The story of a man and his chatting horse captivated the world in the 1960s. Mister Ed was the show, and it followed the exploits of a talking horse named Mr. Ed and his keeper Wilbur Post.
The show quickly became a classic, and the character of Ed has appeared in everything from rap music to comedy sketches to children’s shows.
‘Hello, my name is Mister Ed.’
A horse is, of course, a horse.
Of course, no one can talk to a horse.
Unless, of course, the horse
Is the well-known Mister Ed!
Mr. Ed’s character was based on a real horse. Bamboo Harvester was already well-known when he arrived on the Hollywood scene.
The most famous horse on television was born and bred to be a star. The real Mr. Ed was a true trailblazer, lighthearted and humorous at times, stubborn and imperious at others.
The Television Show
Even though the television series ended before I was born, I grew up singing that song. Granted, the horse-lover in me may have memorized the song, but this is one horse who certainly won over audiences.
Mr. Ed was a television series that aired from 1961 to 1966 and starred the horse Bamboo Harvester, with Allan Lane as Mister Ed’s voice and Alan Young as the horse’s comical owner, Wilbur Post. Jay Livingston is the voice behind the well-known and beloved theme song.
But who was the horse who acted as Mr. Ed? Bamboo Harvester was a Saddlebred/Arabian crossbred gelding with a golden palomino coat. He was born in 1949 and passed away in 1970. The Harvester, a Saddlebred stallion, was Bamboo Harvester’s sire. Zetna Hara, an Arabian mare, was his dam.
Bamboo Harvester was trained by Lester Hilton. Alan Young or the director had no influence on the horse. Hilton had to be on set if the show was being filmed.
Hilton was a Will Rogers student and a well-known horse trainer in Hollywood.
Bamboo Harvester Won Several Animal Acting Awards – All Of Which Are True
Bamboo Harvester received numerous awards for his outstanding performance in the Mister Ed series. His PATSY Award collection includes first, second, and third place prizes, all of which were given out during the show’s heyday in the 1960s.
The PATSY awards are intended to recognize animal performers in the entertainment industry. From 1951 to 1973, Mister Ed won four consecutive PATSYs.
PATSY is an abbreviation for Performing Animal Top Star Of The Year. Lassie, Benji, Francis the Talking Mule, and Tramp the dog are among the other famous recipients.
He had a fantastic trainer.
Under Hilton’s tutelage, Bamboo Harvester blossomed into a talented actor. According to legend, the horse only missed one day of shooting during his entire career.
Unlike his animal counterparts, who frequently required multiple similar-looking animals to be cast in the same role, the Palamino who played Mr. Ed stood alone.
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The key to his success was undoubtedly his training. At a time when most animal actors were cruelly beaten or drugged into submission to get the perfect shot, Hilton was a gentle animal lover who never struck the horse. Instead, he used whips to direct the horse’s movement. A whip held out to the left meant go left, a whip held out to the right meant go right, and so on.
Mr. Ed in Real Life
There are numerous amusing quotes from the Mr. Ed series. “Well, time to hit the hay… oh, I forgot, I ate it,” is one of my favorites. Bamboo Harvester may have had a sense of humor similar to Mr. Ed from the television show.
When the horse had had enough of filming for the day, he simply walked off the set, and the day’s shooting was completed without the star of the show.
Mr. Ed’s Death Has Sparked Controversy
Alan Young would go visit Bamboo Harvester at Hilton’s ranch in California after the show had ended and ride with him.
Unfortunately, that bond was cut short when Bamboo Harvester died in 1970 from kidney disease and arthritis. Furthermore, his death is not without controversy.
To begin, Bamboo Harvester had a publicity horse and stunt double, Pumpkin, during the television series. After Bamboo Harvester died, CBS continued to use the Quarter Horse gelding as “Mr. Ed” in media shoots.
The average television viewer was unaware of Pumpkin, and they mistook which horse was which, as well as believing that Bamboo Harvester – the Mr. Ed they saw on television – had died in 1970. Pumpkin was also a star in his own right, appearing on Green Acres, another popular CBS television series.
Then, when Pumpkin died in 1979 and his death was reported in the media, many mistook his death for Mr. Ed’s, and the controversy began.
Bamboo Harvester or Pumpkin, one of the horses, ended up in Oklahoma at some point in their lives. Mr. Ed’s grave marker is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and it continues to draw visitors from the show every year to pay their respects to the horse, even though it is unclear if it is the grave of Bamboo Harvester, Pumpkin, or a convenient place to leave the marker.
In 1990, a granite marker recognizing it as Mr. Ed’s final resting place replaced the wood cross, and it is still a popular destination for horse and show fans.
A horse is in a horse.
Mr. Ed, and the mare who embodied him, Bamboo Harvester, were beloved by audiences and endeared themselves to them. Even though the show ended in 1966 – 55 years ago – many of us can still sing the jingle and recall a favorite scene, episode, or Mr. Ed quote.
Bamboo Harvester made a big impression on Hollywood and introduced many people to the marvelous personalities of horses.
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