Ed Asner, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild and star of both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant, died at 91 years old.
The news of Asner’s passing comes on the 18th anniversary of my seeing The Second City in action for the first time in 2003. Prior to the Second City performance, I was preparing for a career in politics. My plans changed as a result of this show. In any event, I wrote off to a number of comedians and comedy writers about breaking into the business. In fairness, I was a college student and also wanted to get mail in my inbox. Anyway, Asner had been a founding member of the Playwrights Theatre Company, the Chicago group that would later reform as The Compass Players and reform once more as The Second City. It was in knowing this that I wrote off to Ed Asner and included a blank page and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).
What follows below is a scanned photo of the letter that Asner sent back. It is one of the few handwritten letters I’ve saved along with one from the late Detroit Tigers broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. I had a variety of potential career paths in college and sports broadcasting was one of them. I can say without a doubt that both Asner and Harwell are class acts and couldn’t have been more gracious in their responses. In looking at the scan this morning, some of the margin appears to be cut off but it’s mostly still readable in full.