An icon of comedy from the Golden Age of Television
Orson Bean, the witty actor and comedian, was hit and killed by a car in Los Angeles, authorities said. He was 91.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office confirmed Bean’s Friday night death, saying it was being investigated as a “traffic-related” fatality. The coroner’s office provided the location where Bean was found, which matched reports from CBS Los Angeles.
A man was walking in the Venice neighborhood when he was clipped by a vehicle and fell, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Brian Wendling initially told local stations. A second driver then struck him in what police say was the fatal collision. Both drivers remained on the scene. Police were investigating and didn’t identify the pedestrian to local outlets, which named Bean based on eyewitness accounts.
Bean enlivened such TV game shows as “To Tell the Truth” and played a crotchety merchant on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
He appeared in a number of films – notably, “Anatomy of a Murder” and “Being John Malkovich” – and starred in several top Broadway productions, receiving a Tony nod for the 1962 Comden-Green musical “Subways Are for Sleeping.” But fans remembered him most for his many TV appearances from the 1950s onward.
“Mr. Bean’s face comes wrapped with a sly grin, somewhat like the expression of a child when sneaking his hand into the cookie jar,” The New York Times noted in a review of his 1954 variety show, “The Blue Angel.” It said he showed “a quality of being likable even when his jokes fall flat.”
Born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1928 as Dallas Frederick Burrows, he never lost the Yankee accent that proved a perfect complement to the dry, laconic storytelling that established him as popular humorist. He had picked the stage name Orson Bean “because it sounded funny.”