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In celebration of a life fully lived, memorial services will be held on March 14, 2020 for Orson Bean (1928 – 2020). A consummate raconteur, actor, voice artist, writer, and undisputed triple threat on stage, Orson Bean has been a familiar name to people across the country for decades.
His 2015 “up close and personal” solo show Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean, gave audiences not only a look into the heart of this multi-awarded entertainer, but into a generation that created the foundation for Broadway and Hollywood as it is today.
On February 7th Mr. Bean was struck by two cars while crossing Venice Boulevard, on his way to Pacific Resident Theatre to meet his wife, Alley Mills, and attend a show at one of PRT’s three performance spaces. He was pronounced dead at the scene before 8:00 pm. Mills stayed by his side as a group of friends, fans, and members of the theatre community gathered for a spontaneous memorial.
Orson Bean (born Dallas Burrows) began his career as a magician at age 12. He played clubs in Philadelphia and Boston, headlining as a stand-up comedian before heading to New York City. In New York, he quickly got a job as a regular at the Blue Angel night club. Bean starred on Broadway for twenty years, winning a Theater World Award and garnering a Tony Award nomination; Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He received a SAG Award nomination for his performance in the film “Being John Malkovich,” appeared in “Equalizer 2” with Denzel Washington, “Anatomy of a Murder,” and others. Orson’s stage career included starring roles in the Broadway production of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (along with Walter Matthau and Jayne Mansfield), Subways Are for Sleeping, Never Too Late, and Illya Darling.
As a comic, he appeared over 200 times on The Tonight Show, approximately one hundred times as substitute host. As a guest star, and guest host he was seen on numerous game shows, and on To Tell The Truth for eight years. Bean appeared in TV cult favorites Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Forever Fernwood. For seven years, he portrayed the storekeeper, Loren Bray, on the popular western drama, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Mr. Bean recently appeared on Modern Family and played Roy Bender, Karen McCluskey’s husband on the three final seasons of Desperate Housewives. He beat Charlie Sheen with a cane on Two and a Half Men, but “it seems to have done Charlie no good,” said Bean. His final appearance on stage was starring with his wife, Alley Mills, in an extended sold-out run of the world premiere Bad Habits by Steve Mazur. The show ran November 22, 2019 – January of 2020 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, CA. Bean often starred in local productions on L.A. stages, particularly at Pacific Resident Theatre where he was a supportive member for over 25 years, along with his wife Alley Mills.
Orson Bean is survived by his beloved wife Alley Mills, his ex-wife Jacqueline de Sibour (divorced 1962) and their daughter Michele, ex-wife Carolyn Maxwell (divorced 1981), their three children Max, Susannah, Ezekiel, and nine grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations are gratefully appreciated for two of Orson Bean’s favorite entities, the Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church, 400 East Kelso Street, Inglewood, CA 90301, and Pacific Resident Theatre, P.O. Box 568, Venice, CA 90294.