Orson Bean, a Tony nominee for his performance as Charlie Smith in the early 1960s musical comedy Subways Are for Sleeping, has died at age 91. An actor of the stage and screen, Mr. Bean was also a television personality, the founder of a school for children, an art collector, theatre producer, nightclub comedian, author, and former magician.
Mr. Bean, who was born July 22, 1928, in Burlington, Vermont, died February 7. According to the New York Times, he was struck by a car in a traffic incident in Los Angeles.
Mr. Bean was seen on Broadway several times throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's Subways Are For Sleeping (1961), his other credits included Richard Condon's Men of Distinction (1953), which marked his Broadway debut, Jerry Ross and Richard Adler's John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953), George Axelrod's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955), Herman Wouk's Nature's Way (1957), Sumner Arthur Long's Never Too Late (1962), Edwin O'Conner's I Was Dancing (1964), and Jules Dassin, Manos Hadjidakis, and Joe Darion's Illya Darling, the musical adaptation of Never on a Sunday.
Also seen in the City Center production of Mr. Roberts and Off-Broadway's Say Darling, Mr. Bean was also a producer of avant-garde Off-Broadway plays. His production of the pop-art musical, Home Movies, won three Obie Awards.
As a comedian and television personality, Mr. Bean was frequently seen on CBS' To Tell the Truth, and popped up as a recurring guest on Super Password, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Merv Griffin Show, among others. In 1954, he hosted his own show, The Blue Angel.
He went on to have a robust television career, taking on roles in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Murder, She Wrote, Ally McBeal, Normal, Ohio, 7th Heaven, Desperate Housewives, and, the most recent, Grace and Frankie. His film credits included the Oscar-nominated Being John Malkovich and Anatomy of a Murder, as well as the Oscar-winning Innerspace.
Mr. Bean was also the author of the memoir, Too Much is Not Enough (1988), the book Me and the Orgone (1971), and a second memoir, Mail for Mikey (2008), in which he traced his recovery from addiction.
In 1964, Mr. Bean founded the 15th Street School, a progressive Manhattan school for children where a lot of classes were optional. He ran the school for many years, another example of a life that spanned multitudes and a variety of talents.