Alan Young, star of 1960s sitcom ‘Mr. Ed,’ dies at 96

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Los Angeles (AP) – Actor-comedian Alan Young, who played the amiable straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom “Mister Ed,” died last week.  He was 96.

The English-born, Canadian-educated Young died peacefully of natural causes Thursday, May 19, according to Jaime Larkin, spokeswoman for the retirement community where Young had lived for four years.

Actor Alan Young poses with “Mister Ed” the talking horse in this March 22, 1962 file photo. (AP Photo)

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 horse’s 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. Ed’s voice.

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

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