Alan Young, a wonderful and versatile actor, died today at the age of 94. He is best known for starring in the iconic TV series from the 1960’s, Mr. Ed. If you’re too young to remember the show and/or have never seen an episode in reruns or on YouTube, may I suggest you treat yourself.
Mr. Ed was a silly show about a talking horse. And I loved it. I mean, I loved it.
In the late 1980’s I had the great privilege to work briefly with Alan Young on a short-lived CBS sitcom called Coming Of Age. It was about two retired couples living in Arizona. Alan played the cheerful next-door neighbor to star Paul Dooley. The series also featured Phyllis Newman, Glynis Johns (the mom from Mary Poppins) and Kevin Pollock.
Though the series never found an audience, I had a great time working there for part of the first season. I was under contract at Universal, waiting for Coach to start. Coming of Age was being produced by Barry Kemp’s production company. I was invited to pitch in and was delighted to do so.
I’ve always been a little worried about meeting performers who I loved as a child, fearing that they won’t be as wonderful as I hoped. Sometimes that concern has been justified, but plenty of times I’ve found the performer to be even nicer than I could have imagined. Some examples of performers who I loved as a kid and then turned out to be wonderful people in real life were Betty White and Shelley Fabares. Alan Young was also someone who just made me happy to be around him.
I got to work with some wonderful older performers on Coming of Age, including Bob and Ray and Van Johnson. If you don’t know who they are, look them up.
I’m sad at Alan Young’s passing, but I’m very grateful I got to know him and work with him. I loved his show as a kid, and I loved him as an adult. Alan was one of those people who really do help make your dreams come true.