Connie Hines

"You know we have a whole new audience," Connie Hines said on "CBS This Morning" in 1991, after "Mister Ed" was aired on syndication and cable. "I still get letters and now they're from 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, and it's just wonderful." (Coulter-Straus Inc.)

Connie Hines, an actress who portrayed Carol Post, whose husband Wilbur was the only person who could talk with Mister Ed in the 1960s television show, has died. She was 79.

Hines died Friday at her home in Beverly Hills from complications of heart problems, said Alan Young, her "Mister Ed" costar. "I lost a great friend. She was always joyous," Young said Monday.

In the show, which ran from 1961 to 1966 on CBS, the Posts moved into a rambling country home and found a horse in their barn. The center of the show became the banter between Young and the horse, Mister Ed, which left Hines trying to make the most of her opportunities.

The part was "a tough chore," Young said. "She was a girl married to a fellow listening to a horse. Her biggest line was 'lunch is ready.' The rest of it was reacting to it. Connie never complained. How many actors would react that way?"

"Mister Ed" built a new generation of fans over the years with reruns airing on syndication and cable.


FOR THE RECORD:
Connie Hines obituary: The obituary of actress Connie Hines in Tuesday's Section A said she was born June 5, 1930, and was 79 when she died. Hines was born March 24, 1931, and was 78 at the time of her death. —



"You know we have a whole new audience," Hines said on "CBS This Morning" in 1991. "I still get letters and now they're from 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, and it's just wonderful. People stop me on the street and they say, you know, 'Thank you for being my baby-sitter.' "

Hines was born June 5, 1930, in Dedham, Mass. In Young's 2007 book “Mister Ed and Me and More,” Hines wrote a section about her career, describing her childhood in a show business family. "I was bitten by the bug when I played the part of Mary to my father's Clarence Day in 'Life With Father' on stage in Boston," Hines wrote.

After her first marriage ended in divorce, she moved to New York with a girlfriend who was a dancer and wanted to be on Broadway.

Hines got some work modeling and appearing in commercials, then landed a romantic leading role on the CBS anthology series "Rendezvous" that was shot in Europe.

"When I came back to New York, CBS told me I should go to Hollywood and would do very well there," Hines wrote. "So in 1959 with $200 in my pocket, and armed with two letters of introduction . . . I flew to Hollywood."

She won a role in the 1960 film "Thunder in Carolina,” which Hines called "a forgettable feature . . . about stock car racing," and some episodic television appearances in shows such as "The Millionaire" in 1959 and "Johnny Ringo," "Sea Hunt" and "Riverboat" in 1960; then she got her big break with "Mister Ed."

She didn't have a phone yet in her apartment, so when her agent said the producers were going to call, she waited for the news at a gas station. "I waited three hours for that call, having coffee after coffee after coffee," she told The Times in 1996.

After "Mister Ed" ended, Hines worked on TV sporadically, including "Medical Center," "The Mod Squad" and "Bonanza."

In 1970, she married Lee Savin, an entertainment lawyer and producer. They retired to Dana Point in 1989 on the recommendation of Young, who had been living there. Hines hosted a local cable access show about animals, interviewing veterinarians and animal behaviorists and offering animals for adoption.

Young and Hines performed together in 1996 in Irvine in "Love Letters," which deals with the correspondence of a man and woman over 50 years.

Savin died in 1995.

keith.thursby@latimes.com