SAN FERNANDO VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Mary Tyler Moore can turn the world on with her smile and Ed Asner isn’t far behind.
The beloved sitcom and drama icon sat down with CBS2′s Andrea Fujii recently in his San Fernando Valley home to discuss his life, career and advice he has for former co-star Valerie Harper, who is battling terminal brain cancer.
Through it all, Asner remains upbeat. He tells Fujii how important it is to laugh.
But in all seriousness, the 83-year-old star’s humor and talent have earned him 7 Emmys over a 40-year-plus career.
He won the Emmys mostly for his work as Lou Grant — on “The Mary Tyler Moore” sitcom and the eponymous drama spinoff “Lou Grant.”
“We thrived and came to love life pretty easily,” says Asner.
He proudly displays a collage of the hit 1970′s comedy that helped establish him as a TV star. “They were glorious, gorgeous memories, all beautiful,” Asner says.
While looking at the collage, he thinks of Harper and her struggle. “She’s a great talent. A good woman of progressive principles.’”
In true Asner fashion, he can’t be serious for too long. “I think she’s lying. I don’t believe her. What the hell does she know about brain cancer?”
Asner recently had a health scare of his own. In March, during his one-man show, “FDR,” he was taken off stage and hospitalized with exhaustion. “I’ve always thought to myself, when I collapse then I know I’ve gone too far. Well, I didn’t collapse this time but it was near collapse and I realized that I’ve got to start sensing the signs earlier than i have in the past.”
Asner is showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to his stage work, he’s recently guest-starred on CBS’ “Hawaii 5-0″ and A&E’s “The Glades.”
“All our lives we never get the chance to act enough so finally when the opportunity to fill fill fill fill comes around…”
Asner shows off a Who’s Who of pictures with famous people he’s rubbed elbows or worked with: Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Jesse Ventura, Paul Newman.
Looking at a picture of Betty White, he quips, “Betty White. That bitch and me.”
Asner told Fujii, despite his storied and well-respected and acclaimed career, he doesn’t see himself as an icon. “The more you’re called icon the more you should run from it,” Asner says.
Instead of being remembered as a star, he wants to be thought of for his love of life and acting and mankind. “Being thought of as a good man, did good works, practiced his craft well, and didn’t screw you if he had the chance.”