Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Am Mr. Ed!

Mr. Ed was a talking horse. That's something you don't see every day. Except, of course, if you were a fan of the Francis movies in the 50's, which chronicled the adventures of a talking mule.

The hit show ran on CBS from 1961-1966. Mr. Ed lived on a farm with Wilbur Post (Alan Young) and his wife Carol (Connie Hines). Alan Young was chosen for the role on a very scientific basis, because the producer thought "he seemed like a guy a horse would talk to."

Unfortunately for Wilbur, Mr. Ed refused to talk to anyone except him, causing him to appear to be crazy on more than one occassion. My theory was always that Mr. Ed didn't really talk at all, and that his voice was only in Wilbur's head. In other words, Wilbur really was crazy. But I had a hard time convincing other people of my hypothesis.

There has always been a lot of speculation about how they made Mr. Ed's mouth move, in an age before computer simulation. Most people seem to think that peanut butter or a similar substance was placed in his mouth, causing it to move as he attempted to remove it. Others claim that at least on some occassions, a string can be seen moving his mouth (the "marionette theory"). Or it could just be that they were lucky enough to actually find a talking horse.

By the way, in case you're in need of a conversation starter at your next party, Mr. Ed's real name was Bamboo Harvester, and the man who did his voice was Allan Lane, who preferred to remain anonymous, his name never appearing in the credits.

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