The ‘Cobra Kai’ Actor Behind Johnny Lawrence’s Step-Father

Ed Asner in "Cobra Kai"

YouTube Ed Asner as Sid Weinberg in "Cobra Kai" season 3.

When “The Karate Kid” first came out in 1984, it was not known for its big name stars. Pat Morita, who played the iconic Mr. Miyagi, might have been the most famous of the cast, but even he only appeared in a few supporting roles on television, and really made his big breakthrough through the “Karate Kid” franchise.

Cobra Kai” has taken a similar approach, bringing back big-name stars from the original franchise – namely Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove – but letting the content speak for itself, rather than letting celebrity names hog all the spotlight. However, there has been one noteworthy actor who appeared multiple times in the show. Ed Asner, who died in 2021, was a big-time Hollywood name for decades before his appearance in “Cobra Kai,” and even appeared in some roles you might recognize.

Here’s what you need to know about the legendary actor.

Asner’s Acting Career Is Extensive and Stretches Back Six Decades

Ed Asner in 2009

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty ImagesEd Asner with a model of his “Up” character, Carl Fredricksen, at the film’s premiere in 2009.

Asner began his acting career back in 1957 at the age of 27, where he played several roles in a series called “Studio One.” He is probably best known for his role as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its eponymously titled spin-off series, “Lou Grant,” a role which began in the former show in 1970.

According to IMDb, Asner, through his prolific television career, has won more Emmy Awards than any other male actor in the history of the ceremony. He was also the first of only three actors to win an Emmy for acting in all three categories: Comedy, Drama and Limited Series. Throughout his life, Asner appeared in a number of productions, including several which were released after his death, such as a Muppets Halloween special on Disney+ entitled “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” and an upcoming film called “Awaken.”

Asner also had an autistic son and grandchild, and was involved in a number of charitable foundations supporting awareness and treatment of the condition, such as Autism Speaks. In a 2015 interview with Ability Magazine, Asner told a story about how, when a police officer pulled him over in his car, his son, who is autistic, said to the officer, “Do you know who you’re talking to?” Asner went on to say of the condition:

That’s one of the main efforts we have with autistic children, autistic adults. Because of their inability to lie and because of their lack [of understanding] that there are these types of people that they cannot exercise ordinary tough-cop bull****. They’ve got to assess the situation and respond accordingly, and hopefully, amicably treat sufferers from autism.

Asner’s Role In ‘Cobra Kai’

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Ed Asner may be best known among “Cobra Kai” fans for his role as the curmudgeonly and borderline-abusive step-father to Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), a role which he began in season 1.

Asner also had a prolific career in film, voicing Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s “Up,” adversary to John Wayne’s Cole Thornton in “El Dorado” (1966), and even appearing as Santa Claus in a number of films, including “Elf” (2003), starring Will Ferrell.

Asner died on August 29, 2021, at the age of 91. Exactly three months before his death, on May 29, his “Mary Tyler Moore” co-star Gavin MacLeod died at the age of 90. Ed sent out a tweet later that day, saying, “I will see you in a bit Gavin. Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now,” referring to Betty White, who played Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and was the last remaining living co-star of the show. White will turn 100 in January.

Both Zabka and the “Cobra Kai” creators sent out heartfelt messages to the late actor upon his death, with co-creator Jon Hurwitz calling him a “legend,” and saying his “sense of humor was contagious both on and off camera.”

Asner’s character on “Cobra Kai,” Sid Weinberg, appeared in three episodes of the show; two in season 1, and one in season 3.  According to Parade Magazine, and a tweet from Zabka, filming for “Cobra Kai” season 4 ran from January to about April 2021, meaning that if Sid Weinberg was set to appear in the upcoming season, his scenes would have been shot before his death. If Asner’s character’s death is to be acknowledged, it will most likely be in season 5.

Be sure to catch season 4 of “Cobra Kai” when it is released on Netflix Dec. 31.

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