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Actor Ed Asner, voice of Carl Fredricksen from ‘Up’, dies at 91

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Aug 29 (Reuters) – Ed Asner, who played a gruff newsman in the classic TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s and had a key voice role in Up died on Sunday at age 91, his family said. 

Asner, who was honoured with seven Emmy Awards, died at his home surrounded by his family, his publicist told media outlets.

His family confirmed the death on the actor’s Twitter feed, writing, “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,” his family said.

Asner was known for his liberal politics and his stint as Screen Actors Guild president in the 1980s when he criticized US involvement in Central America during the administration of a previous head of the actors’ union, President Ronald Reagan. In a career of remarkable longevity, Asner acted into his 90s.

Asner was integral to the success of the sitcom Mary Tyler Moore, which ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977 and boasted one of the best assemblages of actors and writers in US TV history.

Asner was not known as a comic actor before landing the Mary Tyler Moore role but demonstrated deft comic timing in working with a cast that included Ted Knight, Betty White, Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod and Cloris Leachman.

“I didn’t really put my toe into the water of comedy until I went up to read for ‘Mary Tyler Moore.’ I was afraid of it,” Asner said in a 1995 Montreal radio interview. “Not that I couldn’t do an initial spark of humour but I didn’t know how to maintain it.”

The series ran for seven years and won the Emmy for outstanding comedy series three straight years starting in 1975. Asner won three Emmys for his work on the show.

Asner also won Emmys for his work in two miniseries – Roots in 1977 and Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976 – and his total of seven was more than any other male actor. He was nominated for an Emmy 20 times.

Later in his career, Asner became a successful voice actor for animated TV shows and films and played Santa Claus in several projects, including the 2003 Will Ferrell comedy Elf.

In the sentimental 2009 animated film Up, Asner provided the voice for the main character, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen, who after the death of his beloved wife ties balloons to his house and floats off to fulfil his fantasy of exploring South America, only to find he has a youthful stowaway.

The movie won an Oscar for best-animated film and a nomination for best picture.

Asner remained a busy actor into his 90s with appearances in such series as Dead to Me and Cobra Kai.

Asner, born in 1929, became a regular on television and later the movies starting in the 1950s. Asner also was instrumental in the 2017 creation of The Ed Asner Family Center, founded by his son and his daughter in law, to help children with special needs and their families.

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