Alan Young, Popular TV Star Of ‘Mister Ed’ Dies At 96 – News Every day

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  • Alan Young
  • (Photo : John M. Heller/Getty Images ) Alan Young speaks as he signs Copies Of ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business… Was’ at Book Soup on September 10, 2006, in West Hollywood, California.

Remember the comic star of the 1960s, Alan Young? He had a big co-star—a talking horse called Mister Ed. And now he died (Young, not Mister Ed) Thursday at the young age of 96.

Young had lent his voice for Scrooge McDuck and other animations. His death was due to natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Home, said the Motion Picture & Television Fund Friday. Having lived at a retirement community for four years, he finally died with his children around him

As he had been a veteran of radio and movies, featured in his Emmy Award-winning TV comedy-variety show in the early 1950s, his career was following a downslide when he was selected to play the lead in “Mister Ed.”

Comedian-producer George Burns had told his associates: “I think we should get Alan Young. He looks like the kind of guy a horse would talk to.”

It had been a syndicated series in January 1961 and moved to CBS for four years that fall. “Mister Ed” cast Alan Young as architect Wilbur Post. He shifted with his wife Carol (Connie Hines) into a new home and was stumped to find a speaking horse in the backyard barn.

With the relationship between Post and the horse being the backbone of the show, Young later said that they had been “great pals.”

He said to The Times in 1990, that Wilbur was “naïve and bumbling,” while “Ed was a wily one.” “I think it’s the same chemistry that made Laurel and Hardy and Jackie Gleason and Art Carney: It’s the one guy making a fool of the other guy.”

The baritone for Mister Ed was provided by Allan “Rocky” Lane, an ex B-movie cowboy star.

“Because he had been a star at one time, Rocky didn’t want his name to appear in the credits,” Young said in a 2004 interview with the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. “But after the first year and the show had become a success, he went to the producers and said he would like a credit line.

“They told him no because kids in the audience were writing to Ed and thought the horse could really talk. They gave Rocky a nice raise instead, and he seemed happy with that.”

But how exactly did he get his horse to move his mouth?

“I started a big lie,” he confessed in a 2001 interview with the Archive of American Television. “I said, ‘Well, when you were a kid did you ever get peanut butter stuck under your lip?’ ‘Oh, that’s how it’s done!’ So I never really lied; I just asked them a question. But that wasn’t true at all.”

It was animal trainer Lester’s doing. “Lester had a knack,” said Young. “He used a soft nylon thread put under the lip. And then he had the end going down the bridle, and he’d just give it a little tug [and] Ed would try to get rid of it; that was his cue. And then he’d lay the [riding] crop across Ed’s forelegs, and that was the cue to stop. That was it.

“For the second year, we could hardly stop him from talking. As soon as he heard my voice stop, his lips would start to go.”

Mister Ed has remained popular forever. Two years ago, Young got into a packed elevator, faced the door and then softly sang the first line of its theme song: “A horse is a horse.” He then paused, which prompted the entire crew behind him to add: “Of course, of course.”

Young’s personal marital life began in 1940, with Mary Anne Grimes, with whom he had a daughter, Alana, and a son, Alan Jr. but it broke up in 1947. One year later, he married Virginia McCurdy in 1948, when they got a son, Cameron Angus, and a daughter, Wendy.

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Alan Young, Popular TV Star Of ‘Mister Ed’ Dies At 96 – News Every day