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Actor and comedian Orson Bean

Orson Bean (1928–2020), comic actor and talk show favorite

by Kirk Fox

Orson Bean was a longtime comic actor who was a favorite guest on TV talk shows, especially “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Bean first gained success as a stand-up comic, then moved on to guest star on TV talk shows and game shows such as “To Tell the Truth.” He guest starred on many television series and had a regular role as a store owner on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” On the big screen, he had a memorable role in “Being John Malkovich.” Bean and his wife, actress Ally Mills, were mainstays of the Pacific Resident Theater Ensemble in Venice Beach, California. He once told the Los Angeles Times, he was “famous for being famous.”  

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Died: Friday, February 7, 2020. (Who else died on February 7?)  


Details of death: Died at the age of 91 when struck by a car crossing the street in Venice Beach, California.  

Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways. 

On his love of theater: “Make a living doing commercials or soap operas or tending bar — and then do theater.” “People shouldn’t get into show business because they want to become stars or become rich; they should get into it because they can’t help but put on a show.” – Bean told the Los Angeles Times 

What they said about him: “Orson Bean was so sweet. So kind. He put me on my first TV show. Thank you Orson. RIP.” – Barbara Streisand 

“Heartbroken over the death of beloved Orson Bean. One of a kind actor & man with a joyous unflagging spirit. Sending love to Alley and his family.” – Dana Delany 

“This is beyond tragic. My heart goes out to his entire family. Orson was the classiest most wonderful man I have ever met. Rest In Love dear Orson, we will miss you very much.” – Kristy Swanson  

Full obituary:Los Angeles Times  

Related lives: 

Character Actors Gallery 

Buck Henry (1930 – 2020), actor and creator of “Get Smart” 

Dick Miller (1928 – 2019), veteran character actor 

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