COVER_FEATURE_1119_OC_ASNERWith seven Emmy awards and five Golden Globes, Ed Asner is regarded as one of the most honored performers in American television. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Catapulted to stardom as Lou Grant in the long-running sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, Asner more recently is known for his beloved roles in the movie “Elf” and Pixar’s animated creation “Up.”

You would expect that someone with unparalleled accomplishments under his belt would take it easy and relax. But 89-year-old Ed refuses to even contemplate the “ridiculous” thought, having just guest starred in HBO’s “Dead to Me” with Christina Applegate, and recently returned from an overseas tour of his one-man show “A Man and His Prostate.”

In addition to acting, Ed is widely applauded for his activism. Over the years he courageously spoke out on a range of political, labor and human rights causes. He spent two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, where he lobbied for higher pay for actors who were struggling to make a living. Asner is also a tireless voice for humanitarian and philanthropic causes, such as the Survivor Mitzvah Project and Autism Speaks. His youngest son, Charlie, is autistic and he has three autistic grandsons. The family has just opened the Ed Asner Family Center whose mission is to promote self-confidence in differently-abled people and provide interaction and education for them and their families.

In between his extensive travels, activism and work, I recently had the pleasure of speaking to this Hollywood icon and found him not at all like the gruff Lou Grant he personified. He regaled me with stories of growing up in an Orthodox family in Kansas City, attending Hebrew school and cheder and being bar mitzvahed. In fact, he is convinced he became an actor to redeem his perceived miserable bar mitzvah performance.

Asner explained that when he became starting tackle during senior year in high school, religion got in the way. In particular, an important game was scheduled for Yom Kippur eve. He sought advice from his principal, coach and rabbi hoping to get a dispensation, but they all told him that he had to make his own decision. His father tearfully begged him not to play that night, but he did anyway… it was a decision he later regretted.

We spoke about his milestone 90th birthday this month, and I asked him how is it that he shows no signs of slowing down? He noted that working energizes him, and that he is doing what he loves.

We discussed his tremendous success both on stage, television, film and voice-over work. He suggested he likes all mediums, but that the stage is the most fulfilling. While he hates touring, he loves the thrill that being on stage gives him.

I asked what is the secret to his stamina and longevity in Hollywood and he answered “spinach—just like Popeye!” Then he seriously added that his secret ingredient is that people could always relate to him and his characters, and that’s what has kept him going for so long.

When I asked him what he had left to accomplish in his career, Ed quickly answered: “dying on stage!” Laughing loudly, he continued:” Wouldn’t that be one heck of a last act?!”

For schedule and tickets, visit the OC Jewish Arts Festival at: www.JCCOC.org.

Merage Jewish Community Center
Saturday, November 9
Written by Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning writer Ed Weinberger, the play is based on Weinberger’s true-life experience when he was rushed to a hospital for prostate cancer surgery while vacationing in Italy. For tickets visit the OC Jewish Arts Festival at www.JCCOC.org.

28th annual OC Jewish Arts Festival

• films • authors • music • comedy • culinary arts

October 27 – November 24, 2019

The Orange County Jewish Arts Festival celebrates Jewish culture through leaders, authors, and film.

For 27 successful years, the OC Jewish Arts Festival at the Merage JCC has provided our community with a cultural extravaganza, featuring lauded lineups of authors, musicians, filmmakers, celebrities, and influencers. From history to mystery, fact to fiction, politics to religion, Festival’s exceptional repertoire has something to offer all arts lovers.

• Featured Event: Tom Segev,
Sunday, October 27, 4:00 pm
• Israeli Superstar Rami Kleinstein and the Piano

Saturday, November 2, 8:00 pm
• Film: Who Will Write Our History

Sunday, November 3, 4:00 pm

• Film: Theodore Bikel – In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem, Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 pm

• Featured event: Ed Asner in A Man and His Prostate

Saturday, November 9, 7:30 pm

• Author: Tiffany Shlain – 24/6 – The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

Monday, November 11, 7:00 pm

• Film: The Samuel Project

Saturday, November 16, 7:30 pm

• Author: Ariel Burger – Witness – Lessons Learned from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom

Monday, November 18, 7:00 pm

• Cookbook author: Adeena Sussman – Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen

Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 12:00 pm

• Film: Standing Up, Falling Down

Saturday, November 23, 7:30 pm

• Author: B.A. Shapiro – The Collector’s Apprentice

Sunday, November 24, 11:00 am
For schedule and tickets, visit the OC Jewish Arts Festival at: www.JCCOC.org.


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