Tribute: Orson Bean Said ‘Mere Christianity’ Turned Him Around

Orson Bean in The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)

Celebrated Hollywood actor Orson Bean found Christianity through a stranger’s invitation to pray and C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, he revealed to Breitbart News back in 2014.

The beloved talk-show host and actor — and father-in-law of Andrew Breitbart — was killed by a car as he was trying to cross the street in Venice, CA, last Friday at the age of 91. While he struggled with happiness for much of his life, he eventually found it in his relationship with God.

“For most of my life I didn’t believe in God. Who had time?” Bean wrote for Powerline. “I was too busy with things of this world: getting ahead, getting laid, becoming famous.”

“I didn’t want to be famous for its own sake. I wanted to be famous so as to be happy,” he added.

And yet happiness turned out to be more elusive than Bean expected.

Fame did make him happy, for a while. “It got me laid and made me money and it was fun. I wanted more, so I graduated to drugs and booze. They worked, too, for a while (quite a long while, actually),” he said.

Then one day — Bean told Breitbart Radio — “it just stopped working and became nothing.”

He enrolled in a 12-step program and eventually asked a tough-looking member named Bobby: “What should I do?”

“Get down on your knees,” he told me, “and thank God every morning. Then, do it again at night.”

“But I don’t think I believe in God,” Bean retorted.

“It doesn’t matter,” Bobby said. “Just do it.”

“Why do I have to get down on my knees?”

“He likes it,” said Bobby. “And that’s all he said to me. He stood there looking at me for a minute and then I said OK and thanked him and he took off.”

Though he felt a little silly, that very night, Bean got down on his knees and said, “if there’s anybody up there, thank you for the day.” He said he slept like a log and in the morning got down on his knees again and said, “If there’s anybody there, thank you for my night’s sleep.”

“Little by little it stopped feeling foolish. I began to feel if my prayer was being heard… that whatever or whoever loved me,” Bean said.

Later Bean would read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and could finally tell himself, “I’ll buy that Jesus is the son of God.”

“And my life has gotten better and better,” Bean said. “That little prayer was what did it for me.”

“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an empty spot at the center of him, which must be filled in order to be really happy,” Bean said. “That spot, like it or not, is reserved for God” and only He can make you “lastingly happy.”

Requiesce in pace, Orson Bean.


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