Over the course of his seventy-plus year career, Ed Asner has simultaneously established himself as one of the most legendary actors alive while championing social and charitable causes. Ed was born in Kansas City, Missouri, attended the University of Chicago, and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, appearing in plays put on for the troops as they toured around Europe.
After the war, Asner joined the Playwrights Theatre Company in Chicago, but left for New York City before members of that company regrouped as the Compass Players in the mid-1950s, a company that included Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Sheldon Patinkin, Rolf Forsberg, Mike Nichols, Joyce Piven, Josephine Forsberg, Barbara Harris, and Del Close and eventually developed into The Compass Theatre then Second City.
Asner came back to guest star frequently on Second City’s stage, but also developed his acting career by appearing in plays and later unforgettable characters in influential television shows that include The Untouchables, playing Lou Grant in both the long-running Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant, as slave-ship captain Thomas Davies in Roots, Santa Clause in Elf, Carl Fredrickson in the animated film Up and most recently he can be seen in Netflix new series Dead to Me. For the past several years he has been performing one-man shows all over the country for several years including “A Man and his Prostate” written by Ed Weinberger.
Ed Asner and Co-Writer Ed Weinberger’s ‘s book, The Grouchy Historian is an unabashedly biased, deeply researched book that refutes the right-wing argument that the framers of the U.S. Constitution favored small government, limited taxation, and minimal regulation.
Among Asner’s numerous awards and nominations were five Golden Globe Awards, seven Emmys and a SAG Life Achievement Award. His legacy of service includes two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild and The Ed Asner Family Center whose mission is to promote self-confidence in differently-abled individuals and bring balance and wellness to those individuals and their families.
Ed is a beloved member of the improvisation community having worked with Paul Sills, David Shepherd and Rolf Forsberg. His prolific career as an actor and activist is a legacy to the yes and philosophy of improvisation.
You might want to listen to my fascinating discussions with the amazing Carol Sills and Michael Golding.