Mr Ed’s straight man Alan Young dies aged 96

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English-born, Canadian-educated actors children were with him when he died peacefully of natural causes

Actor-comedian Alan Young, who played the amiable straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom Mister Ed, has died, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture and Television Home said on Friday. He was 96.

The English-born, Canadian-educated Young died Thursday, according to Jaime Larkin, spokeswoman for the retirement community where Young had lived for four years. His children were with him when he died peacefully of natural causes, she said.

Young was already a well-known radio and TV comedian, having starred in his own Emmy-winning variety show, when Mister 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 horses deep, droll voice (WIL-bur-r-r-r-r) and the goofy theme song lyrics (A horse is a horse, of course, of course … ). Cowboy star Allan Rocky Lane supplied Mr Eds voice.

An eclectic group of celebrities including Clint Eastwood, Mae West and baseball great Sandy Koufax made guest appearances on the show.

A loose variation on the Francis the Talking Mule movies of the 1950s, Mister Ed was one of the few network series to begin in syndication. After six months, it moved to ABC in October 1961 and lasted four seasons.

When the cameras werent 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.

Like many series of its vintage, Mister Ed won new fans in later decades through near-constant cable TV syndication and video releases.

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 Taylors friend. Young had a small role in the 2002 Time Machine remake.

In later years, Young found a new career writing for and voicing cartoons. He portrayed Scrooge McDuck in 65 episodes for Disneys TV series Duck Tales and did voice-overs for The Great Mouse Detective.

Angus Young was born 0n 19 November, 1919, of Scottish parents in the north England town of North Shields. (In his later years he claimed he was born in 1924.)

The family moved to Canada when he was a child, and he began entertaining in Vancouver when he was 13. He had his own radio program, Stag Party, on the CBC network by the time he graduated from high school. After two years in the Canadian navy, he moved to New York.

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 three years establishing a film and broadcasting center, then toured the country for two years as a Christian Science lecturer. Disillusioned by the church bureaucracy, he returned to Hollywood in 1976.

In 1940, Young married Mary Anne Grimes and they had a daughter, Alana, and a son, Alan Jr. The marriage ended in 1947.

In 1948 he married singer Virginia McCurdy, and they had a son, Cameron Angus, and a daughter, Wendy.

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