Born: November 15, 1929
Date of Birth: November 15, 1929
Edward Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, the only one in his neighborhood. He attended Wyandotte High School in Missouri, where he played championship football, organized a top-notch basketball team that toured Europe, and was an announcer for the school's radio station. Ed moved to Chicago in the 1950s and attended The University of Chicago before moving to New York City and starring in the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera.
His first onscreen role was in the television series Studio One, which he followed with shows such as Naked City, The Untouchables, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Outer Limits, and Hawaii Five-O. Ed's big break came in 1970 when he landed the role of Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore show, and in 1977 he starred in its dramatic spin-off series Lou Grant. He is the only actor to ever win an Emmy award for playing the same character in both a comedy and a drama.
A passionate member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he became a labor rights activist during the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike, which delayed the 1980-1981 television season. His support of the actors led to his becoming SAG president in 1981. Ed took his political activism further, participating in a fundraiser to send medical aid to El Salvador rebels who were fighting against the Ronald Reagan-supported regime. He wrote a letter on behalf of the organization saying "My name is Ed Asner. I play Lou Grant on television," and conservative SAG members such as Charlton Heston were outraged. Lou Grant was canceled in 1982 despite high ratings, and Asner insisted it was due to his political leanings.
Despite the controversy, Ed continued to land a number of roles. Notable television guest appearances include The X Files, Roseanne, The Practice and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and film appearances have included JFK (1991), The Animal (2001), and Elf (2003). He also also done extensive voice work for shows such as Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Animaniacs and Family Guy, in addition to lending his voice to the motion picture Up (2009).
Ed was married to film crew member Nancy Sykes from 1959 to 1988, and they have three children named Matthew, Liza, and Kate. He also has a son named Charles from a previous relationship. In 1998 he married producer Cindy Gilmore, who filed for divorce in 2007.
Over the course of his career, Ed has won many awards, including five Golden Globes - three for Lou Grant, one for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and one for the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man. In addition, he won seven Emmy Awards and most recently, in 2017, he won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series in the series Forgive Me. He was also awarded a 2002 Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.