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The Voice of Mister Ed

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The Voice of Mister Ed

Allan Lane made more than 100 movies and TV shows from 1929 to 1966, playing bit parts as well as starring roles –– many of them on horseback. As "Rocky" Lane, he made more than 30 Westerns with his horse Black Jack. But his most memorable role might be as the voice of the talking horse on TV sitcom Mister Ed.

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

Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mister Ed.

Lane didn't sing the jingle –– that was Jay Livingston (1915 - 2001), who co-wrote the song with Ray Evans (1915 - 2007) –– but he was the voice of the palomino who would only converse with his owner, Wilbur, played by Alan Young.

Mister Ed was Lane's last role. He voiced the part from 1961 - 1966 but received no screen credit. According to Wikipedia, the producers said the voice belonged to "an actor who prefers to remain nameless." When the credits rolled, they just said: "Mister Ed … Himself." After the show became a hit, Lane asked for but never received credit. He retired after the show went off the air and died 40 years ago today in Los Angeles after a short bout with cancer. He was 64.

The handsome model and actor –– born Harry Leonard Albershardt in 1909 in Indiana –– grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. and played varsity baseball, basketball and football at Notre Dame University. He dropped out of school because of his interest in theater and was discovered by a talent scout while touring with a stock company. He headed first for New York, then to Hollywood where he made films with Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball and Joan Fontaine.

Lane originally signed with the Fox Film Corp. and was the romantic lead in Not Quite Decent. In the 1930s he moved to Warner Bros. and then on to Republic in 1940 where he was cast opposite Linda Stirling in The Tiger Woman (1944). During a break from films, he travelled with circuses and rodeo shows. His TV credits include Cheyenne, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Lawman, The Tales of Wells Fargo, and Wagon Train –– some of which filmed during his Mister Ed years.

Susan Soper is the author of ObitKit®, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she has written for Newsday and CNN, and was Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief."