“The world for me is divided into three spaces,” Ed Asner told AM New York in 2016. Those spaces: “Lou Grant, Up, and Elf.” While those are his most identifiable credits, they only hint at the breadth and depth of this consummate character actor and controversial activist, who died on Sunday at the age of 91.
In the days to come, expect to see this Asner clip a lot. You should know which one without even clicking on it. His impeccably-timed delivery of one of the most quoted lines in television history—“I hate spunk,” barked at job applicant Mary Richards in the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show—instantly and indelibly defined newsman Lou Grant, the character Asner embodied and made iconic for seven seasons on that show, and then for another five on the spin-off series, Lou Grant.
Asner knew he had nailed the “spunk” scene. “I felt such power at that moment,” he told V.F. in 2017. “I could command those 300 people [in the audience] to march into…