My Mary Tyler Moore moment with Ed Asner

It will have been just one of thousands of media interviews he has taken part in over the decades. But for me, as a cadet reporter back in 1990, it was my very first taste of celebrity and I couldn’t have been more terrified at what I hoped wouldn’t turn out to be my very own Mary Tyler Moore moment.

Ed Asner – then 60 – was the actor my parents loved, the hilariously gruff TV newsroom boss of The Mary Tyler Moore Show whose grouchy demeanour saw him scream such famous lines as, “If I don’t like you, I’ll fire you! If you don’t like me, I’ll fire you!”

Meeting him was surreal. But it only took a minute to realise I wasn’t going to be subjected to his acidic TV news boss persona. Instead, I met a quietly charismatic man, a generous story teller who couldn’t have been more likeable.

There’s a reason he won seven Emmy Awards – he has an enormous presence, despite his 5ft 8 stature, that has translated to on-screen gold for more than half a century.

In later years, Asner provided his voice to the animated Pixar hit, Up, playing Carl, an elderly widower whose house is lifted off on a magical adventure thanks to thousands of balloons and a stowaway boy scout – their journey fulfilling a final promise he made to his dying wife.

Asner died at his home on Sunday, aged 91, surrounded by his family, who wrote on the actor’s Twitter feed: “We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully.”

“Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head- Goodnight dad. We love you.”

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