THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, from left: Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, 1970-77.

Gavin MacLeod was a versatile and dependable actor who was a good friend to his co-stars during the seven-season run of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Ed Asner told Variety in paying tribute to the TV veteran who died Saturday at the age of 90.

MacLeod was an ally to his co-stars in any scene, recalled Asner, who played the voluble WJM-TV news director Lou Grant on the groundbreaking comedy that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977.

“He made everything easy,” Asner said.

Off the set, MacLeod was also generous. In the years after the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Asner and his wife were having marital troubles. MacLeod and his wife, actor Patti Kendig, made a point of reaching out to the couple out of friendship and concern.

“I realized that whenever I was tense, (MacLeod) was there to relieve it,” Asner recalled. “I treasured his friendship.”

MacLeod himself was a lot like the character he played on “Mary Tyler Moore,” the slightly neurotic news writer Murray Slaughter, Asner recalled. “They patterned the character quite well after him,” Asner said of the show’s writers.

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