Some years ago I moderated a panel discussion featuring a number of television’s biggest stars. The event took place just prior to election day, so I began by asking, “Is it OK for actors to be openly involved in and vocal about politics?”
A tinge of unease came over their faces. You would have thought I had asked them to disrobe. They, like many performers, worried that taking a political stand could alienate half of their viewers, or even derail their career.
By 1982 Ed had seven EMMYs under his belt, many of which were won portraying newsman Lou Grant in two different television series (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant”). He was one of the most popular and successful actors in Hollywood, and “Lou Grant”, then in its fifth season, was still in Nielsen’s top ten.
But Ed made one fatal mistake. No, he didn’t sexually harass his co-workers, or sell illegal drugs, or violate underage boys. Instead, his “crime” was to speak out against the Reagan administration’s Central America policy, and help send humanitarian aid to Nicaraguan civilians under attack by U.S. backed Contras.
Suddenly CBS cancelled “Lou Grant”, and Ed was effectively blackballed from headlining his own network series. But Ed never stopped working, and today at age 88, he is still one of the most sought-after actors in America, and still one of the most politically active.
I first met Ed in 2010 while he was shooting a film in High Point, and took time out to visit the Triad Today studio to tape an extended interview (which is archived on www.jimlongworth.net ). We recently spoke by phone about his new book, “The Grouchy Historian: An Old Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs”, which he co-authored with TV scribe Ed Weinberger.
The book clears up common misperceptions about our great document (it never mentions one man one vote), and about the men who framed it (many were Deists, not Christians), while taking jabs at modern day politicians and pundits who routinely misrepresent the Constitution in order to advance their own agenda.
Jim: Why did you write the book? And why now?
Ed: Well, both Ed Weinberger and I were commiserating with each other on how unhappy we were with the right wing constantly claiming the Constitution was theirs, and we decided that some counter-thrust should occur.
Jim: What’s worse, right wing nuts who abuse the Constitution, or a President who hasn’t read it?
Ed: (laughs) What’s the difference? He’s a pip. Trump is a P.T. Barnum like I’ve never witnessed in my life. There’s a sucker born every minute, and I think he’s corralled most of them.
Jim: Should the 25th Amendment, which allows for a President to be removed from office due to incapacitation, be interpreted to include “mental” incapacitation?
Ed: I’ll probably be jumped on from every quarter for saying this, but it’s an inexact science. You can get one expert to testify to one’s sanity, and you can get another expert to say that the same man is looney tunes.
Jim: In the section of your book titled, “Asner’s Articles”, you advocate for free healthcare. Will America ever get a Medicare For All system like the one Bernie Sanders advocates?
Ed: Why is Canada’s achievement so impossible for us? Why? The have single payer, and they do so well, but we can’t seem to guide our policies that way.
Jim: The week before your book was released, 59 people were murdered at a concert in Las Vegas by a man with over a dozen assault rifles. Since then, another 26 people were killed in similar fashion while attending church services in Texas. Can we have effective gun control, and still preserve the spirit of the 2nd Amendment?
Ed: Yes, there’s a way if you put the emphasis on the “militia” (police and military) being well armed, and not individuals. I am shocked and disgusted that after that Las Vegas incident, that nobody in Congress has talked about gun control.
Jim: Let’s be realistic. Right wingers are not going to buy your book.
Ed: They’ll borrow it (both laugh).
Jim: So then as an old Lefty, how do you ever reach the far Right, and help them have a better understanding of the Constitution, and of the issues facing us today?
Ed: Our problem in this country is that those folks don’t read, and Betsy DeVoss is not helping them. If we could lead a mass education policy in this country, getting people to read what they should be reading, then we might get such books as mine popularly read.
Jim: Do you ever regret being politically active, and getting “Lou Grant” cancelled?
Ed: I second guess on it all the time. My great regret is that a show with ideas was removed from TV, and I don’t think we’ve had a show with ideas to take its place since. The causes we covered on “Lou Grant” are still untreated, and that’s the guilt I carry. But I don’t relive my past beyond that.
Jim: Like me, you’re an Independent, but what has to happen for Democrats to take back control of Congress and the White House?
Ed: Getting off their asses for one thing. If some preacher could come along and show Democrats the suffering caused by Republican policies, then I think that preacher could affect a large following.
Jim: So what would it take for you to stop being grouchy?
Ed: I think that avuncular is very attractive, and I like filling those shoes. I don’t want to stop being grouchy, and mind your own God damn business!
“The Grouchy Historian” is available in book stores and from Amazon.com.
Jim Longworth is a columnist and host of Triad Today
Please consider a donation
so we can continue this work!
