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Actor Ed Asner Stars In 'The Soap Myth,' Play About How We Remember History

Kerry Stewart
Actor Ed Asner plays Milton Saltzman in The Soap Myth.

Actor Ed Asner is probably best known for two television roles he played — his funny portrayal of gruff TV news director Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore show and his serious portrayal of the same character in Lou Grant. Those roles and others led to win seven Emmy and five Golden Globe Awards, but his latest role is often at odds with a journalist.

The play is called The Soap Myth, and Asner plays Milton Saltzman, who is an older, curmudgeonly Holocaust survivor trying to convince a magazine journalist of the truth of an atrocity perpetrated by Nazis during World War II. The work was written by playwright Jeff Cohen.

"[The play is] about soap," Cohen explains, "but it's about much larger issues as well. One of the things that audiences have found is this notion of: How do you write history?' Who has the right to write history?"

He continues, "One of the things that's wonderful about Ed's portrayal of the Holocaust survivor is that he sees the world in black and white because he is the embodiment of what happened."

Asner, who has relatives who survived the Holocaust, says that while he doesn't know where or how he learned the importance of standing up to authority, that remains essential still today.

"When a lie is glaring and no one rises to challenge it, it's an offense to God, if nobody else," he says.

The play is presented by Holocaust Education Resource Centerin Milwaukee, and will be on stage Monday night at Congregation Shalom in Fox Point.