February 24, 2020

Celebrities Come Out to Roast TV Legend Ed Asner for 90th Birthday

Ed Asner's 90th Birthday; Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging @mathewimaging

Emmy-award winning TV legend Ed Asner celebrated his 90th birthday with a star-studded celebrity roast and fund raiser at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on November 3. Asner is best known for his comedic and dramatic crossover as the gruff but soft-hearted journalist Lou Grant, the role he originated on the landmark TV comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and continued in the newspaper-set drama “Lou Grant.” He has also voiced the curmudgeonly Carl in Pixar’s animated film “Up.” More than 400 attendees filled the iconic Blossom Ballroom to watch Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill, Rob Schneider, Ed Begley Jr., Richard Kind and Brad Garrett lovingly tease the nonagenarian.

The evening benefited the new Ed Asner Family Center, dedicated to promoting mental health and enrichment programs to special needs children and their families. “To be celebrating 90 years of Ed Asner is a very big deal. Being a star for over five decades should be enough. But from his work as an actor, to fighting social injustice, to his fight for union workers everywhere, to making sure the underdog gets a fair shot and finally to his dedication to helping differently “abled” individuals and their families be the amazing people they are. My father has been there for everyone. I think it’s time that we all came out and said thank you. Thanks for the laughs and the tears and most of all thanks for the help,” said Matthew Asner, President of The Ed Asner Family Center.

The event was hosted by Tom Bergeron (“Dancing with the Stars”) who began the evening by joking that “it is said that people mellow with age. We are here to celebrate the guy who didn’t get that memo, Ed Asner. He has 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 5 Golden Globes, 7 Emmys and has played Santa Claus at least 10 times which is more than anyone except Santa Claus.”

Musical entertainment was provided by Darius Rucker, Steve Lukather of Toto and legendary singer songwriter Jackson Browne. Each performed a medley of their greatest hits. The Atlantic City Boys Band also sang hits of the 50’s and 60’s Rock-n-Roll era.

The gala also offered an exclusive silent and live auction, as well as a spirited “Fund-A-Mission” auction where guests had the opportunity to support special The Ed Asner Family Center initiatives, including summer camp for kids with autism and other programs for the community.

Asner was treated to some video messages from celebrities including Steve Martin, Martin Short, Sarah Silverman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Henry Winkler and Al Pacino. It was Paul Rudd who extended the most touching message saying “Ed, I can’t believe you are turning 90. It just seems like when we did a play [‘Grace’] a couple years ago that you were 95. You still are the loving, whip smart, salty son of a bitch that I have always loved.”

Ed Begley Jr. began the roast by telling the audience that “Ed is so old, he knew Madame Butterfly when she was a caterpillar. He knew Baskin Robbins when he had one flavor. The truth is I love Ed like a great, great, great, great grandfather.”

Rob Schneider cited Asner as an inspiration for comedians such as himself and Adam Sandler: “Long before Adam Sandler made his career as an angry man, there was Ed Asner. People could relate to this angry man because he looked like that angry guy down the street and he was angry for the right reasons – in justice, in equality, in ignorance of hate. Ed you were also able to let us know that while you were being driven nuts by this crazy world, somehow everything was going to be fine. And that it’s ok to go little nuts for the right reasons. For all these reasons, people all over America after watching you slept a little better.”

Mark Hamill, discussed working with MGM during the production of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which Asner starred in: “I met (Asner) in the fall of ’74… I had a series that is long forgotten but was produced by MGM Productions, so I was there during the fifth season of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’” Hamill said. “It was great; I liked his show more than I liked mine.”

Ed Asner’s 90th Birthday; Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging

“What a night!” Asner said. “90 years. A milestone I never thought I would make. You know what they say… 90 is the new 80. I have seen so much in my life. Because of some very lucky breaks I was able to create a career for myself that I am immensely proud of. From JJ Peachum in ‘Three Penny Opera,’ to ‘Mary Tyler Moore,’ to the latest shows that I have been lucky enough to be cast in. Tonight, to be lovingly raked over the coals by such a list of luminaries is something for the ages. And to be treated to some of the greatest musical talent around from my friends Darius Rucker, Steve Lukather and Jackson Browne was top notch. I am proud of what we are offering with The Ed Asner Family Center. I am humbled by the response and support everyone has given.”

Asner had the audience in stitches after reading aloud a “congratulatory text” he had received from Donald Trump: “‘Dear Fred,’” began Asner. “‘I understand that you are turning 90 or as I like to call it the big 80. I also understand that the event is at the Roosevelt Hotel which is nice, but frankly you should have held it at my Doral golf club – it has the greatest ballroom ever! People keep on telling me ‘Donny what a strong ballroom, maybe when you turn 90, you will hold your birthday at the Doral. I thought that is a great idea as I should just be getting out of prison by then.'”