Thursday, August 16, 2018

“Mr. Ed”: Hollywood Meets Mister Ed

Mister Ed’s success gave him the pull to get big name celebrities to make guest starring appearances on his show. One of the first was George Burns.

As a producer and the man who financed the pilot, George Burns had a financial reason for doing the show. His decision to finance the show had originally earned him little more than scorn from his fellow Hollywood denizens who mocked his talking horse show. After the show’s success, however, Burns had proved them all wrong and his guest starring role as himself was like a victory lap for him.

When Mae West signed onto the show, the gossip mongers theorized that she had taken herself out of mothballs because, like Chico Marx, she needed the money. It was true that Mae West had been out of pictures for years, choosing to retire after the Hayes Code made her trademark ribald situations and double entendres impossible to include in films, but Ms. West had invested her money wisely. Her legendary penthouse sat atop a luxury Hollywood apartment building that she owned outright, renting out the other apartments to wealthy celebrities and studios. She did spend money a bit lavishly, reportedly buying new cars every year and selling the old ones to friends for $1, but she could afford to spend as she wished, leaving behind an estate valued in excess of $75 Million. So why did she agree to star with Mister Ed? Only Mae knows for sure, but she possibly sensed that the Hayes Production Code was on its last legs and thus tested the waters to see if she could triumphantly return to Hollywood once her favored risqué types of films could be released again.

It was no secret why Zsa Zsa Gabor did her guest stint. Ms. Gabor was the prototype for useless celebutantes who were famous for being famous. She would attend the opening of a screen door if the paparazzi were involved. Mister Ed was a way for her to get more exposure and keep her name out there.