Stage and screen actor Orson Bean, whom Time magazine called “a unique American personality,” has died at the age of 91. He was the victim of a traffic accident near his home in Las Angeles, California, according to a report from the LA Police Department.
Mr. Bean began his entertainment career while stationed with American Occupation Forces in Japan in 1946.
In his 1988 memoir “Too Much is Not Enough,” he recalled that he grew bored of standing in line at the mess hall and would improvise comedy monologue lampooning his commanding officers. When one of those officers accidentally heard his routine, he was transferred to the USO to entertain troops in the Far East.
In the 1950s Bean became ubiquitous on television game shows and live dramatic presentations. Making his home in New York City, he became active in education and founded the famous 15th Street School in Manhattan, where kindergarten and first grade children were encouraged to develop their own rules and curriculum.
A quick wit, one of his most famous quips occured when he saw a famous producer at a Hollywood cocktail party, and said “There but for the grace of God, goes God.”
Bean was a founding member of The Sons of the Desert, the official fan club for Laurel and Hardy.