Connie Hines, a star who let Mr. Ed do the talking

AP News
Posted: Dec 24, 2009 7:52 PM

He had the talking horse. Now all Alan Young had to do was find the right woman to play his wife on television's "Mr. Ed."

It was a task made simple, the veteran actor said Thursday, the moment he met a young actress named Connie Hines who had moved to Hollywood just two years before and had only a handful of TV appearances on her resume.

"I was one of the people in the room when we were auditioning for the part," Young, 90, told The Associated Press. "When Connie Hines walked in, we all just looked at each other before she even started speaking and said, 'This is the girl.' She just exuded something _ fresh air, I guess you could call it _ that we knew would make her perfect for the part."

Hines, who died a week ago at age 78, went on to make a lasting impact on a generation of Baby Boomers as Carol Post, the pretty, perky, young newlywed who never let it bother her that her husband, Wilbur, was seen by everybody else as a nut case with a horse he thought could talk only to him.

"I could talk about that horse all day long," Young said of stories about Mr. Ed, the golden palomino whose voice was provided by Allan "Rocky" Lane. "And I could talk about Connie all week long."

Forty-three years after the long-running show went off the air, Young says he is still asked two questions almost every day: "How did Mr. Ed talk, and is Connie as pretty as she looked on TV."

He keeps mum on the first question. He answers the second with one word: "Yes."

The two remained lifelong friends after the show left the air in 1966, appearing together from time to time in the play "Love Letters" for various charitable fundraisers Hines was promoting.

Active in causes for animals, Hines and her husband, Lee Savin, hosted a cable access show in the 1990s in which they helped find homes for animals and interviewed veterinarians and animal behavior experts.

After Savin died in 1995, Young said he persuaded Hines, who was devastated by the loss, to accompany him to autograph-signing shows so she could learn how much the public still loved her.

"It was, and continues to be, a warm and gratifying experience to see generations of fans coming to celebrate Mister Ed," she said in a chapter Young asked her to write for his 2007 book, "Mr. Ed and Me and More."

The child of actors, Hines grew up in Dedham, Mass., where she was chosen the most popular girl at Dedham High School. She said she fell in love with acting as a child after appearing opposite her father in the play "Clarence Day."

After a brief time acting and modeling in New York, she moved to Los Angeles in 1959 and began appearing on such television shows as "Whirlybirds," "Johnny Ringo" and "Sea Hunt."

Young said a memorial service is scheduled for Jan. 15.

(This version CORRECTS Alan Young's age to 90.)