ASNER, EDWARD (1929– ), U.S. actor. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, to an Orthodox Jewish family, Asner first gained attention as the gruff but gentle television station manager Lou Grant on the long-running sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77). A spin-off from this successful production provided Asner with his own star vehicle, the drama series Lou Grant (1977–82).
Asner has received six Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards for his tv performances on Lou Grant; Roots; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; and Rich Man, Poor Man. To date, Asner is the only actor to win Emmys for playing the same character (Lou Grant) in both a comedy and a drama series. A long-time political activist considered left of center, Asner accused the cbs network of canceling his show over his publicized disapproval of U.S. involvement in Central America. But he continued to prosper professionally after Lou Grant. Asner starred in many tv movies, had guest and repeat roles in a wide variety of tv dramas and comedies, and starred in two regular series, the sitcom Off the Rack and the drama The Bronx Zoo. He also appeared in the weekly sitcoms Hearts Afire and Thunder Alley.
In 1981 he had a starring role in the film Fort Apache, The Bronx. Other feature films include O'Hara's Wife (1982); Daniel (1983); jfk (1991); The Golem (1995); The Fanatics (1997); The Bachelor (1999); Above Suspicion (2000); Bring Him Home (2000); Donzi: The Legend (2001); Academy Boyz (2001); The Commission (2003); Missing Brendan (2003); and Elf (2003). In addition, Asner has lent his voice to a myriad of animated film and television characters.
Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (1981–85). In 1996 he was inducted into the tv Academy Hall of Fame, and in 2002 he was awarded the Life Achievement Award by the Screen Actors Guild.
[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]