Ed Asner grew up working at his father's Kansas City junkyard. The junkyard is still doing business as "Asner Iron and Metal."
At the age of 59, the chunky actor is best known for his TV portrayal of newspaper editor Lou Grant. But his latest role is that of junkyard magnate Harry Brock in a revival of the play "Born Yesterday."It's the kind of coincidence that can happen to an actor in a long career. Asner says he still remembers his own junkyard days.
Back then, Asner was a kid reading all the adventure stories he could find - and "yearning."
"I wanted to get out of the junkyard and be a knight in golden armor like my imaginary heroes," he said.
In 1947 Asner went off to the University of Chicago. His first role was in an "extracurricular" university production of T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral," playing Thomas Beckett.
The 40-year-old "Born Yesterday" was revived last year at Cleveland, and Asner stayed with it when it went on tour, most recently in Washington. The show is opening on Broadway in mid-January.
Harry Brock's junkyard business is described in the play as a million-dollar operation. But Asner remembers that his father had just one small yard.
He is proud of the "iron" in his heritage and the "metal" in his makeup, he said, "even if it has lots of rust." Add to that creaky joints and a torn rotator cuff. And a little bursitis and bad knees. "And my thumbs go out of place."
All that is compensated for by his 15-month-old son. "I have two other children - twins 25 years old. They didn't give me any grandchildren, so I decided to have my own."