Boomers Watched A Show About A Talking Horse

Mister Ed was a TV show that ran from 1961 to 1966. The movie and TV rating site IMDb describes the series as, “The misadventures of a wisecracking talking horse and his human owner.” Boomers will always recall the talking horse, and Mister Boomer bets a good many can still sing along to the theme song from the show’s opening:

A horse is a horse
Of course, of course
And no one can talk to horse, of course
That is, of course, unless the horse
Is the famous Mister Ed!

The series begins as newlyweds Wilbur and Carol Post move into their first house, a country home. They discover the previous owner left a horse behind in the backyard barn. While Carol thinks they should sell the horse, Wilbur quickly takes a liking to him, and wants to keep him. The horse agrees.

George Burns financed the original pilot episode in 1958, which failed to gain a network sponsor. After retooling and a change of cast, it was put into syndication by Filmways with 100 TV stations in 1960. After 26 episodes had aired on syndication, CBS saw the show was well-received, and it was picked up. The first national broadcast aired on October 1, 1961.

Alan Young played Wilbur Post, Mister Ed’s owner, and Connie Hines was his wife, Carol. The man voicing the horse was never credited on the show. Rather Mister Ed is listed as playing “himself.” However, the man behind the horse was Allan Lane, a Western film actor. Mister Ed mainly spoke only to Wilbur, but he could speak to people over the phone. Mister Ed was often pictured as listening in on phone calls through the extension in the barn, where Wilbur, a freelance architect, had constructed his office. In one episode, Mister Ed speaks to a burglar, telling him he was surrounded by cops and should give himself up. In another, he whistled at another horse, but the woman riding the horse heard him instead.

Mister Ed’s real name was Bamboo Harvester, a Palomino show horse born in El Monte, California. The horse was originally trained by Lester Hilton, who had apprenticed with Will Rogers. He also worked with the mules in the Frances the Talking Mule movies from the 1940s and ’50s, the horse in the Fury TV series, and the horse that played Flicka in the My Friend Flicka series. Pumpkin was Ed’s stunt double horse, and was used for Ed’s live appearances. Bamboo Harvester had to be put to sleep in 1968, at the age of 19. The show was still in syndication, so news of the horse’s death was not released so as not to upset boomer children who watched the show.

Here is a video of Mister Ed playing baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Leo Durocher and Sandy Koufax, and another on how they got Mister Ed to move his mouth.

Mister Boomer’s family watched every episode. Mister B was fond of the way Mister Ed would say, “Oh Wilbur!” chiding his owner about so many things. Wilbur was the naive, klutzy one, while Mister Ed was more of a “man of the world,” in tune with what was happening.

Did you watch Mister Ed, boomers?