It will have been just one of thousands of media interviews he has taken part in over the decades. But for me, as a cadet reporter back in 1990, it was my very first taste of celebrity and I couldn’t have been more terrified at what I hoped wouldn’t turn out to be my very own Mary Tyler Moore moment.
Ed Asner – then 60 – was the actor my parents loved, the hilariously gruff TV newsroom boss of The Mary Tyler Moore Show whose grouchy demeanour saw him scream such famous lines as, “If I don’t like you, I’ll fire you! If you don’t like me, I’ll fire you!”
Meeting him was surreal. But it only took a minute to realise I wasn’t going to be subjected to his acidic TV news boss persona. Instead, I met a quietly charismatic man, a generous story teller who couldn’t have been more likeable.
There’s a reason he won seven Emmy Awards – he has an enormous presence, despite his 5ft 8 stature, that has translated to on-screen gold for more than half a century.
Asner’s role as Lou Grant on 1970’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show led to his own show, the spinoff Lou Grant.
In later years, Asner provided his voice to the animated Pixar hit, Up, playing Carl, an elderly widower whose house is lifted off on a magical adventure thanks to thousands of balloons and a stowaway boy scout – their journey fulfilling a final promise he made to his dying wife.
Asner died at his home on Sunday, aged 91, surrounded by his family, who wrote on the actor’s Twitter feed: “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.”
Kelly Nealon, Editor, Australian Seniors News.