The beloved American TV sitcom, MISTER ED, debuted 50 years ago today. Featuring a hilarious mischievous talking horse and his klutzy owner, architect Wilbur Post, the show became an instant success, running for six seasons despite some serious later production problems. Mister ED was unique among TV shows in history because it started out as a syndicated series that had such great popularity that CBS picked it up as regular series, as till continues to air to this day in reruns.
The TV show was actually a TV-based ripoff of the Francis The Talking Mule series of films. Strangely, Larry Keating from MISTER ED also starred in FRANCIS GOES TO THE RACES from 1951 as well.
The show was initially intended as an advertisement vehicle for Studebaker to promote their cars, but as financial problems grew for the small brand, they had to withdraw from sponsorship in 1963 and Ford Motor Company was called in to replace them as a primary sponsor and supplier of set automobiles. Another serious problem for the show was the death of the grouchy next door neighbor character Mr. Addison, played by actor Larry Keating. Keating died in 1963 following the show’s third season of leukemia, and buried in Portland, OR. Keating’s Roger Addison character provided hilarious conflict as Mister Ed always seem to leave Wilbur Post stuck right in the middle of some very embarrassing situation right when Roger Addison would stop by to visit, making Wilbur Post look eccentric and weird. These were some of the funniest moments of the show.
A variety of methods were used to make Mister Ed appear to talk, including the use of strings, and he was voiced by uncredited B grade Western actor Allan “Rocky” Lane. The horse that played Mister Ed in the series was Bamboo Harvester, who lived from 1949-1970. He had to be put to sleep in 1970 due to a number of building health problems. Actor Alan Young who played Wilbur Post is one of the only surviving actors from the series. He was born in England and is 91 today. All the other major players in the series are now deceased.
MISTER ED was such a great icon of old TV that it has played for years as reruns. Today, the series continues air each day on the This TV network along with THE PATTY DUKE SHOW. Despite it’s age, the show continues to hold up very well as a great example of classic TV.
Thanks so much Alan Young, Larry Keating and Bamboo Harvester for entertaining me so much during my lifetime.