LOS ANGELES -- Orson Bean, the actor and comedian who enlivened the game show To Tell the Truth and played a crotchety merchant on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, was hit and killed Friday night on a Los Angeles street, authorities said. He was 91.
The Los Angeles County coroner's office confirmed Bean's death, saying it was being investigated as a "traffic-related" fatality. The coroner's office provided the location where Bean was found, which matched reports from police.
A man was crossing the road outside a crosswalk in the Venice neighborhood when he was clipped by a vehicle and fell, Los Angeles police officer Drake Madison said. A second driver then hit him in what police say was the fatal strike. Both drivers remained at the scene, neither was impaired and Bean's death was being treated as an accident, Madison said.
Bean appeared in a number of films -- notably, Anatomy of a Murder and Being John Malkovich -- and starred in several top Broadway productions, receiving a Tony nod for the 1962 Comden-Green musical Subways Are for Sleeping. But fans remembered him most for his many TV appearances from the 1950s onward.Gallery: Orson Bean, 1928-2020
Born in Burlington, Vt., in 1928 as Dallas Frederick Burrows, he never lost the Yankee accent that proved a perfect complement to the dry, laconic storytelling that established him as popular humorist. He had picked the stage name Orson Bean "because it sounded funny."
His father, George, was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and Bean recalled later that his "house was filled with causes." But he left home at 16 after his mother died by suicide.
Bean's quick wit and warm personality made him a favorite panelist for six years on To Tell the Truth. The game required the panelists to quiz three contestants to figure out which one was a real notable and which two were impostors.
Bean's style appealed to both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, and he appeared on The Tonight Show more than 200 times.
But his early career was hobbled for a time when he found himself on the Hollywood blacklist in the early years of the Cold War.
"Basically I was blacklisted because I had a cute communist girlfriend," he explained in a 2001 interview. "I stopped working on TV for a year."
The blacklist didn't stop him in the theater. Bean starred on Broadway as a timid fan magazine writer in George Axelrod's 1955 Hollywood spoof Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? alongside Jayne Mansfield and Walter Matthau. He also starred on Broadway with Maureen O'Sullivan in Never Too Late and with Melina Mercouri in Illya Darling, based on her hit film Never on Sunday.
Bean took a break from his career for a time in the 1970s when he dropped out and moved to Australia, where he lived a hippie lifestyle. But he returned to the U.S. and -- after a period as a self-described "house-husband" -- resumed his career.
"I got sick of contemplating my navel and staring up at the sky and telling myself how wonderful it was not to be doing anything," he explained in a 1983 interview with The New York Times.
In the 1990s, he played the shopkeeper Loren Bray on the long-running drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He remained active on the screen in recent years with guest shots in such shows as Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family.
A Section on 02/09/2020
Print Headline: Vehicles strike, kill actor Bean