MYTH: Mr. Ed was a horse/Mr. Ed was a zebra
Here’s the story.
You may have a hard time believing this one but the lovable Mr. Ed, the talking horse, was not a horse at all. The original horse that was cast was so bad at performing on cue, the series came very close to not even happening due to the majority of the already tight budget for the show being spent trying to get the problem horse actor to act.
Enter “Amelie” the zebra to save the day. Yes that’s correct, Mr. Ed was in fact a female zebra. A park in Thousand Oak, CA called Jungleland happened to have a trained Grevy’s zebra and with a hefty donation to the park by the producers, they were allowed to use Amelie for their show. But how could they pull off making a zebra look like a horse without changing the name to Mr. Ed, the talking zebra? Well, they didn’t say anything. And with all the televisions back then being black and white, no one could tell the difference. It is difficult to resolve closely integrated black and white lines on a black and white television. As a funny side note, when Johnny Cash was performing at Folsom prison, many of the inmates who were wearing the traditional black and white prison garb slipped passed guards who were viewing the performance on black & white security monitors. Anyone know if this is why the switch to orange jumpsuits was made?
Later on and whenever Mr. Ed was to make a public appearance or have a photo shoot a palomino horse by the name of Bamboo Harvester was used, and this horse basically took all the fame from poor Amelie. But luckily she was a zebra and simply did not care.
But now the twist. There is also apparently a Mr. Ed Zebra hoax. This myth about the zebra may not be true at all. I have found sources that say both. But apparently, Snopes will try to trick you from time to time. I’ve read the Zebra story in a lot of different places and now I’m seeing another side where it could be completely false, so who knows what to believe anymore?