Orson Bean (born Dallas Frederick Burrows; July 22, 1928) is an American film, television, and stage actor, as well as a comedian, writer, and producer. He appeared frequently on televised game shows from the 1960s through the 1980s and was a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth.
Bean in 1965
Dallas Frederick Burrows
July 22, 1928
Burlington, Vermont, United States
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer, producer|
Alley Mills (m. 1993), and two others
Orson Bean was born in Burlington, Vermont, the son of Marian Ainsworth (née Pollard) and George Frederick Burrows. His father was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a fund-raiser for the Scottsboro Boys' defense, and a 20-year member of the campus police of Harvard College. Among his other relatives is Calvin Coolidge, who was president of the United States at the time of his birth and was his third cousin twice removed. Bean graduated from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School; and between 1946 and the end of 1947, he served 18 months in the United States Army. While stationed in postwar Japan, he developed and refined a magic act during his off-duty hours.
Following his military service, Bean began working in small venues as a stage magician before transitioning in the early 1950s to stand-up comedy. He studied theatre at HB Studio It was during that time when he stopped using his birth name professionally and adopted the stage name Orson Bean. In an interview on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1974, Bean recounted the source of his new name. He credited its origin to a piano player named Val at "Hurley's Log Cabin", a restaurant and nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts, where he had once performed. According to Bean, every evening before he went on stage at the nightclub, Val would suggest to him a silly name to use when introducing himself to the audience. One night, for example, the piano player suggested "Roger Duck", but the young comedian got very few laughs after using that name in his performance. On another night, however, the musician suggested "Orson Bean", and the comedian received a great response from the audience, a reaction so favorable that it resulted in a job offer that same evening from a local theatrical booking agent. Given his success on that occasion, Bean decided to keep using the odd-sounding but memorable name.
In 1952, Bean made a guest appearance on NBC Radio's weekly hot-jazz series The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street. His vocal mannerisms were ideal for the mock-serious tone of the show, and he became the show's master of ceremonies ("Dr. Orson Bean") for its final season. Bean was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show (with both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson), and appeared on game shows originating from New York. He was a regular panelist on To Tell the Truth in versions from the late 1950s through 1991. On July 5, 1965, his father appeared as a subject of the panel and he had to disqualify himself from participating. He appeared on Super Password and Match Game, among other game shows. He hosted a pilot for a revamped version of Concentration in 1985, which was picked up later on in 1987 as Classic Concentration with Alex Trebek.
Although Bean was placed on the Hollywood blacklist for attending Communist Party meetings while dating a member, he continued to work through the 1950s and 60s. He played the title character in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode "Mr. Bevis". In 1961, for the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson, he starred as John Monroe in "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of the American humorist James Thurber.
On Broadway he starred in the original cast of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in 1955. Then, in 1961, he was featured in Subways Are for Sleeping, for which he received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as performing in Never Too Late the following year. In 1964, he produced the Off-Off-Broadway musical Home Movies—which won an Obie Award—and the same year appeared in the Broadway production I Was Dancing. He also voiced and sang the role of Charlie Brown on MGM's original 1966 concept album of the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and starred in Illya Darling, the 1967 musical adaptation of the film Never on Sunday.
Bean was a regular in both Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and its spin-off Fernwood 2Nite. He also portrayed the shrewd businessman and storekeeper Loren Bray on the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman throughout its six-year run on CBS in the 1990s. He played John Goodman's homophobic father on the sitcom Normal, Ohio. He played the main characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the 1977 and 1980 Rankin/Bass animated adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and The Return of the King. He also played Dr. Lester in Spike Jonze's 1999 film, Being John Malkovich.
Bean appeared as a patient in the final two episodes of 7th Heaven's seventh season in 2003. In 2005, Bean appeared in the sitcom Two and a Half Men in an episode titled "Does This Smell Funny to You?", playing a former playboy whose conquests included actresses Tuesday Weld and Anne Francis. He appeared in the 2007 How I Met Your Mother episode "Slapsgiving" as Robin Scherbatsky's 41-year-old boyfriend, Bob. In 2009 he was cast in the recurring role of Roy Bender, a steak salesman, who is Karen McCluskey's love interest on the ABC series Desperate Housewives. At the age of 87, Bean in 2016 appeared in "Playdates", an episode of the American TV sitcom Modern Family. He appeared in a 2017 episode of Teachers (TV Land, season 2, episode 11, "Dosey Don't"). He appeared as the elderly Holocaust survivor in the 2018 film The Equalizer 2.
