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Live Ed to benefit 'Mr. Ed Fan Club'

By RENEE POSEY

DALLAS -- During the last two years, fund-raising efforts have been organized on behalf of starving Africans and struggling farmers, out of which came Live Aid and Farm Aid.

So, what do you do when you are the broke president of a fan club devoted to a talking horse?

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You organize a 'Live Ed' relief effort, of course.

James 'Big Bucks' Burnett, 27, of the Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill, founded the 'Mr. Ed Fan Club' in 1974, although he had never seen the television show. He saw his first 'Mr. Ed' episode in 1983.

Burnett said that when he was 15 years old, he wanted 'an original-sounding return address to impress his friends,' so he formed the 'Mr. Ed Fan Club.'

The idea caught on, and Burnett's organization grew, attracting the attention of singers Jackson Browne and John Fogerty, artists Peter Max and Andy Warhol and author Kurt Vonnegut, who are among the members of the fan club.

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To celebrate the club's 10th anniversary, Burnett in 1984 held 'Edstock,' a music festival held on the 15th anniversary of 'Woodstock.'

'The Jacksons and Van Halen were all in town that weekend, so we had heavy competition,' Burnett said. 'The competition resulted in a debt of $20,000. That's a pretty amazing accomplishment for a fan club.'

So for two years, Burnett toyed with ways to retire the debt.

'I was able to whittle it down to $15,000,' he said. 'At that rate, it was going to take me about 13 years to get it out of the way.'

But then fate stepped in, he said.

'Live Ed screamedto be done the day they had Live Aid,' Burnett said. 'It just clicked.'

'Live Ed: A Concert of a Different Color' is a multi-media event set for Thursday at a Dallas nightclub, where MTV and Nickelodeon will be taping. 'Mr. Ed' is shown twice a day on Nickelodeon.

'There are some incredible special effects scheduled,' Burnett said. 'Alan Young (who portrayed Wilbur) will be there.'

Burnett, who describes himself as 'shy, in my own boyish sort of way,' says he has received a letter from actress Connie Hines, who played Carol, Wilbur's wife. He will share it with the Live Ed crowd.

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Jay Livingston, who wrote and sang the 'Mr. Ed' theme song, has sent Burnett a cassette containing the same tune, but with new words, written for Live Ed.

Burnett and some of his cronies have written a parody of the Live Aid anthem, 'We Are The World.' Burnett's version is called 'He Was The Horse, We Are His Children.'

Burnett also has invited Ohio evangelist Jim Brown, who has made accusations that the Mr. Ed theme song contains satanic messages when played backward.

'We've asked him to send a videotaped message on the subject of Ed and Satan. And at the stroke of midnight, we are going to play the theme song backwards to let people draw their own conclusions.'

Burnett plans to lead the Edheads in the fan club Oath of Edwareness. 'I, (your name here), do solemnly swear, to stop swearing so solemnly.'

Where will it all end?

Burnett said it is possible that he may take Live Ed on the road, touring four or five cities.

He will call it, 'Hooves Across America.'

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