Ed Asner, a seven-time Emmy winner who starred as gruff but loveable newsman Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later Lou Grant, died Sunday. He was 91.
“We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head – Goodnight dad. We love you,” Asner’s family said in a statement on the actor’s official Twitter account.
Asner’s publicist told The Hollywood Reporter the beloved actor died of natural causes at his home in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri in November 1929. He attended the University of Chicago, and later served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and appeared in plays at Army camps.
After leaving the military, Asner helped found the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago. He would eventually move to New York City and land roles on Broadway.
After launching a Hollywood career, he had more than 300 acting credits and continued to work throughout his 70s and 80s.
Asner won three best supporting actor Emmy Awards for his work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and two best actor awards for Lou Grant. He also took home Emmys for his roles in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.
More recently, he appeared in a string of television series, including Forgive Me, Grace & Frankie, The Good Wife, and Dead to Me. In 2003, he played Santa Claus in Will Ferrell’s hit comedy film Elf and had a voice role in Pixar’s Up.
Asner was also a philanthropist. He established the Ed Asner Family Center in Los Angeles, dedicated to promoting self-confidence and bringing balance to the disabled and their families.
The center posted a tribute to Asner Sunday on Twitter, writing: “Today we mourn the loss of a legend who had a heart of gold. Our beloved namesake, Ed Asner. Many knew him as the gruff comedian with impeccable timing, but for us he was a father, grandfather, friend and champion.”