Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Sunday, June 9, 2013

An Edifying Moment

My many fans often ask what I do when I'm not hanging around outside my Library.  Well, as a feline roving reporter, I am, of course, covering the reporter's beat around town, digging up stories to post on my blog, and doing the occasional dumpster-diving for quick snacks when there are no minions present to supply them upon demand.  Naturally, I take time to play with tiny buzzing or crawling dinners, which I never eat but simply enjoy pretending to hunt and capture.  We cats must keep our predatory skills well honed, in case din-dins are late.  Minions can be so undependable!

When I'm visiting my minions' house, which is down the hill from the home where I live mostly, I partake in one of their favorite pastimes:  watching fifty-year-old television programs.  One of their favorites is (drum roll, if you please) . . .

Mister Ed TV Series (1961-1966)

Mister Ed was a talking horse who only spoke to his owner, architect Wilbur Post (portrayed by Alan Young).  Ed was always getting Wilbur into (and, subsequently, out of) trouble to hilarious effect.  The cast included retired western movie actor Allan "Rocky" Lane, who gave Mister Ed a wonderfully distinctive voice; Connie Hines, who played Carol Post, Wilbur's amazingly understanding wife; Bamboo Harvester, the palomino horse who played Ed; Larry Keating and Edna Skinner, who played the Post's neighbors, Roger and Kay Addison; Leon Ames and Florence MacMichael, who played Colonel Gordon and Winnie Kirkwood (replacing the Addisons as neighbors in seasons 4-5); with regular guest appearances by Jack Albertson (as Kay's brother, Paul Fenton, a music publisher, for whom Ed wrote two hit tunes under Wilbur's name), and Barry Kelley (as Carol's father, Mr. Higgins).  Series producer/director Arthur Lubin, who had directed the Francis the Talking Mule movies (1950-1956), worked with horse trainer Les Hilton, who "discovered" Bamboo Harvester as the ideal horse to portray the title character.

 Why didn't Mister Ed sign his hooftograph?  Just asking

 Mister Ed was smarter than the humans surrounding him
(No surprise to moi)

Love those specs, Ed

TV's Mister Ed was inspired by the collection of grown-up stories written by Walter R. Brooks, most famously remembered today as the author of the children's book series, Freddy the Pig.  Brooks focused upon rather adult humor--the horse and his master, Wilbur Pope, drank together frequently, which is when most of the talking occurred--which led magazines like The Saturday Evening Post (where, incidentally, Scowl-Face used to work in the mid-1990s) to request that Brooks tone-down the booze.  Instead, Brooks submitted to magazines tailored toward an adult male audience.

Alan Young started the rumor that the TV crew made Mister Ed talk by rubbing peanut butter under his upper lip.  Actually, it was a nylon strip, which Ed would then move his lips to attempt to remove.  Quickly, however, Mister Ed learned to move his lips himself whenever the actors stopped talking and, eventually, when trainer Les Hilton touched Ed's hooves.  Mister Ed was an amazingly intelligent horse, as both Alan Young and Connie Hines have declared during recent interviews.

Mister Ed riding a surfboard

Mister Ed was a cute American situation comedy typical of the early- to mid-1960s.  It is still quite funny and charming.  Alan Young has written a delightful autobiography (revised ed., 2012) that shares many memories of working on the TV series.

My minions think the TV series is a hoot, and I like watching Mister Ed doing all the funny things the show's writers created for him.  It's good plain fun.  There's not much of that on contemporary television, so far as I've seen.  We'll watch the old classics, thank you very much.  You could do a whole lot worse, as any episode of The Soup readily reveals.



Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat


P.S.  In this video clip (from season four, episode one, "Leo Durocher Meets Mister Ed" [September 29, 1963]), Mister Ed demonstrates some helpful batting tips for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Actor Larry Keating died during the filming of this episode.  He was a terrific character actor who made the series immeasurably funnier.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this - my human was under the mistaken impression that Alan Young had died some years back, but it's not true!

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