Ed's stunt double Pumpkin was a quarter horse, but looked very much like Ed, except for a gold spot in the middle of his white blaze. This spot was covered with white make-up when he worked as Ed's replacement.
CBS refused to put the production on its network in its initial premiere in 1960, so the Studebaker Corp. purchased this show and put it into syndication. It was an instant hit, and CBS bought it a year later.
In an interview with Alan Young (I), he said he had dark blonde hair in real life. On black-and-white film, his hair color blended into the color of Mr. Ed too much. The make-up artist had Connie Hines (I)' hairdresser dye his hair dark so he would stand out. After the show ended, Young let his hair go back to its natural color.
The lyrics to the famous theme song ("A horse is a horse, of course, of course ...") played over the opening and closing credits were introduced in Season 1, Episode 8. The first seven episodes used only an instrumental version of the song.
This show was produced, initially, by George Burns' McCadden Productions. Burns later said that he hired Alan Young for the part of Wilbur Post because he "just seemed like the sort of guy a horse would talk to."
Arthur Lubin, producer and most frequent director, and Larry Keating had been involved in another series starring a talking equine, Francis the Talking Mule. Keating appeared in Francis Goes to the Races (1951); Lubin directed this and five other Francis films.
AP News item, April 22, 1963: Television's talking horse Mister Ed and Walt Disney's canine film star Big Red won Patsy awards as top animal performers of 1962. The awards were presented Saturday by the American Humane Society.
The horse that played Mr. Ed is said to have died in 1979 at the age of thirty, thirty-three, or thirty-four (depending on the source). Other, equally reputable sources, give the horse's date of death as 1968, 1973, and 1974.
Mr. Ed was a horse, not a zebra. The Snopes article saying he was a zebra is in their "The Lost Legends" section, which is a joke section "confirming" the really odd or silly stories out there, such as Mr. Ed being a zebra. As Snopes wrote, "We created The Repository of Lost Legends (TRoLL for short) for those of you who don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."
Alan Young (I) revealed during an interview with the Archive of American Television that after being asked again and again about the show's secret of how Mr. Ed "talked" that he once started a lie when he answered with another question: "Well, when you were a kid, did you ever get peanut butter stuck under your lip?", and the listener jumped to the conclusion, "Oh, that's how it's done!" But Young said that wasn't true at all.
Animating the horse's mouth whenever Mister Ed spoke proved too expensive so, to get the horse to move its lips in a semblance of human speech, its mouth was reportedly slathered with peanut butter before each take.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
How Mr. Ed really talked: In his 2001 interview for the Archive of American Television, Alan Young (I) revealed the secret. "Lester [Lester Hilton,, the horse's trainer] had a knack. He used a soft nylon thread put under the lip [of Mr. Ed] and then he had the end going down the bridle, and you just gave it a little tug, and Ed tried to get rid of it; that was his cue." But Ed was a smart horse. For the second year, he already knew it was expected of him to move his lips whenever Alan stopped talking and he frequently did. Sometimes he moved his mouth also when Alan was riding him.