Who was Alan Young?
American television shows are not just known for their fine scripts, but also their great actors and hosts. Alan Young is one such actor who has been a part of American television since its early days. Alan had a great role to play in making stand-up comedies and sitcoms popular even four decades back, when the world wasn’t as advanced as today. After doing many gigs on radio, Alan ventured into television. He won the hearts of both audiences and critics with the ‘Alan Young Show’. The show also won him quite a few awards, including the prestigious Emmy Award. The onscreen chemistry he shared with a horse in the show ‘Mister Ed’ has made him immortal in the hearts of many sitcom fans. Unlike most other comedians of his time, Alan didn’t just stick to his comfort zone of acting, he also ventured into filmmaking and screenwriting. Alan has also dubbed his voice for various famous animated television shows. Even after being in the world of glamour for over five decades, Alan is still as passionate about his craft as he was when he started his career.
Childhood & Early Life
Alan Young was born on 19 November 1919 to Florence Pinckney and John Cathcart Young in North Shields, England. Alan’s father worked at a dockyard, whereas his mother’s ancestors were involved in the American freedom struggle.
Alan, along with his parents, moved to Scotland first and later relocated to Canada. At a very young age he was diagnosed with Asthma, which left him bedridden for quite a while. During this time, Alan frequently listened to the radio, which motivated him to pursue a career in the same.
Alan made his debut on radio at the tender age of 13. After a few years, he wrote and performed on his exclusive show for radio.
During World War II, Alan tried to join the Royal Canadian Navy and then the Canadian Army, but wasn't able to make the cut because of his poor health.
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For almost a decade, starting from 1944, Alan grabbed the attention of the American audiences through the ‘Alan Young Show’. The show first started on radio and then moved to television. This sitcom saw Young portray the role of a Bank Teller, and won much acclaim for his work.
In 1946, Alan stepped into the world of Cinema. He made his debut through the film ‘Margie’ which released that year. This romantic comedy flick saw Alan play a small role, that of Roy Hornsdale.
In 1949, Alan starred in another film named ‘Chicken Every Sunday’, yet another comedy film where his work went largely unnoticed.
By 1951, the ‘Alan Young Show’ had become one of the most popular shows of American television history back then. It was during the same time that Alan grabbed a big opportunity in the form of ‘Androcles and The Lion’. The movie saw him play the lead role.
The rest of the 1950’s saw Alan Young appear in several films such as ‘Gentlemen Marry Brunettes’, ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘The Time Machine’.
The highlight of Alan’s career was the show ‘Mister Ed’. This series which was aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966 saw Alan portray the role of Wilbur Post—one of his best works till date.
Other than acting, Alan also offered his services to the entertainment industry as a voiceover artist. In 1983, he was known as the onscreen voice of the famous cartoon character ‘Ronald McDuck’. McDuck is the lead character of animated series such as ‘Duck Tales’ and ‘The Christmas Carol’.
Alan has also dubbed for other animated shows such as ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘Spiderman and His Amazing Friends’ and ‘The New Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo Show’.
Alan starred in the 1991 adaption of the famous musical play ‘Show Boat’, which was originally written in the early years of the 20th century.
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Alan shared screen space with famous Hollywood actor Eddie Murphy in the film ‘Beverly Hills Cop III’. This movie which was released in 1994 saw Alan essay the role of Dave Thorton, the owner of an amusement park.
Alan also has essayed a variety of roles in animated shows such as ‘House of Mouse’, ‘Static Shock’, ‘Duckman’, ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, and most importantly ‘Talespin’.
Other than the widely acclaimed ‘The Alan Young Show’, one of Alan’s other famous works is ‘Androcles and The Lion’. This film which is an adaptation of a play conceived by famous theatre person George Bernard Shaw, saw Alan play the protagonist ‘Androcles’. The movie revolves around a fugitive Christian tailor, who tries to escape the wrath of Roman persecutors.
Alan Young became a household name because of his performance on the famous television show ‘Mister Ed’. This show which was aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966 saw Alan portray the role of an architect called Wilbur Post. The story revolved around Wilbur and his horse Mister Ed. The chemistry between the two was well appreciated by audiences and critics alike.
Awards & Achievements
Alan Young won the prestigious ‘Primetime Emmy’ Award in 1951 in the ‘Best Actor’ category. He was also nominated in the ‘Most Outstanding Personality’ category at the same ceremony in 1951.
He was nominated for a ‘Grammy Award’ in 1977 in the category ‘Best Recording for Children’ for the animated series ‘A Christmas Carol’.
In 2003, Alan Young won awards for the film ‘Em & Me’ at the San Diego and Monaco International Film Festivals. Both these awards were for ‘Best Actor’.
In 2005, Alan Young was honoured with a ‘TV Land Award’ in recognition of the role of Wilbur Post, which he had played in the hit American television series of 1961, ‘Mister Ed’.
Alan Young also has his name inscribed on the famous ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’, located at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard.
Personal Life & Legacy
Alan Young was married three times. He first got married to Mary Anne Grimes in 1941. Alan and Mary divorced in 1947. Alan has two children from this first marriage.
Alan next got married to Virginia Mccurdy in 1948. This relationship lasted a little more than four decades, and ended in 1995.
Alan, later got married to a woman named Mary Chipman for a period of just one year, from 1996 to 1997.
Alan has penned his autobiography titled ‘Mister Ed and me and More’, which was released in 2007. Alan has apparently described few incidents of his life in a really humorous way, through this book.
Alan’s original name was Angus, which he legally changed later. It’s being claimed that people started referring to him as ‘Agnus’ and many similar funny names, which prompted him to go for a change.