An admirer of Laurel and Hardy, Bean, in 1964, served as a founding member of The Sons of the Desert, the international organization devoted to sharing information about the lives of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and studying and enjoying their films.
In 1966 he helped found the 15th Street School in New York City. A primary school using the radical democratic free school Summerhill as a model. Bean wrote an autobiographical account about his life-changing experience with the orgone therapy developed by Austrian-born psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. Published in 1971, the account is titled Me and the Orgone: The True Story of One Man's Sexual Awakening.
He has been married three times. His first marriage was in 1956 to actress Jacqueline de Sibour, whose stage name was Rain Winslow and who was the daughter of the French nobleman and pilot Vicomte Jacques de Sibour and his wife, Violette B. Selfridge (daughter of American-born British department-store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge). Before their divorce in 1962, Bean and Jacqueline had one child, Michele.
In 1965, he married actress and fashion designer Carolyn Maxwell with whom he had three children: Max, Susannah, and Ezekiel. The couple divorced in 1981. Their daughter Susannah married conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart (died 2012) in 1997. Bean's third wife is actress Alley Mills, 23 years his junior. They married in 1993, and live in Los Angeles.
|1952||Broadway Television Theatre||Robert Bennett / Erwin Trowbridge||2 episodes|
|1952||Westinghouse Studio One||Harvey B. Hines||Episode: "The Square Peg"|
|1954||Robert Montgomery Presents||Episode: "It Happened in Paris"|
|1954||Westinghouse Studio One||Joey||Episode: "Joey"|
|1955||The Best of Broadway||Mortimer Brewster||Episode: "Arsenic and Old Lace"|
|1955||The Elgin Hour||Arthur||Episode: "San Francisco Fracas"|
|1955||How to Be Very, Very Popular||Toby Marshall|
|1956||Omnibus||Episode: "The Best Year in the Whole History of the World"|
|1956||Westinghouse Studio One||Charlie Digger||Episode: "A Christmas Surprise"|
|1957||Kraft Television Theatre||Episode: "A Travel from Brussels"|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Jack Chesney||Episode: "Charley's Aunt"|
|1958||The Phil Silvers Show||Episode: "Bilko's Insurance Company"|
|1958||The Millionaire||Newman Johnson||Episode: "The Newman Johnson Story"|
|1959||Anatomy of a Murder||Dr. Matthew Smith|
|1959||Miracle on 34th Street||Dr. William Sawyer|
|1960||The Twilight Zone||James B.W. Bevis||Episode: "Mr. Bevis"|
|1961||The DuPont Show with June Allyson||John Monroe||Episode: "The Secret Life of James Turber"|
|1962||Naked City||Arnold Platt||Episode: "To Walk Like a Lion"|
|1954–1963||The United States Steel Hour||Dennis Kavanaugh / Eddie West / Lester||3 episodes|
|1964||Vacation Playhouse||Episode: "The Bean Show"|
|1966||The Star-Wagon||Stephen Minch|
|1970||A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court||Hank / Sir Boss (voice)|
|1970||Love, American Style||Episode: "Love and the Co-ed Dorm/Love and the Optimist/Love and the Teacher"|
|1970||NET Playhouse||Multiple Roles||Episode: "Helen Hayes Remembers"|
|1975||Ellery Queen||Warren Wright||Episode: "The Adventure of the Chinese Dog"|
|1977||Forever Fernwood||Reverend Brim|
|1977||The Hobbit||Bilbo Baggins|
|1978||Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman||Reverend Brim||Unknown episodes 1977–1978|
|1978||The Love Boat||Artie D' Angelo||Episode: "Heads or Tails/Little People, The/Mona of the Movies"|
|1980||The Return of the King||Frodo Baggins/Bilbo Baggins|
|1982||Forty Deuce||Mr. Roper|
|1982||One Life to Live||Harrison Logan||1 episode|
|1984||Garfield in the Rough||Billy Rabbit|
|1984||The Fall Guy||Jason Klemer||Episode: October 31|
|1986–1987||The Facts of Life||Oliver Thompson||3 episodes|
|1986–1989||Murder, She Wrote||Ebeneezer McEnery||2 episodes|
|1990||Instant Karma||Dr. Berlin|
|1990||Tiny Toon Adventures||Gepetto||Episode: "Fairy Tales for the 90's"|
|1991||Chance of a Lifetime||Fred|
|1992||Final Judgement||Monsignor Corelli|
