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Alan Young (1919 - 2016)

Courtesy Everett Collection

Alan Young (1919 - 2016)

Alan Young, the human star of classic TV sitcom "Mister Ed," died May 20, 2016 at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California, according to multiple news sources. He was 96.

From 1961 to 1966, Young played Wilbur Post on "Mister Ed," the popular sitcom that featured the titular talking horse and his owner, Wilbur, who was the only person Mister Ed would talk to. The show's producer, Arthur Lubin, noted that Young was chosen for the role because he "just seemed like the sort of guy a horse would talk to."

Though critics panned "Mister Ed" initially, viewers liked it, and it did well in the ratings. It was the first of a number of 1960s sitcoms revolving around a fantastic premise – the talking horse spawned shows about an alien ("My Favorite Martian"), a genie ("I Dream of Jeannie"), monstrous families ("The Addams Family" and "The Munsters"), a witch ("Bewitched") and more.

Young, who was born Nov. 19, 1919, in North Shields, Northumberland, England, and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was 6, was a radio star before he made the move to TV. Radio sitcom "The Alan Young Show" debuted on Canadian radio in 1940, then moved to NBC Radio for a U.S. version in 1944, running off and on for several years before launching on TV as a variety show in 1950. Young won an Emmy Award for best actor in recognition of his performance.

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In addition to "Mister Ed," Young made appearances on a wide variety of TV shows, including "Studio One," "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote." His movies included "Chicken Every Sunday" and "Gentlemen Marry Brunettes."

In later years, Young turned largely to voice acting, providing the voice of Disney's Scrooge McDuck for "Duck Tales" and a number of movies, as recently as 2016 for the "Mickey Mouse" TV series. In the 1980s, he was the voice of several Smurfs for "The Smurfs" animated series, including Farmer Smurf. "The Ren & Stimpy Show" cast him as Haggis McHaggis, while he was toymaker Hiram Flaversham in "The Great Mouse Detective."

Young was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia McCurdy, in 2011.

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