Ed Asner, TV’s Gruff But Lovable ‘Lou Grant,’ Mourned

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“You know what? You’ve got spunk… I hate spunk…”

Ed Asner, who won the most performance awards in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, died today (August 29, 2021). The news of the TV star’s passing at age 91 was announced by his publicist.

Asner’s Twitter account posted, “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 earned three Primetime Emmy Awards for his role as the gruff newsman Lou Grant on the The Mary Tyler Moore Show, including two for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy in each of the show’s first two seasons. He later won two Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the program, Lou Grant, as well as for roles in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man, and Roots.

In 2019, Asner, born Nov. 15, 1929, was honored with a celebrity roast for his 90th birthday. “90 years. A milestone I never thought I would make,” he said at the time. “You know what they say… 90 is the new 80. I have seen so much in my life. Because of some very lucky breaks I was able to create a career for myself that I am immensely proud of. From JJ Peachum in Three Penny Opera, to Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant, to the latest shows that I have been lucky enough to be cast in.”

Watch Grant and Moore during MTM’s job interview. “You know what? You’ve got spunk… I hate spunk…”

When The Mary Tyler Moore Show debuted on CBS in September 1970, he starred alongside Moore, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight and Valerie Harper.

Asner’s passing leaves the ageless White as the only remaining member of the core cast. MacLeod passed earlier this year at age 90. When MacLeod died, Asner wrote, “My heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator. I will see you in a bit Gavin. Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now.” White turned 99 last Jan. 17.

Harper died at age 80 in 2019. Moore died in 2017, also at 80. Knight died in 1986 at just 62 years of age.

The series’ co-creator and producer, James L. Brooks, told Variety, “He was a beautiful actor. He was an able team player. He was just as deeply a good guy as everybody sensed he was.”

Watch a legendary scene featuring the full cast

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