Veteran TV actor Ed Asner, best known for playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and winner of a record-setting seven Emmy awards, has died at the age of 91.
The news was confirmed by Asner’s family on Twitter: “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.”
A theater actor who first guest-starred on The Outer Limits, Mission: Impossible and Route 66, Asner landed the role of irritable TV news director Lou Grant on CBS’ The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which debuted in 1970. Asner’s gruff persona was the perfect counterweight to star Mary Tyler Moore’s sunny disposition, and the show turned out to be a hit, running for seven seasons and becoming one of the most acclaimed TV series of all time. Asner won three consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his work as Lou Grant in 1971-73.
After Mary Tyler Moore went off the air, Asner reprised his role on the CBS spinoff Lou Grant, a drama series that saw Grant working as the city editor of a Los Angeles newspaper. Lou Grant had a healthy five-season run from 1977 to 1982, and Asner was nominated five times for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, winning twice.
Asner also picked up a pair of Emmys for his roles in the miniseries Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man, making him the male actor with the most Emmy wins ever with a total of seven. He continued acting on TV through the ’80s and ’90s, starring as a school principal in NBC’s The Bronx Zoo and headlining the ABC sitcom Thunder Alley. Asner didn’t slow down in his later years, either, putting in guest appearances on ER, The X-Files, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hawaii Five-0 (where he reprised a role from the original series), The Good Wife, Modern Family and, most recently, the final season of Grace & Frankie.