The mumbling, stumbling Mr. Bean may be Britain’s most beloved clown, a semi-mute mischief maker whose antics have entertained us for decades. But did you know that his limited vocabulary is the result of a childhood trauma that left him with deep emotional scars?
The year was 1961, and a 6-year old Bean (whose actual first name is Mister) was living in Barnard Castle, a market town in Teesdale, County Durham, England. “Ours was a generally happy childhood” says Mister’s sister, Sister Bean, her long black hair tangled in an electric mixer. “Happy until the incident, of course.”
The incident to which Sister Bean refers happened one sunny Sunday afternoon, as Mister and his father walked home from a church carnival. Mister was holding several balloons, the helium lift of which was so strong, it was only his father’s hand that kept him tethered to the earth. “If Father wasn’t holding his hand, he would have floated right away” says Sister, turning on the mixer for a moment only to have her head pulled in closer to the motor. “And after the car stuck father, that’s exactly what happened.”
Father Bean was killed on impact as he was struck by a Morris Minor MM, and in releasing his son’s hand, the 6-year-old Bean began floating away into the sky. He screamed out as he looked down at his father’s body, thinking that he too had died in the accident and that his soul was drifting toward heaven. When a flock of seagulls began pecking and popping the balloons that kept him aloft however, Bean realized he was not dead and fell back to earth, landing in a pile of feathers on a neighbor’s farm.
Young Mister Bean was so rattled by the experience that not one word, nor cry, nor noise of any sort passed his lips for three years. “When he was 9, he got the bear” Sister Bean revealed, cake mix running down her face after having lifted the electric mixer over her head to better untangle her hair. “With the bear, the grunts began. The willingness to say his own name. That bear was his salvation. It was our family’s salvation.”
“I haven’t seen him in years” says his sister, “but I hope he is well. We’re so proud of all he’s accomplished, with the shows and the movies. No child should suffer the way he did. Voilà!”
Sister Bean has chosen to wear the electric mixer as a hat.