Eddie Asner (; November 15, 1929 – August 29, 2021) was an American actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild. He is best remembered for portraying Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same character in both a comedy and a drama. Asner is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, having won seven – five for portraying Lou Grant (three as Supporting Actor in a Comedy Television Series on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and two as Lead Actor in a Dramatic Television Series on spin-off Lou Grant). His other Emmys were for performances in two television miniseries: Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), for which he won the Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Performance in a television series award, and Roots (1977), for which he won the Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a television series award.Asner also played John Wayne's adversary Bart Jason in the 1966 Western El Dorado. He played Santa Claus in several films, including in 2003's Elf. In 2007, he voiced the main villain Krad in Christmas Is Here Again. In 2009, he voiced Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's animated film Up and made a guest appearance on CSI: NY in the episode "Yahrzeit". In early 2011, Asner returned to television as butcher Hank Greziak in Working Class, the first original sitcom on cable channel CMT. He starred in Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, on CBC Television and appeared in The Glades. Asner guest-starred as Guy Redmayne in the sixth season of The Good Wife. He had a guest role in Cobra Kai, appearing as Sid Weinberg in seasons one and three. In 2020, he had a recurring role as James Staghorne Sr. on Briarpatch.
Asner was married to Nancy Lou Sykes from 1959 to 1988. They had three children, twins Matthew and Liza, and Kate. In 1987, he had a son named Charles with Carol Jean Vogelman. Asner was a parent and a grandparent to autistic children and was involved with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Autism Speaks. He also served as a board member and adviser for Aspiritech, a nonprofit organization that trains high-functioning autistic persons to test software and perform quality-assurance services for companies.Asner became engaged to producer Cindy Gilmore in 1991. They married on August 2, 1998. Gilmore filed for legal separation on November 7, 2007. Asner filed for divorce in 2015.
Eddie Asner was born on November 15, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. His Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant parents, Lizzie (née Seliger; 1885–1967, from Odessa, Ukraine), a housewife, and Morris David Asner (1877–1957, from Lithuania (Vilna Governorate or Grodno Governorate), ran a second-hand shop and junkyard. The youngest of five children, his four older siblings were: Ben J. Asner (1915–1986), Eve Asner (1916–2014), Esther Edelman (1919–2014) and Labe Asner (1923–2017). He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family and given the Hebrew name Yitzhak.Asner attended Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas, and the University of Chicago. He studied journalism in Chicago until a professor advised him there was little money to be made in the profession. He had been working in a steel mill, but he quickly switched to drama, debuting as the martyred Thomas Becket in a campus production of T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral. He eventually dropped out of school, going to work as a taxi driver, worked on the assembly line for General Motors, and other odd jobs before being drafted in the military in 1951.Asner served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1951 to 1953 and appeared in plays that toured Army bases in Europe.
star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, Paul Robeson Award, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film