Young’s parents eventually moved to West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and at the beginning of World War II, Young attempted to join the Royal Canadian Navy only to be rejected because of health problems. Alan then turned to his love of radio and became a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Young’s first Canadian radio show was Stag Party, a one-man show where he performed comedic acts. He was fired from that show when he asked for a raise, but went on to perform situation comedy for CBL, was later discovered by an agent and moved successfully into American radio. During Alan’s stint in Canada, he met and befriended Fletcher Markle, a man who made a name for him self in American radio and was later able to help Alan acquire parts.
In 1944, Alan decided to move to the United States, where The Alan Young Show replaced Eddie Cantor’s NBC show for the summer. It was a situation comedy that starred Alan as a shy young man (himself) and featured Jean Gillespie as his girlfriend, Betty, and Ed Begley as Betty’s father, Papa Dittenfeffer. In 1949, Louise Erikson played Betty and Jim Backus was cast as a stuck-up playboy, Hubert Updike, III. The bad thing about the Alan Young Show was that it got him typecast as geeky, shy and meek – a persona he was never able to shake for other roles.
The Jimmy Durante Show signed on Alan in 1948 along with Don Ameche. The radio show was a musical comedy starred big names like Georgia Gibbs, Arthur Treacher and Peggy Lee over the years from 1933 until 1950. Young was also cast on The Texaco Star Theater on ABC from 1947 until 1948 where he played alongside Tony Martin, Evelyn Knight, the Jeff Alexander Chorus, Victor Young Orchestra and Gordon MacRae. He also starred in episodes of Family Theater and Old Gold Comedy Theater.
Alan Young’s best known role was in television, where he played Wilbur Post, the master of a talking horse named Mr. Ed. Young had initially turned down the role, but after years of being unable to acquire other roles, took the part in 1961. The show lasted for five years and was cancelled in 1965. Alan then began to concentrate on the Christian Science movement and had little to do with show business afterwards.
Alan was heard as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in Disney’s cartoon, Mickey’s Christmas Carol and in 1988 Young accepted a part in Coming of Age, a sitcom about an Arizona retirement community. Since 1994, Young has been an active participant in the popular radio drama, Adventures in Odyssey.