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Legendary comedian Ed Asner revealed the secret to his successful seven-decade career

Late legendary comedian Ed Asner gave the secret to his success in one of his last interviews before his death on Sunday: ‘I want to entertain myself. I don’t care about you!’

The former Mary Tyler Moore Show star added that his audiences gave him the vitality that kept him able and sharp as a tack even into his 90s, and took delight in telling the world: ‘I sell my body.’

The Hollywood icon, who passed away Sunday at the age of 91, gave one of his last interviews to DailyMail.com at a red carpet private event in Los Angeles celebrating his 90th birthday, where other stars flocked to toast and roast him.

He revealed his natural skill to perform during his seven-decade career was down to entertaining himself and not getting bored, and reflected on his monumental career in the only way he knew how – by cracking jokes and being humble.

Ed Asner died peacefully on Sunday morning, surrounded by his family at 91. The Hollywood icon gave one of his last interviews to DailyMail.com at a red carpet private event in Los Angeles celebrating his 90th birthday

Aged 90, he had still not lost a step in his comedic timing or witty repartee.

The comedian, who rose to fame as lovable newsman Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died surrounded by family on Sunday morning,

Asner is the most decorated male performer in the history of the Emmys, with a total of seven wins, five of which were for his role as Lou Grant; seen in 2002

Asner is the most decorated male performer in the history of the Emmys, with a total of seven wins, five of which were for his role as Lou Grant; seen in 2002

Despite his film and TV success, he told DailyMail.com he felt the energy of a live audience gave him the greatest buzz.

Asner added that he found his natural niche to entertain because ‘It is going to be boring otherwise. I want to entertain myself. I don’t care about you!’

He said that his drive to be the funniest man in the room came from a natural competitiveness.

‘I do not want to be last in the class,’ he said. ‘You understand that?’

Asner was a titan in American showbusiness, becoming a household name thanks to The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same character in both a comedy and a drama.

He is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, having won seven.

He earned a cohort of younger fans playing Santa Claus in Will Ferrell’s Elf and voiced the bespectacled widower and retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s 2009 heartwarming film, Up.

Despite his large and small screen success he said his greatest buzz came from doing live work in the theater.

‘I do not necessarily see it on screen, because I am not seeing it on screen when I am doing it,’ he said. ‘But what I get is what I take from the audiences when I perform on stage.

‘I am not saying the stage is superior, it is that you have to wait for the results.’

His character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show proved so popular that he ended up having his own spin-off show, Lou Grant, which was a drama (seen in 1975)

His character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show proved so popular that he ended up having his own spin-off show, Lou Grant, which was a drama (seen in 1975)

Asner lent his voice for numerous animated projects, including the Pixar movie Up

Asner lent his voice for numerous animated projects, including the Pixar movie Up

Asner felt that his career has been great fun and he is most proud of ‘this longevity’.

But he could not pick out a single favorite role in his long career, saying ‘all of them’ filled him with pride.

‘I am proud of Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant, Elf and Up and all the ones in between that kept me going and kept me paid and kept encouraging me enough to go with the next one which may have been a turning point,’ he said.

Asner added, during the 2019 interview, that although he enjoyed his career, he would advise his younger self to ‘take from people, witness people, feel them out, sense them and tell the truth.’

Asner made his name in the Chicago’s comedy theater scene, before landing the role of WJM-TV news director Grant in Mary Tyler Moore which premiered in 1970.

During the show’s seven year run, Grant became a fan favorite, leading him to his own series, Lou Grant, which ran until 1982.

But he was almost as well-known for his political activism as his acting. He was caught up in controversy in 1982 after speaking out against the U.S. involvement with repressive governments in Latin America. He condemned President Ronald Reagan’s support of the right-wing military government in El Salvador and raised funds for medical relief in the country.

That led CBS to cancel Lou Grant. He said it also stopped his run for a third term as Screen Actors Guild president. 

Asner won five of his seven Emmy Awards for playing Grant, three as best supporting actor in a comedy series for Mary Tyler Moore and two for lead actor in a drama for Lou Grant.

He also won Emmys for his work in the 1976 mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man and the 1977 miniseries Roots, where he played the captain of the slave ship that took Kunta Kinte from Africa to America.

Asner enjoyed appearances on Modern Family, ER, The X-Files, Grace and Frankie, Cobra Kai. 

Asner was married twice and is survived by four children.


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