Ed Asner, winding up a tour of “Don Juan in Hell” with Cherry Jones, Harris Yulin and Rene Auberjonois, is one of the all-time top Emmy winners, with seven statuettes to his credit. Although he also won for roles in “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Roots,” Asner’s title role in “Lou Grant” practically ranks him as a member of the collective American family.
Asner’s first Emmy, for the first incarnation of Grant on sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” took him by surprise. “You have to be surprised if you’ve never won anything,” he says. “It was a great joy. I felt like a powder pigeon, like my chest would burst. Getting dressed I found a Mexican green jay at our bird feeder, so the day was marked by magical discovery.
“When I heard my name called, I was so flabbergasted, I stood up and, instead of kissing my lovely wife, who was sitting next to me, I kissed the girl on the other side of me! I was all thumbs and fumbles. To tell you the truth, the second Emmy was more important to me, because it convinced me the first one wasn’t a fluke.”
The “Lou Grant” win made Asner the only actor to win Emmys for the same character in both comedy and drama.