|1992||Just My Imagination||Jeremy Stitcher|
|1993–1998||Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman||Loren Bray||146 episodes|
|1998||Diagnosis: Murder||Lewis Sweeney||Episode: "Obsession: Part 1"|
|1999||Thanks||Burnaby Fitzhugh||Episode: "Spring"|
|1999||Being John Malkovich||Dr. Lester|
|2000||Manhattan, AZ||Lew Goldberg||2 episodes|
|2000||Ally McBeal||Marty||Episode: "In Search of Pygmies"|
|2000||The King of Queens||Carl Tepper||Episode: "Surprise Artie"|
|2000||Family Law||Archbishop Phillips||Episode: "Possession Is Nine Tenths of the Law"|
|2000||Will & Grace||Professor Joseph Dudley||Episode: "There But for the Grace of Grace"|
|2000||Normal, Ohio||William 'Bill' Gamble, Sr.||7 episodes|
|2001||Burning Down the House||Sy|
|2001||The Gristle||Mr. Bowen|
|2002||Becker||Mr. Bennet||Episode: "Piece Talks"|
|2002||Frank McKlusky, C.I.||Mr Gafty|
|2003||7th Heaven||Patient / Mr. Hampton Impersonator||2 episodes|
|2004||Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'||John Forsythe|
|2004||Soccer Dog: European Cup||Mayor Milton Gallagher|
|2004||Cold Case||Harland Sealey||Episode: "Red Glare"|
|2005||Two and a Half Men||Norman||Episode: "Does This Smell Funny to You?"|
|2006||Alien Autopsy||Homeless Man|
|2006||Commander in Chief||Bill Harrison||Episode: "The Price You Pay"|
|2007||Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe||Raff Buddemeyer|
|2007||The Closer||Donald Baxter||Episode: "The Round File"|
|2007||The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman||Chick||Episode: "Good Times and Great Oldies"|
|2007||Women's Murder Club||Harold Grant||Episode: "Grannies, Guns and Love Mints"|
|2007||How I Met Your Mother||Bob||Episode: "Slapsgiving"|
|2009–2012||Desperate Housewives||Roy Bender||Recurring role, 23 episodes|
|2011||Hot in Cleveland||Dan||Episode: "Funeral Crashers"|
|2012||Love for Christmas aka A Golden Christmas||Mr. Cole|
|2016||Modern Family||Marty||Episode: "Playdates"|
|2016||The Guest Book||Edgar||Episode: "Story Eight"|
|2016||The Bold and the Beautiful||Howard||2 episodes|
|2016||Another Period||Laverne Fusselforth V||2 episodes|
|2017||Teachers||Jerry||Episode: "Dosey Don't"|
|2018||The Equalizer 2||Sam Rubinstein|
|2018||Superstore||Dr. Fogler||Episode: "Delivery Day"|
- At the Hungry i (1959 Fantasy UFAN 7009), comedy
- You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown (as Charlie Brown, 1966), comedy
- I Ate the Baloney (1969 Columbia CS 9743), comedy
- "George Burrows, 89, an A.C.L.U. Founder". The New York Times. April 15, 1989. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
- "Orson Bean Talks New Play, Being Blacklisted in the 1950s (Q&A)".
- HB Studio Alumni
- Interview with Orson Bean, "Johnny Carson 1974 05 10 Jack Palance", The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, first telecast on NBC on May 10, 1974; copy of full episode of the late-night talk show posted by Elfreda Arredondo on YouTube, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., Mountain View, California. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
- "To Tell the Truth – Orson's Dad".
- "Orson Bean". IBDB.com. Retrieved April 8, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown [Original concept Album] (1966) - Clark Gesner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuKCn9VEN8Y
- "Equalizer 2 Cast".
- "15th Street School". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Bean, Orson (1971). Me and the Orgone: The True Story of One Man's Sexual Awakening. American College of Orgonomy Press. ISBN 978-0967967011.
- Grafic Magazine, The Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 25, 1953.
- "Actress Wed to Orson Bean", The New York Times, August 21, 1956.
- "Frederick T. Bedford Is Dead; Industrialist and Yachtsman, 85", The New York Times, May 9, 1963.
- "Orson Bean". NNDB.com. Retrieved April 8, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Designer Will Create Style to Suit Wearer", The New York Times, April 22, 1964.
- You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown [Original concept Album] (1966) - Clark Gesner , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuKCn9VEN8Y