Veteran actor Ed Asner, best known for playing acerbic Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, has died at 91.

The late actor’s publicist confirmed his passing in a statement to ET Canada: “Legendary actor, activist, father figure, philanthropist and seven-time Emmy Award-winning Icon Ed Asner (“Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “Lou Grant”, “Elf”, “UP!”) passed away today peacefully surrounded by family. Asner was 91.”

Asner played the gruff-but-lovable newsman in seven seasons of the beloved sitcom, and then reprised the role for five more seasons in the Emmy-winning dramatic series “Lou Grant”, in which the character took a new job as a newspaper editor.

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During the course of his lengthy career, Asner won seven Emmy Awards — three for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and two for “Lou Grant”, in addition to Emmy wins for his work in the miniseries “Roots” and “Rich Man, Poor Man”; Asner made history as the first actor to ever win Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series while portraying the same character. All told, Asner received 15 Primetime Emmy nominations, as well as winning five Golden Globes.

Asner was also renowned for his philanthropy and political activism for progressive causes, making headlines for his work to free Black journalist and political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison, and his efforts to institute single-payer health insurance in California.

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Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, from 1981 until 1985, and had previously been instrumental in organizing the 1980 SAG strike and boycott of that year’s Emmys.

In his later years, Asner carved out a whole new career as a voice actor, most notably for voicing crotchety Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s 2009 hit “UP!”.

Asner never retired, and maintained a jam-packed acting schedule prior to his death, with recent roles in such series as “Grace and Frankie”, “Dead to Me”, “Cobra Kai”, “Blue Bloods”, “Doom Patrol” and many more.

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On Wednesday, just four days before his death, Variety published an extensive interview with Asner.

Looking back at his extraordinary career, Asner was asked what was left on his bucket list. “I haven’t climbed Suribachi!” he joked.

“There have been few actors of Ed Asner’s prominence who risked their status to fight for social causes the way Ed did,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement about his passing. “He fought passionately for his fellow actors, both before, during and after his SAG presidency. But his concern did not stop with performers. He fought for victims of poverty, violence, war, and legal and social injustice, both in the United States and around the globe.”

Asner’s efforts as an animal rights advocate were recognized by PETA, with the organization’s senior vice president Lisa Lange stating, “Gruff on the outside and on the screen but a pussycat of a fellow, long-time champion of social causes Ed Asner recognized every species as worthy of respect, including the cats he loved and regarded as family members. He worked with PETA to end cruel tests on animals and advocated passionately to end circus acts with lions, tigers, and elephants. PETA will forever remember his strength and his kindness.”

News of Asner’s passing led to a flood of tributes on social media.

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