Classic US TV Favourites Series by David Flynn

The story of the talking horse, ‘Mister Ed’ is remembered by many Irish people who grew up in the mid-1960s, or indeed the early 1980s, when the hit series was repeated.

‘Mr. Ed’s roots come from the ‘Francis – The Talking Mule’ series of movies that were popular in the 1950s, and starred song and dance man, Donald O’Connor. The premise of the movie series was focussed on the world of a talking mule named Francis, who only revealed himself to the character named Peter, played by O’Connor. Director, Sidney Lubin planned to make a ‘Francis’ tv series, but he couldn’t get the rights. Then somebody put him in touch with a series of short stories, about Mister Ed, written by author, Walter Brooks.

‘Mister Ed’ found his way to the CBS network, after they cast Alan Young as Wilbur Post. Alan had a leading role in movies of the 1950s, such as ‘Androcles and the Lion’ and ‘The Time Machine’ before he signed up for ‘Mister Ed’.

In the hit series, Wilbur and his wife, Carol, buy a suburban house and find a horse in the back stable as part of the deal. Wilbur finds the horse is able to talk, but unfortunately nobody else can hear him. The horse, named Mister Ed, has attitude and wit and seemed to have great understanding of human beings.

Carol, played by Connie Hines, can’t understand Wilbur’s attachment to the horse, but goes along with Wilbur’s eccentricities. Wilbur and Carol have neighbours, Roger and Kay Addison, who also find Wilbur eccentric. Later on there were some other neighbours – none of whom could make head nor tail of Wilbur, although Carol was popular with everyone.

‘Mister Ed’ began on CBS in 1961, and came to RTÉ during the early days of Irish television. In 1981, ‘Mister Ed’ was included in the line-up of the children’s Saturday morning RTÉ show, ‘Anything Goes’ in Ireland.

Alan Young may have appeared clumsy on the hit television programme, but he was highly intelligent and well-regarded in Hollywood, and directed many of the ‘Ed’ episodes, and while he never hit the big time again like he did with ‘Mister Ed’, he did continue acting and directing.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (Issue 5569)