Ed Asner is Juggernaut of convictions, ideas and talent that never slows down

By George Khoury

He is the only actor to win Emmy awards for both Comedy (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Drama (Lou Grant) while playing the same warm and loveable supportive character.

Asner could have taken his Emmys, continued to act on stage, do voice over work, star in television shows or continue in films but he didn’t. Over the years he has also added “Activist” to his distinguished resume. His critics have called him a Socialist and it is alleged that he is a member of Democratic Socialists of America. He has taken unpopular positions against racism, nuclear power and has his own opinion about 9/11 and what took down Building 7.

“When you think about 9/11, no one was punished. No one was fired, lost their job or anything like that. We don’t want answers. We have become what I call, American Sheeple,” he said during our recent interview. He has been affiliated with a group of architects who have questioned why Building 7 went down without being damaged. “People want to believe in the American Myth that we would not participate in a 9/11 act.”

Asner has paid a high price for speaking out. While Lou Grant was a successful show, he signed a letter attempting to raise money for medical supplies for the rebels fighting in El Salvador. The issue was that the rebels were fighting against a US-backed but corrupt and oppressive regime. A few advertisers cancelled their contracts and within two weeks CBS cancelled the show. “I took that as a personal “_ _ _ _ you” from the CBS Chairman.”

Asner speaks in a colorful and raw style. Granted (what?) the Lou Grant role was rough around the edges and the real Asner speaks in a salty and direct manner that is refreshing. He does not mask or cloud his ideas. You might not like his politics but it is compelling to hear his logic and ideas.

Asner was born November 15, 1929 in Kansas City to an Orthodox Jewish family. The family ran what is now considered a Thrift store. He attended the University of Chicago. Later he served with the Army Signal Corps and appeared in touring plays. During the 1950s and 1960s Asner appeared in almost every television show. He has played police officers, a slave catcher in Roots, and even Pope John XXIII. By the way he has also played Santa Claus five times and is active in Jewish causes. Last year he returned to Kansas City to perform his one-man show, Asner as FDR for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.

As President of Screen Actors Guild, he was instrumental in the 1980 SAG strike. He has lent his voice and image for prison reform, and single-payer health care in California. He is a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an advisor for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. He has sought and fought for new investigations into 9/11.

He is a parent and grandparent of a child with autism and is involved with Autism Speaks. He is a member and active member in organizations too numerous to cite.

Asner is an intellectual tiger who will not go gently into that good sleep. Long may your banner wave Ed!

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