the main character William Lee (a portrayal of Burroughs) holding the same job at the film's beginning.
In the 1980s, actor Ed Asner recorded a spoken word adaptation of "Wind Die. You Die. We Die", while Burroughs and Kurt Cobain recorded a musical version of one of the stories as The "Priest" They Called Him.
Some of the stories were initially published elsewhere, such as "Ali's Smile", which was also later included in Ali's Smile/Naked Scientology. A different story entitled "Twilight's Last Gleamings" appears in the later collection, Interzone.Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama is an award presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). This Golden Globe Award honors the best performance by an actor in a drama television series. It was first awarded at the 19th Golden Globe Awards on March 5, 1962 to John Charles Daly and Bob Newhart under the title "Best TV Star – Male". In 1969, the award was presented under the new title "Best TV Actor – Drama", and its current title has been used since 1980. The nominees for the award have been announced annually since 1963.
Richard Madden is the current recipient of the award for his portrayal of Sergeant David Budd in Bodyguard. Ed Asner, John Forsythe, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie and Telly Savalas have won the most awards in this category, each winning twice. Peter Falk and Tom Selleck have both been nominated seven times each, for their respective roles on Columbo and Magnum, P.I..Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
The Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film is an award presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting role on a television series, miniseries or motion picture made for television for the calendar year. The award was first presented at the 28th Golden Globe Awards on February 5, 1971 to James Brolin for his role on Marcus Welby, M.D.. It was presented under the title Best Supporting Actor – Television Series before changing to its current title in 1980.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 45 actors. Alexander Skarsgård is the current recipient of the award for his portrayal of Perry Wright on Big Little Lies. Ed Asner has won the most awards in this category, winning three times. Sean Hayes and Jeremy Piven have each been nominated for the award on six occasions, the most within the category.Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?
"Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?" is the third episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 24, 1999. In the episode, Homer becomes a food critic for a Springfield newspaper and ends up annoying the restaurant owners of Springfield after he makes negative reviews just to be mean, advice he took from fellow critics. Springfield's restaurant owners then attempt to kill Homer by feeding him a poisoned éclair. American actor Ed Asner guest starred in the episode as the newspaper editor that hires Homer. The episode has received generally mixed reviews from television critics since airing.I Know That Voice
I Know That Voice is a documentary film about American voice acting. It premiered on November 6, 2013, at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre. It is narrated by John DiMaggio, the voice of Bender on Futurama and Jake on Adventure Time, and stars DiMaggio and many other voice actors, including Billy West, Tara Strong, Tom Kenny, Grey DeLisle, June Foray, Rachael MacFarlane, Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Robin Atkin Downes, and Pamela Adlon.Lou Grant (TV series)
Lou Grant is an American drama television series starring Ed Asner in the title role as a newspaper editor that aired on CBS from September 20, 1977, to September 13, 1982. The series was the third spin-off of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lou Grant was created by The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, along with Gene Reynolds.
Lou Grant won 13 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Drama Series". Asner won the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" in 1978 and 1980. In doing so, he became the first person to win an Emmy Award for both "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" and "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" for portraying the same character. Lou Grant also won two Golden Globe Awards, a Peabody Award, an Eddie Award, three awards from the Directors Guild of America and two Humanitas Prizes.One If by Clam, Two If by Sea
"One If by Clam, Two If by Sea" is the fourth episode of the third season of the animated comedy series Family Guy, another episode produced for Season 2. It originally aired on Fox on August 1, 2001. The plot features The Drunken Clam, a bar, being destroyed by a hurricane, and then refurbished by a group of wealthy Englishmen who turn the bar into a dignified drinking venue. Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire then attempt to bring back the Drunken Clam, and send the new owner back to the United Kingdom.
The episode was written by Jim Bernstein and Michael Shipley and directed by Dan Povenmire. The episode featured guest performances by Ed Asner, Tara Strong, Hugh Laurie and Alan Shearman, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series.Playwrights Theatre Club
The Playwright's Theatre Club was founded in Chicago, in 1953, by a group of young theater pioneers — Paul Sills, David Shepherd and Eugene Troobnick. Other members and participants included Elaine May, Sheldon Patinkin, Rolf Forsberg, Mike Nichols, Joyce Piven, Josephine Forsberg, Ed Asner, Barbara Harris, and many more. The theatre was noted for its original treatment of classic plays as well as original works.
The Playwright's Theatre Club led to the creation of The Compass Players and later The Second City.Pressin' On
Pressin' On is the fifteenth studio album by Billy Preston, released in 1982. It was his final album released on Motown Records, although he would briefly return to the label in 1986 to record one single ("Since I Held You Close"). The song "I'm Never Gonna Say Goodbye" was used for the Ed Asner/Jodie Foster film O'Hara's Wife. Norman Seeff was the photographer for the album's cover.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Beginning with the 18th Primetime Emmy Awards, leading actors in drama have competed alone. However, these dramatic performances included actors from miniseries, telefilms, and guest performers competing against main cast competitors. Such instances are marked below:
# – Indicates a performance in a Miniseries or Television film, before the category's creation.
§ – Indicates a performance as a guest performer, before the category's creation.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. In early Primetime Emmy Award ceremonies, the supporting categories were not always genre, or even gender, specific. Beginning with the 22nd Primetime Emmy Awards, supporting actors in comedy have competed alone. However, these comedic performances often included actors from miniseries, telefilms, and guest performers competing against main cast competitors. Such instances are marked below:
# – Indicates a performance in a Miniseries or Television film, prior to the category's creation.
§ – Indicates a performance as a guest performer, prior to the category's creation.The Doomsday Flight
The Doomsday Flight is a 1966 television-thriller film written by Rod Serling and directed by William Graham. The cast includes Jack Lord, Edmond O'Brien, Van Johnson, Katherine Crawford, John Saxon, Richard Carlson and Ed Asner.The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You
The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You is a Canadian children's animated short film directed by Gerald Potterton as part of The Real Story of... / Favorite Songs animated anthology series. The short was produced by Cinar and France Animation in association with Crayon Animation and Western Publishing and was released in January 1992 in the United States. It also features the voices of Ed Asner and Roger Daltrey.