So THAT’S who Ed Asner was

This Has Gotta Stop

Ed Asner
“Voice Awards-2015

Apparently, I hadn’t raised my daughter correctly. When I told her that Ed Asner had died at the age of 91, there was no glint of recognition. She’s not familiar with WJM, the fictitious Twin Cities television station at the heart of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77).

Whereas I watched almost ALL of those MTM production shows, including the show’s spinoff, Lou Grant (1977-82).

But all was not lost. Apparently, in the online chat, folks were noting that Carl Fredericksen, Asner’s character in the Pixar animated film Up, was reunited with his beloved Ellie. My daughter has seen Up.

Then I asked her if she remembered the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode from 2013 called Monster’s Legacy. Asner played sports coach Martin Schultz. “Was it rural?” Yeah, that was the one. Spoiler: he was the bad guy.

Interesting that, prior to 1970, he often played the “heavy.” I recognized him from a LOT of shows before MTMS. He played five different characters on Route 66, three on The Untouchables, and many more. On IMDB, he had more than 400 acting credits.

He won seven Emmys, more than any other male actor. Three were for The Mary Tyler Show, two for Lou Grant, and two for single performances in the television miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976) and Roots (1977). I remember that his slave ship captain’s wig in Roots seemed ill-fitting.

Ed Asner was an unabashed political progressive. He was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1981 through 1985. Fittingly, he achieved a posthumous legal victory as a judge formally denied SAG-AFTRA Health Plan’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit.


My daughter wanted to know if I knew who Eric Clapton was. Well, of course. I have LOTS of his music by Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes, and lots of solo work. So naturally, she pointed out his new protest song “This Has Gotta Stop.”

“Last year’s ‘anti-lockdown song’ with Van Morrison, ‘Stand and Deliver,’ suggested ‘that governments scrambling to keep their populations alive are somehow stealing from them.’ The announcement of that song also led to the resurfacing of racist comments Clapton made in 1976, which he apologized for.

I can forgive the old bigotry, though my daughter is less generous. But we share a disdain for the anti-vax stuff. One hates when your heroes turn out to be clods.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

6 thoughts on “So THAT’S who Ed Asner was”

  1. Thanks for this generational perspective, Roger.

    Ed Asner also served for many years on the national Veterans for Peace board of directors. Reportedly, he was more than just a pretty face, and was a dedicated antiwar activist.

  2. I heard a lot of nice stories passed around about Mr. Asner after his death, he seems to have been a really good guy offscreen, which is always a relief to learn. Apparently he was nice to fans, nice to up-and-comers.

    He also played Santa Claus in “Elf” and I guess voiced a Santa character in a few other specials/animations.

  3. I had to sit through about 285 viewings of Elf during my time at a psych center in Elmira. I had committed myself for two weeks bc of suicidal thoughts. (I am very open about this stuff, no worries.)

    Our group were 80% men, mostly with that sad combination of aggression, depression, and what I have come to know as incel (involuntary celibate) traits. We had to sit THROUGH EVERY showing of Elf on TBS. The only alternative viewing was WWF Wrestling.

    I could work a jigsaw with my back turned to the screen for Elf, but the Wrestling sent me back to my room.

    Now, Ed Asner was fabulous, a committed leftie in the best sense, and the rare actor who, depending on the role, could play the heavy, do comedy, and bring a tear to the eye.

    And he never would have made anyone watch Elf if they didn’t want to. Of that I am sure!

  4. Disappointed in Clapton’s stance and support of the anti-vax movement with his song “This Has Gotta Stop.”

    He says he had a terrible reaction to his COVID vaccination. His response is to urge the public not to get vaccinated. This is not only dangerous, it makes no sense. Clapton was a drug addict for years before cleaning himself up and becoming a rehab advocate. The damage he did to his body is unknown. And the effect of any medication on him would be certainly much different than the average healthy human being.

    What he’s advocating now is dangerous and stupid.

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