Hollywood is mourning the loss of Ed Asner on Sunday, reflecting on a career that not only left a mark in television and animation but also in the history of Hollywood labor.
In his illustrious career, Asner won seven Emmys, five of them for his iconic performance as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the spinoff “Lou Grant.” For younger fans, he was known for playing the voices of Hudson on the Disney cult classic “Gargoyles” and Carl Fredricksen in the Pixar Oscar winner “Up,” as well as Santa Claus in the Will Ferrell comedy “Elf” and other Christmas movies and specials.
But along with this, Asner served as president of the Screen Actors Guild during its pivotal strike in 1980, which led to a dramatic 32% increase in minimum salaries. His outspoken activism as a democratic socialist led to clashes with right-wing actors in Hollywood, including Charlton Heston, who once called him “communist swine.”
In his tribute to Asner, Jon Cryer quoted a very famous line Asner’s Lou Grant said to Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”: “Hey, you’ve got spunk! I hate spunk.” Cryer added, “A great performer and a great guy. Working with him and learning from him was an honor.”
“His life was charity. His commitment to reform, to the betterment of society and a better life for everybody,” Keith Olbermann said. “That series, ‘Lou Grant,’wasn’t just good newspaper drama. Each “news story” they wove into the plot was one that didn’t get enough attention in real life.”
“Ed Asner won seven Emmys, helped organize a labor strike, played Santa Claus, voiced a Jedi, and that’s maybe like 2% of the things he did. Absolute legend,” tweeted writer Mike Drucker.
Disney fans and actors commemorated Asner’s legacy by sharing scenes from “Up,” including the ending where Asner’s Carl bestows a treasured heirloom from his late wife to his young companion, Russell. Asner’s final role was reprising Carl in “Dug Days,” a series of “Up” shorts featuring Carl’s dog, Dug, that is set to be released this Wednesday.
“He was a Legend, a beautiful soul and a truly brilliant actor. Love you sir!” tweeted “Frozen” star Josh Gad, whom Asner worked with on the Apple TV+ show “Central Park.” “We will miss down here, but smiling that you are have fittingly gone Up.”
Read more tweets commemorating Asner below.