Ed Asner: An extraordinary life, from comedy to drama, and on screen to off

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(CNN)Ed Asner played Lou Grant for a twelve years, archetypal successful a beloved sitcom ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and past an episodic play ("Lou Grant"). But if you lone subordinate the histrion and activistic with that character, you've conscionable scratched the aboveground of an bonzer beingness and career.

Nominated for 17 Emmy awards, and the victor of seven, Asner -- who has died astatine the property of 91 -- achieved TV immortality arsenic the cranky quality manager astatine a Minneapolis TV presumption successful the 1970s comedy, who could admit spunk successful his caller employee, Mary Richards, and famously hated it. In an all-but-unprecedented move, helium past moved to go the exertion of a metropolitan newspaper, shifting into a melodramatic mounting that addressed large issues not agelong aft "All the President's Men" had romanticized paper enactment astatine the movies.

Tough but kind-hearted underneath the gruff exterior, Grant was the relation of a beingness for an histrion who hardly seemed destined for leading-man status, arsenic Asner freely acknowledged successful interviews. Before "Mary Tyler Moore" helium chiefly appeared connected TV shows successful an assortment of melodramatic and tough-guy roles, adjacent playing the villain other John Wayne and Robert Mitchum successful the occidental "El Dorado."

    Ed Asner's bonzer  life

    Beyond Lou Grant, though, Asner carved retired a splendid vocation wrong the benignant of supporting roles that preceded that episodic breakthrough. That included Emmy-winning parts successful 2 of the astir fashionable miniseries of each time: "Rich Man, Poor Man," playing the brutal, broken-down migrant begetter of the cardinal brothers; and "Roots," arsenic the morally conflicted ship's skipper who brought slaves to America.

      Asner worked constantly, including respective projects that volition debut aft his death. He remained overmuch successful request for dependable work, astir notably successful Pixar's animated classical "Up" arsenic the grieving balloon salesman who embarks connected a late-in-life adventure, but besides successful a assortment of different bid and movies, from playing Santa Claus successful "Elf" to providing the dependable of paper exertion J. Jonah Jameson successful "Spider-Man: The Animated Series."

      Asner's activities hardly ended there. He served 2 presumption arsenic president of the Screen Actors Guild and remained outspoken astir its affairs, past twelvemonth joining successful a suit over cuts to the organization's healthcare program that would interaction older members. His activism included specified issues arsenic weapon control, the Equal Rights Amendment and superior punishment, and Asner aboriginal said that speaking retired astir El Salvador successful the 1980s hastened the cancellation of "Lou Grant" by CBS.

      In a 2003 interview, Asner acknowledged that taking specified nationalist stances mightiness not beryllium for each actors. "You person to marque a choice," helium said. "If you privation to get successful trouble, past you'll unfastened your mouth. ... If you deliberation you tin bash greater bully by your acting, past enactment that way. If you consciousness that you tin buttress your acting by being a citizen, past you'll bash it. I deliberation it's a hard determination to make."

        Asner was thoughtful and honorable astir aging successful his aboriginal years, tweeting erstwhile "Mary Tyler Moore" co-star Gavin McLeod died earlier this year, "I volition spot you successful a spot Gavin. Tell the pack I volition spot them successful a bit." He added to Betty White, whose scenes with Asner stay among the show's astir memorable, "Betty! It's conscionable you and maine now."

        Asner's decease produced an outpouring of tributes for his enactment some connected surface and off, lauding his endowment arsenic good arsenic his humanity. Not surprisingly, much than a fewer played disconnected the enactment that Asner himself made 1 for the ages: He had spunk.

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