'Desperate Housewives' Orson Bean's Third Wife Was 23 Years Younger Than Him and Also an Actress
Actress Alley Mills was introduced to her future husband Orson Bean by her mother. The couple was married for over a decade until his death. They even starred alongside each other in several projects.
Alley Mills is best known for her iconic role on the drama series “The Wonder Years,” where she played the family matriarch Norma Arnold. She was on the hit TV show from 1988 to 1993.
Her spouse Orson Bean was a renowned actor, having made over 100 appearances on television. Mills starred alongside Bean as Marjorie Quinn on the TV series “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.”
Orson Bean and his wife Alley Mills arrive at the premiere of "Equalizer 2" at the Chinese Theatre on July 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
She was a series regular on the sitcom “Yes Dear” and starred in the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” as Pamela Douglas from 2006 to 2019.
In November 2019, Daytime Confidential reported the Chicago native got taken off contract on the longtime series. Mills originated the role of Stephanie Forrester’s younger sister. She is now on recurring status.
Alley Mills arrives at the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California | Photo: Getty Images
In addition, Soaps In Depth reported Mills would still be seen on the show from time to time. She also told the magazine that she was grateful and looking forward to spending more time with her loved ones.
She collaborated with Bean in the play “Bad Habits” in 2020 at the Ruskin Theatre in Santa Monica, California. A Broadway World review of the show read:
"Mills and Bean seem to know how to push each other's buttons…Several scenes between these two are totally entertaining, and no doubt will continue to be a real draw to bring audiences in to see them together on stage."
Actor Orson Bean and actress Alley Mills arrive at the 2015 TV Land Awards at the Saban Theatre on April 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images
It further stated that their like-mindedness for their characters, including each other, was evident during their dialogues/arguments.
The duo also co-starred in the plays, including “There’s One in Every Marriage” and “Hogan’s Goat” at the Pacific Resident Theatre.
Actress Alley Mills walks the red carpet at the 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel on May 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
FACTS ABOUT HER
Mills is a Yale University graduate who studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She graduated in 1973.
While still in college in 1970, she scored a minor role in the movie “Diary of a Mad Housewife.” She got her first lead role in 1979 in a TV series about young lawyers called “The Associates.”
Her big break came when she bagged another lead role in the dramedy “The Wonder Years.” After the show ended, she continued to work on TV and made guest appearances in shows such as “NYPD Blue” (1993).
(L-R) Alley Mills, Heather Tom, Bradley Bell and Jacqueline Macinnes Wood arrive at the CBS Daytime Emmy After Party at the Alexandria Ballrooms on May 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
During her stint on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” Mills occasionally took time off to do theatre work in Los Angeles. Her beloved spouse often accompanied her.
Mills married Bean in 1993 when she was 41 years old and he 64. It was her first marriage, while it was a third for the comedian. The pair lived in Venice, California.
Despite their 23-year age gap, their union stood the test of time. In an interview in 1991, Mills revealed her mother introduced her to Bean.
An undated photo of Orson Bean and Alley Mills during "A Girl Thing" Los Angeles Premiere at Director in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
HER LOVE STORY WITH BEAN
She shared that Dan Lauria produced reading plays, and Bean happened to be in one reading. The “Appetite for Love” star recalled that her mom said they should invite the whole company out for drinks.
Mills said she saw her mother walking with the Vermont native on the sidewalk. “He then sits himself down next to me, and I’m walking home with mom,” she explained.
The now-70-year-old continued: “She said, ‘I think he likes you!’ I said, ‘Mother, I’m sure he’s married. He was talking about his kids. I mean, he was wonderful, funny, I had a great night’… And she goes, ‘By the way, he’s not married. I asked him. He’s divorced!”
Orson Bean attends the premiere of "Equalizer 2" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on July 17, 2018 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
BEAN’S TRAGIC PASSING
After being married to Alley for 27 years, Bean sadly died in February 2020 at age 91. Dubbed a “free-spirit,” the stage actor was killed in a traffic accident in Venice, California.
At the time, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office stated his death was investigated as a “traffic-related” fatality. The LA police revealed Bean was walking in the area of Venice Boulevard and Shell Avenue when he was struck by a vehicle and fell.
Bystanders reportedly attempted to warn a second driver, but he also clipped the pedestrian. Police added the second collision was deemed fatal. Both drivers remained at the scene.
Orson Bean attends the premiere of "America" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
LAPD Capt. Brian Wendling said the car coming westbound did not see Bean and struck him. He added: “A second vehicle was coming up and was distracted by people trying to slow him down and then looked up. A second traffic collision occurred, and that one was fatal.”
The officers did not immediately identify Bean. However, a friend of the veteran star witnessed the incident and confirmed that Bean was struck and killed at the scene to ABC7 Eyewitness News.
Investigators initially believed his passing was a tragic accident. It appeared “The Equalizer 2” star came from between two cars when he was crossing the street and was not seen by the drivers. His wife was at the scene.
An undated image of Orson Bean during Orson Bean on "The Merv Griffin Show" at Merv Griffin Studios in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
Bean’s career spanned from the 1950s. He was a panelist on the 1956 game show “To Tell the Truth,” a frequent guest of Jack Paar and Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” and a regular on drama shows.
In 1954, Bean became a host of a show called “The Blue Angel.” His film credits include “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Being John Malkovich.”
He also appeared in TV shows such as “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Modern Family.” Over the next three decades, the writer and producer also had recurring roles in “Desperate Housewives” from 2009 to 2012 and “Murder, She Wrote.”
Comedian Orson Bean performs his one man play "Safe At Home - an evening with Orson Bean" at Pacific Resident Theatre on March 26, 2016 in Venice, California | Photo: Getty Images
HIS PREVIOUS MARRIAGES
The star was previously married to his first wife, Jacqueline de Sibour, from 1956 to 1962. They had one child within their union, a daughter named Michele.
Bean then wed Fashion Designer Carolyn Maxwell in 1965, with whom he shared three kids, two sons, and a daughter: Ezekiel, Susannah (who died in 2012), and Max. The pair divorced in 1981. He and Mills did not have any children together.
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