Orson Bean, the comedian who became a star thanks to his appearances on To Tell The Truth and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and roles in countless TV shows, died Friday in a car accident in Venice, Los Angeles. He was 91 years old. His death left his fans and colleagues devastated.
Say a prayer for the legendary, hysterical, beloved Orson Bean tonight. He was my neighbor and my friend. He never stopped delighting audiences, even when it was just me getting the paper. He was as encouraging and inspiring and energetic a mentor as you could hope to meet.
— Phil Lord (@philiplord) February 8, 2020
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed Bean was the victim of a traffic accident in the Venice neighborhood Friday night, reports KTLA. Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Brian Wendling said he was “clipped” by a vehicle and fell. Another driver struck him. Both drivers stopped and waited until police arrived.
Devastated to hear of Orson Bean’s tragic accident last night… Please send prayers to his family, including his wife @AlleyMillsTweet who I’ve known since The Wonder Years. They were a beautiful couple. 😢💔 #RIPOrsonBean https://t.co/laZxpNIkwu pic.twitter.com/D4KPA0zSkk
— Danica McKellar (@danicamckellar) February 8, 2020
Bean was born in Burlington, Vermont and served in the military. After his military service, he pursued an entertainment career, first as a musician and then as a stand-up comedian in the early 1950s. He soon became a Tonight Show staple, even appearing on the show when Jack Paar was hosting. After Johnny Carson took over, Bean became a regular guest and appeared on the show more than 200 times.
R.I.P Orson Bean, tragically killed in a traffic accident yesterday ~ Being John Malkovich (1999) pic.twitter.com/yYsiKEKxQ8
— Samuel J. May (@sjmay92) February 8, 2020
Even as he continued to blaze a career on Broadway, he appeared on television frequently and also became a known celebrity through his game show appearances. He appeared on various iterations of To Tell The Truth, The $10,000 Pyramid, The Match Game, Tattletales, Showoffs, Celebrity Sweepstakes, He Said, She Said and You’re Putting Me On.
— Marcia Cross (@ReallyMarcia) February 8, 2020
In the 1990s, Bean starred in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as Loren Bray, appearing in 146 episodes from 1993 to 1998. After the show wrapped, he racked up guest appearances in The King of Queens, Ally McBeal, Will & Grace, 7th Heaven, Cold Case, Modern Family, Two and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives and Superstore. He never retired, making his final television appearance in the Grace and Frankie episode “The Scent” for Netflix.
So sad to hear we’ve lost the wonderful Orson Bean who came to Australia in 1968 to star in PROMISES, PROMISES (pictured here with Nancye Hayes). pic.twitter.com/URpFZsPo8C
— tony sheldon (@ttsheldy) February 8, 2020
Bean also starred in several movies, including Anatomy of a Murder, Being John Malkovich, Innerspace and Forty Deuce. He voiced Frodo and Bilbo in the 1980 TV animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Return of the King.
Oh rest in peace, Orson Bean. He was a real treasure as a performer and I had the pleasure of meeting him once or twice at my friend’s house. Hewas just as delightful and lovely and winning as a person. Sending my love to his sweet wife and all his family and friends.💔
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) February 8, 2020
Bean is survived by his third wife, Wonder Years actress Alley Mills; daughter, Michele, from his first marriage; and sons Max and Ezekiel and daughter Susannah from his second marriage.
Photo credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images