Saturday, February 8, 2020

Orson Bean (1928–2020)

From a New York Times obituary for the actor and television personality Orson Bean:

While he eventually performed in some 50 television series and 30 films, he may be best remembered for his appearances on early panel shows, which, in contrast to the greed, noise and kitsch of many modern game shows, were low key, relatively witty and sophisticated.

“We were much more intelligent then,” Kitty Carlisle Hart, a frequent panelist with Mr. Bean, told The Times in 1999. “It sounds like an awful thing to say, but it’s true.”
Yes, it is.

When Miss Carlisle (as she was known) died in 2007, I wrote in a post,
She was one of the people who seemed to be living on television when I was a boy, along with Steve Allen, Peggy Cass, Arlene Francis, Phyllis Newman, and Nipsey Russell, friendly presences every weekday after school.
I should have remembered Orson Bean as well.

Here’s an entertaining episode of To Tell the Truth from 1964 with Orson Bean and friends.


February 9: Daughter Number Three has a post about Orson Bean’s later political life and his influence on Andrew Breitbart. See also this Hollywood Reporter article: “The men had a weekly meal together at Hal’s, a restaurant in Venice, and many point to those chats as the source for Andrew’s brand of populist-conservatism.” All the Times obituary says is that Bean’s daughter Susie married Breitbart, with no reference to Bean’s later-life swerve to the right. A Los Angeles Times obituary quotes Breitbart on Bean’s “sharp ideological metamorphosis.”

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