Local Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / 1977-1978 Superhero & Science Fiction TV Shows / Funniest SNL Skit Ever! / Prisoner: Cell Block H / Why John Amos Left Good Times / Reviving Match Game / How Betty White's 'Happy Hommaker' Came About / Remembering Cindy-Williams / Creating The Rockford Files / TV Dads Talk Sex & Fatherhood / Angie Dickinson Blows Off This Is Your Life / How Maude Came About / Rare Audio of Bette Davis' Broadway Bound Flop 'Miss Moffat' / Orson Welles' Last Interview / Remembering Ed Asner / Bruce Vilanch on Writing for Donny & Marie / Writing For Fernwood 2 Night / Kris Kristofferson vs Barbra Streisand on A Star Is Born? Kinda... / Remembering Gavin MacLeod / Cher Reviews Her Iconic Outfits Since 1965 / Best Columbo Episodes / Star Maidens Sci-Fi Series / Interview with Cindy Williams (Lavern & Shirley) / One of the Most Controversial Episodes of All In The Family / Outside Chance / The Night Johnny Carson Broke Down / Gavin MacLeod on His MTM Castmates / Norman Mailer & Muhammad Ali / Charles Nelson Reilly Flops on Broadway / Chuck Norris vs Eva Gabor / Dear Detective / Dirty Sally / The Protectors / Chevy Chase Talks Hollywood Cocaine Parties / 1977 Season Show Openings / Love Boat's Oscar Winning Guest Stars / Henry Fonda's 4 Favorite Films / Tom Snyder Interviews Star Trek Cast & Harlan Ellison / The Corner Bar / Tim Conway's 'The Dentist' Sketch / Henry Winkler on His Happy Days Audition / Patrick Duffy of Dallas Interview / Time Express / Wonder Woman Leaves Paradise Island / 1972-73 TV Season / George Burns on the Carson Tonight Show in 1989 / Best Season of Dallas Ever? / Cloris Leachman Remembered / Ken Berry Interview / Why Barney Miller Ended / Vivian Vance Almost Joined the Cast of Rhoda / Marilu Henner Talks About Andy Kaufman / Cher on Mike Douglas 1979 / TV Show Book Tie-Ins / 1972 Jackie Robinson Interview / Dr. Strange 1978 TV Movie / Kathy Garver Interview / Space: 1999 / Paint Along with Nancy Kominsky / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / The Supremes - Mary Wilson vs Diana Ross / When Bruce Dern Killed John Wayne / 1974 Tom Snyder Our Gang Special / Remembering Ken Berry / Bruce / Caitllyn Jenner? / Billy Crash Craddock Interview / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / TV HITS - By the Numbers / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Ray Charles' BIG Problem With TV / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / Iconic M*A*S*H Restaurant Coming To Kroger? / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Luke Perry's Last Role / Johnny Cash's Last Interview / Judy Garland's Last Film / Who Was Bob Gordon? / Richard Dreyfuss vs Bill Murray / Jeff Ross vs Everybody / Tennessee Williams 1972 Interview / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / That Girl & TV's Single Working Women / Can You Identify These Stars? / Betty White vs Joan Rivers / Paul Lynde's Greatest Hollywood Squares Zingers / Sonny Comedy Revue / Star Trek Animated / Dark Shadows / Hal Linden Interview / Dark Shadows Movies / Dark Shadows Novels / The Night Stalker / One of the Funniest Carol Burnett Show Skits Ever / Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson / Johnny Carson interviews Lucille Ball / Dawn Wells / Betty White : An Appreciation / Bette Davis' 2 Best Interviews 1971 / Barbara Eden Interview / Gavin McLeod / Spider-Man 77 / The Next Step Beyond / The Music Dark Shadows / 1970 TV Shows / Mike Connors Remembered / Mike Wallace, Virginia Graham & Jim Longworth / Dick Clark / Woody Allen Hosts Tonight Show 1971 / Carson Tonight Show / Alan Alda Interview / Jackie Gleason Show / 1973 TV Shows / Thriller / Post Modern Sitcoms / Elvis in Greensboro / Remembering Dick Van Patten / TV Dating Shows / The Jacksons TV Show / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Actor Ed Nelson / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Country Music TV Shows of the 1960s & 1970s / Betty White Show / Ron Palillo / Shirley Jones Interview / Tom Bosley / Rodney Dangerfield / How Sanford & Son Ended / Sanford & Son Spin-Off Grady / Great Memoirs / Virginia Graham Show / The "N" Word on TV / 10 Classic Comedy Routines You Have To Laugh At Before You Die / Hollywood Squares / 1970's Teen Idols & The Hudson Brothers / TV Stars with 3 Hit Shows / The Rookies / Unsold Pilots / Jackie Cooper / The Good Guys / Match Game / Make Room For Granddaddy / Mannix & Gail Fisher / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Silent Star Marion Mack / Biff Burger / 1970s Fast Food Chains / Latin Casino / Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire / 1970's Daytime Talk Shows / The Fess Parker Show / Brady Bunch Sex Dungeon? / Love, Loss & What I Watched
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Red Skelton / George Lindsay / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|
to the menu
Contact Us / Survey
Other Cool TV Sites
TVparty! Television Blog