Alan Young, actor, RIP 1919-2016

When I was growing up, there was not a lot of children-specific programming, but there were a number of iconic, quirky American tv shows which combined elements of fantasy in real life situations, such as My Mother the Car, My Favourite Martian and Bewitched, The Monkees but my favourite was Mr Ed, which starred Alan Young.

This is from the i paper:

English-born Young was already a well-known radio and tv comedian, having starred in his own Emmy-award winning variety show, when Mr Ed was being readied at comedian George Burns’ production company. Burns is said to have told his staff: “Get Alan Young. He looks like the kind of guy a horse would talk to.”

Mr Ed was a golden Palomino who spoke only to his owner, Wilbur Post, played by Young. Fans enjoyed the horse’s deep, droll voice (“WIL-bur-rr-r”) and the goofy theme song lyrics (“A horse is a horse, of course, of course…”). an eclectic group of celebrities including Clint Eastwood, Mae West and baseball great Sandy Koufax made guest appearances on the show…

when the cameras weren’t rolling, the human and four-legged co-stars were friends, according to Young. If Ed was reprimanded by his trainer, Young said, “He would come over to  me, like “Look what he said to me.”

Young also appeared in a number of films, including Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, ‘Tom Thumb, The Cat from Outer Space, and The Time Machine, the latter the 1960 classic in which, speaking in a Scottish brogue, he played time traveler Rod Taylor’s friend.

In later years, Young found a new career writing for and voicing cartoons. He portrayed Scrooge McDuck in 65 episodes for Disney’s TV series Duck Tales and did voiceovers for The Great Mouse Detective.

His gentle comedy caused TV Guide to hail him as “the Charlie Chaplin of television” and the fledgling Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Emmys to Young as best actor and to the show as best variety series.

Howard Hughes, who had seen young on tv, hired him for he lead in a film version of Androcles and the Lion, a comedy based on the George Bernard Shaw play. when it opened in cinemas, however, nobody laughed, so Hughes withdrew the movie and shot 2 weeks of new sequences.

“He put in girls with gauze and a real lion, and it became a blood-and-buts film,” Young recalled in 1987.

Young was a Christian Scientist from his teen years. In the early 1970s, he left his career to work for the Mother church in Boston. He spent 3 years establishing a film and broadcasting centre, and then toured the country for 2 years as a Christian Science lecturer. Disillusioned by the church bureaucracy, he returned to Hollywood in 1976.

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