Ed Asner at the Detroit News

1966

1979

Photograph courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Actor Ed Asner appears to be making himself at home in this Detroit News office, looking every bit the part of a hard-boiled journalist. It’s no wonder, considering he played a gruff city editor at the time on the popular CBS drama Lou Grant, which aired from 1977 to 1982. Previously, Asner portrayed an irascible TV news producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77). Ben Burns, who in 1979 was assistant managing editor at The News, says Asner was in town to speak at the old Detroit Press Club downtown on Howard Street, and also toured the nearby Detroit News building. Burns later became the paper’s executive editor and is now director of the journalism program at Wayne State University. He says Asner was genuinely interested in journalism and possessed some traits of a classic newspaperman. “He was crusty and funny and reminded me of many editors I had known,” Burns says. “He had opinions, too, and he made them known.” But Burns adds that Asner was also sociable and down to earth. “He was the kind of guy you’d like to go out with for a beer,” he says.

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