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Mister Ed and Francis the Mule Share Comedy Director

Do horses talk?  How about mules?

A recent episode of As It Was noted American actress Edna Skinner was best known for her role in the 1960’s’ TV series starring Mister Ed, the talking horse.  In mentioning Skinner’s acting career, the script writer mistakenly referred to Francis, a talking mule, instead of Mister Ed.

We are grateful to As It Was listener Pete Stang for catching our mistake.

However, Francis the mule may have inspired the writers of Mister Ed.  Francis, an Army mule, came first.  His confidant was an army soldier, Peter Stirling, and Mister Ed only talked to his straight-man, Wilbur Post.

Francis and Mister Ed also shared a common director, Universal Pictures comedy veteran Arthur Lubin, who directed six Francis films in the 1950’s and the Mister Ed television series in the 1960’s.

But can they really talk?  For himself, Mister Ed answers that question at the opening of each TV episode, when he looks out a stable window and sings, “A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.” 


Source: "Francis the Talking Mule." Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 19 Feb. 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_the_Talking_Mule. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

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Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.