Mr Ed: a horse of course

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There have been few animal stars that are as fondly remembered as the horse that talked…of course. For years, Mr Ed entertained kids and adults alike with his clever quips and gags, but they great mystery has always been just how they got Mr Ed to talk.

The urban myth was that he was fed peanut butter but aside from being a bit messy, peanut butter would have given him an almighty belly-ache. Instead, his trainer, Les Hilton, used nylon fishing line. The fishing line was attached to the headstall (which is why you never see Ed speaking without his headstall on) and runs through his mouth.

When Mr Ed is required to speak, Hilton gently pulls the line and Ed responds by moving his lips. It’s not a specially trained action but a natural response to something moving in his mouth.

For our horse loving readers, Living Years has supplied this handy list of Mr Ed trivia.

The character Mr. Ed originated in a series of magazine stories. Not only did the horse talk, he got drunk.

The real name of the horse that played Mr. Ed was Bamboo Harvester.

The horse that played Mr. Ed is said to have died in 1979 at the age of 30, 33 or 34 (depending on the source). Other, equally reputable, sources give the horse’s date of death as 1968, 1973 and 1974.

Mr. Ed only talked to Wilbur because (in his judgment) he was the only person worth talking to.

Ed and Walt Disney’s canine film star Big Red won Patsy awards as top animal performers of 1962. The awards were presented Saturday by the American Humane Society.

The horse wouldn’t respond to any of his co-stars, just his trainer, Les Hilton. This meant that Hilton had to be on the set at all times, calling out commands or giving them with hand signals.

Mr. Ed was a golden Palomino.

Mr. Ed’s daily diet was twenty pounds of hay, washed down with a gallon of sweet tea.

When Mr. Ed was tired of working, he’d just walk off the set.

The Mr. Ed theme song was originally recorded in Italy and sung by an opera singer.

Mr. Ed could really open the barn door.

Mr. Ed really could answer the telephone. He just couldn’t talk.

Mr. Ed’s voice was a closely guarded secret, but it was actually Allan Lane, a former cowboy star.

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