For an actor, to have a successful TV show is an already impressive feat, but to strike gold twice and have two successful shows is a whole other thing altogether. Especially when said shows are nearly a generation apart from each other. Well, for Alan Young such a feat was accomplished.
Originally well known for his role as Wilbur Post in the TV Show “Mister Ed” alongside a horse whose character’s namesake was the title, Alan Young won the hearts of audiences as the klutzy yet genial architect who somehow seems to be the only person the horse could talk to. As a result the show had the two leads playing as a comedy duo, where the horse’s knack for making trouble and having a very human behavior was the most fun part of the series, along with the fact that other characters would hear Wilbur talk to Ed and wonder who he was talking to. In addition, Wilbur being accident-prone and inadvertently causing harm to himself and others was another running gag.
The show ran from January 5, 1961 until February 6 of 1966 and was one of the few shows to debut in syndication and be picked up by a major network for prime time.
But even as iconic as that show was, Alan Young would find his career go into a whole new direction when he got into voice-acting for animation, particularly when he was cast as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in 1974. However, it would hit another high point when Alan voiced the character in the TV Show “DuckTales” from 1987 to 1990 for the Disney Afternoon, as well as reprising the role in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”. As such, Alan Young had become the official voice actor for Scrooge McDuck for many years after that, even voicing the character in the Kingdom Hearts series and most recently, “DuckTales Remastered” and the Mickey Mouse cartoon episode “Goofy’s First Love” in 2015.
Although he would also voice characters like Farmer Smurf from “The Smurfs” and Hiram Flaversham in Disney’s “The Great Mouse Detective”, Scrooge McDuck still remains the most popular animated character of all of Alan’s voice-over roles, and it isn’t hard to see why: Alan’s characterization of Scrooge gave us fans somebody that can be charming yet haughty, but when the chips are down he will step up and do the right thing, and it all feels in character and isn’t artificial in any way. As such even when Scrooge is being overbearing it doesn’t take away his likeability, which is no easy task.
Now even though Alan is no longer with us, let us all celebrate the legacy he left behind in the body of work he did in his life, as well as the two notable shows that put him on the map, especially the role that we animation fans know him for.