‘To honor his legacy’: Ed Asner’s family donates Golden Globe award to Wyandotte HS

Ed Asner through the years.
Ed Asner through the years.(Wyandotte High School, Associated Press)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:11 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Wyandotte High School Principal Mary Stewart received a phone call out of nowhere just before Christmas. A year after Matthew Asner had visited the school his father Ed grew up in and 10 years after the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor had participated in a one-act play at the high school, the family wanted to give back.

Ed Asner died in August of 2021 at the age of 91, thus beginning the process of Matthew and his siblings distributing some of their father’s notable artifacts to places that shaped him.

That process mainly included Wyandotte High School and The Second City improv club in Chicago.

“We wanted to find a way to honor his legacy so that he kept inspiring people,” Matthew told reporters Thursday. “We decided to give away an Emmy and a Golden Globe.”

After giving one of Asner’s seven Emmys to Second City, the family came to Kansas City for a second donation. On Thursday, his family met with students from Wyandotte High School for a ceremony that included the donation of a Golden Globe Award to the school where Ed Asner grew up. During a distinguished acting career, Asner won five Golden Globes.

Ed Asner's son Matthew gives Wyandotte High Principal Mary Stewart his father's 1979 Golden...
Ed Asner's son Matthew gives Wyandotte High Principal Mary Stewart his father's 1979 Golden Globe Award during an event Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.(KCTV5)

“This is such a gift for our school and our student body,” Stewart said, “to help our students realize the possibilities that are there for them and that limitations won’t set them back. It’s just a point of inspiration.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, teachers educated students on who Ed Asner was.

“He really was a student here,” Stewart said, “and a very typical student here.”

Asner graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1947. He played left tackle on the varsity football team and was a member of the National Honor Society, Quill & Scroll, Radio Production and the Drama Club.

“He wasn’t the wealthiest, or the smartest, or the most involved. He was just the typical student here who got in trouble, was a little ornery, and was known as a jokester at times,” Stewart said.

Asner’s 1979 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama will be prominently displayed in Wyandotte High’s social hall, the main entrance to the school, where trophy cases and other historical artifacts related to the school are located. Placed next to the award will be a script that Asner used for his role as Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which helped earn him the aforementioned 1979 award and a prior Golden Globe in 1977.

The event in the recital hall of the school included Matthew and his sister Kate Asner-Luckerman sharing memories of their father’s journey through Hollywood and taking questions from a group of 40-50 students.

“We hope this inspires you,” Matthew told the students at WHS.

Some asked what his father’s favorite role was (his daughter Kate said it was when he played Axel Joradche in Rich Man, Poor Man). Others asked if they felt pressured to live up to their dad’s standards during his acting career.

While the younger generation might not have been as familiar with Ed’s work in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, they were more familiar with him in his role as Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s 2009 animated film Up.

“Most of them have a passion, and some of them don’t, and that’s OK,” Kate Asner-Luckerman said. Her father went to the University of Chicago and studied journalism before dropping out of school. “Sometimes I think kids feel bad if they are like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do.’ I changed careers.

“I think (Ed) would say, ‘find out what you love and go for it.”

Stewart said the event served as an important reminder for students.

“Honestly, in life, a lot of times limitations are put on us. And the world sometimes looks at us differently or says, ‘well, this isn’t for you. This is for someone else.’ Our focus here at Wyandotte is to always make sure that their dreams are their dreams and they have every right to have dreams and to go after those dreams.”