January 6th 2004
the 84-year-old former star
of the classic TV series Mister Ed, has found
a second career in cartoon voiceovers.
By Ian Spelling
Just how big an impact did Mister Ed make on Alan
Youngs career? His web site, mister-ed.tv, and
those autograph signings where you just might hear
him croon the TV shows title tune give a pretty
good idea of how big an impact was made.
now, as they say, its déjà vu
all over again as MGM Home Entertainment gets set
to release a new DVD collection on next week entitled
The Best of Mister Ed, Volume One, which corrals 21
episodes from Seasons One through Three of the long-running
comedy. On the telephone from his home in Studio City,
California, the 84-year-old Young happily reminisces
about his days spent in the company of a certain selectively
clicked on Mister Ed?" Young asks rhetorically.
"Ill tell you, it was just about everything.
It was an age of innocence. It was just a fun show.
I think people had had their fill of quiz shows by
then. The quiz shows had been investigated for crookedness."
also had had their fill of westerns and shoot em
ups," Young continues. "So along came this
show about a horse that talks. We thought it might
be for the kids mainly, but everybody adopted it.
So it was great, and it worked for years."
played Wilbur Post, the architect whod just
moved with his wife Carol (Connie Hines) to a new
country home. Once there, they found a horse that
had been left behind in the barn. Of course, of course,
this was no everyday horse. Ed would converse only
with Wilbur, which led to all sorts of shenanigans
Ed records a hit song, Ed falls for a lovely
filly, Ed convinces Wilbur to provide for him in his
will, Ed encounters Zsa Zsa Gabor and Clint Eastwood
and George Burns, Ed becomes a beachcomber, Ed gets
addicted to apples, Ed suffers the humiliation of
posing as a zebra, etc. Along the way, Carol grew
increasingly frustrated as her husband spent more
and more time with his horse and not her.
think the very first episode ("The First Meeting")
is up there with the best of them," Young says.
"Its just very funny. Youve got the
horse and youve got Connie. Connie Hines is
just so beautiful. Those are the questions Im
still most often asked: How did the horse talk and
is Connie Hines as pretty as she looked on the show."
I want everyone to know that Connie is still just
as beautiful as ever," he adds with a laugh.
"I see her once or twice a month at different
shows we do, autograph shows and memorabilia shows."
And so far as the horse, as far as I was concerned
he really did talk. George Burns was very familiar
with Mister Ed because he staged the first 13 weeks
of the show."
says Burns had a vested interest in the success of
Mister Ed, as he personally underwrote a large portion
of the pilot episode. "George really supported
the show," recalls Young. "We used to do
all of our rewrites in his office. We wrote a part
for him in one episode and he said, OK.
He was a lovely guy."
had Clint Eastwood on the show early in his career,
but Ive never seen him since. He was a very
good guest star. Hed do anything for us. Clint
was a very good sport."
days, audiences are used to the elaborate CGI effects
on view in the likes of the Harry Potter, Star Wars
and Lord of the Rings movies, not to mention any number
of weekly television shows. Back in 1961, Mister Ed
was at once convincing and low-tech; a nylon strip
placed in Mister Eds mouth prompted him to move
time, when the horse saw Young talk, it just automatically
started to "talk," even if the camera wasnt
rolling. "We didnt want to use animation
for the lips," Young explains. "We wanted
to let people think the horse was talking, and how
could you not think that when the horse was really
moving his mouth? The audience knew the horse was
really moving its mouth. So that was a great, simple
such great behind-the-scenes tidbits cant be
found on the Mister Ed DVDs. The two-disk set includes
only the 21 episodes, no extras. It seems like a lost
opportunity, especially since Young and Hines are
both still alive, remain good friends and are always
willing to reminisce about Mister Ed.
that silly?" Young says. "Everyone else
did it (for other classic TV show DVD collections).
People want to know how it was done, why it was done.
We had some marvelous outtakes, but the producer had
destroyed them all."
eager for details about Mister Ed or Young can check
out both the actors site and/or his autobiography,
Mister Ed and Me. In the meantime, Young shares an
intriguing anecdote: "I had all sorts of Mister
Ed props and a man came to me and said, Im
going to start up a museum." Young recalls.
"He said, Its going to be in Las
Vegas and Id like to get everything you have
from the show so we can show it."
daughter said, Oh Daddy, dont give things
away," adds Young.
wanted to get rid of some stuff because I live in
a condominium and I was getting crowded out. So she
said, As long as hes going to start a
museum, fine. I used to save Mister Eds
shoes and give them to charities."
donated four horseshoes, a jacket, a shirt, a hat
and a number of other items only to discover that
he might have been deceived. "The museum never
started up and the next thing I saw on the news was
some lady whod gone to Sothebys and bought
four of Eds horseshoes for $8500," Young
says. "Ive never been able to find this
guy since, unfortunately."
I still have a few things," he points out. "Ive
got lots of photographs, of course. I have one horseshoe
left. I have a sketch Al Hirshfeld did of Ed and myself,
which Im looking at right now. So thats
about all I have left, and Im going to keep
may be most associated with Mister Ed, but hes
enjoyed a long and enduring life as an actor. Raised
in Scotland, he started out in radio and then segued
into movies and television, carving a niche for himself
beginning in 1950 with The Alan Young Show, a variety
program for which he won three Emmy Awards.
later achieved status as a cult film favorite thanks
to his appearances in Androcles and the Lion, tom
thumb and The Time Machine. And then he horsed around
with Mister Ed for nearly six years. Once the show
was put out to pasture, Young took some time off and
better familiarized himself with his adopted homeland
by driving across America.
the late 1970s, he embarked on a new career and got
animated as a voiceover performer. Hes been
heard in everything from Scooby and Scrappy-Doo to
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends to The Smurfs (as
Miner Smurf) and The Ren & Stimpy Show. However,
a much younger audience recognizes him as the voice
of Scrooge McDuck in the feature Mickeys Christmas
Carol and the TV series DuckTales and House of Mouse.
a big thrill for me, I have to say," Young notes
of his longevity and cross-generational popularity.
"Ill have three generations at once come
up to me sometimes. Ill have grandfathers, parents
and their kids. I dont mean to sound corny,
but its very gratifying."
grandparents know me from The Alan Young Show or Mister
Ed, and some of the very old ones know me from my
days in radio," he continues. "But the parents
know me from repeats of Mister
Ed and maybe some of the animated shows and movies.
And the grandkids know me from DuckTales."
still voices Scrooge McDuck and he turned up in a
cameo as a flower store worker in the 2002 remake
of The Time Machine. Hes even got a new movie
coming out. "At least I hope its coming
out," Young jokes. "It won an award at a
film festival in Monte Carlo. I won Best Actor. So
people are saying a renaissance is coming for me."
would be nice, if only because this movie is a family
film that has no explosions in it and no sex scenes,"
adds Young. "You may have to come to my house
to see it, but its a very sweet picture. It
was called Em & Me, for my characters dead
wife, Emily, but they figured that title wouldnt
go over in Europe. Its now called Moondance."
plays a grandfather whose daughter, husband and their
two kids think he is going senile because he can no
longer keep up with them. But when he hears that they
want to put him in a nursing home, he packs his bags
and takes off to Ames, Iowa, where his wife is buried.
the film, my wife and I used to dance under the moon,"
Young explains. "Im a little addled because
I want to dance with her once more under the moon.
So on this trek across the country I meet different
people and not only do I change their lives, but they
change mine. I get more sensible."