Mister Ed remembered
“Mister Ed” Gotwalt was remembered this week as an accomplished businessman, local celebrity and talented actor.
He was eagerly looking forward to a role in his friend John Putch’s next movie in the week leading up to the 84-year-old actor/businessman’s death Friday evening.
John said he had a great email exchange with Ed last week.
“He was wondering when we were going to shoot another film and he was ready to go.” he said.
Putch had known Gotwalt since childhood. Ed ranMister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporiumin Orrtanna at the time; and John was growing up in Fayetteville, where his father Bill Putch ran Totem Pole Playhouse in Caledonia.
“He was a good friend to me from childhood all the way through my adult and professional life,” John said.
He always considered Ed to be a performer who owned a business, not the opposite.
Talented actor: Playing himself, or a fictional character
“Like my father before me who put Ed onstage at Totem Pole, I found great joy in casting Ed as himself in the Route 30 Trilogy of films,” he said.
In their last movie The Father and the Bear, he cast Ed as the fictional character Ralph.
“Ed was very pleased to play a fictional character instead of Mister Ed,” John said. “He did a great job and got some of the biggest laughs in the film. Something I know he was happy about.”
John had a wonderful time making some of Ed’s film acting dreams come true, he said.
“Many times, I would plan his part in a film because I knew he would be overjoyed by it,” he said. “For me, an easy gift to give a friend.”
A growing friendship
Chambersburg resident Kathy Copio Zebroski first met Ed in December 2020 as an extra on the set of John Putch’s second film in the Route 30 trilogy “Route 30 Too.” Their friendship grew over the years; especially when they both appeared in “Route 30 Three” and “The Father and the Bear.”
“He was always so sweet and kind to me,” she said. “He always greeted me with a hug, and a “How are you and the family?”
Gotwalt’s Mister Ed’s candy shop soon became a frequent stop for Kathy after she played an extra on location at the store in the third Route 30 movie.
Ed was a hard worker and never stopped, even after his retirement, she said.
“I saw him still helping out at the candy store after (retirement),” she said. “I have seen him every year at the York Fair where he would set up his candy shop. He always made a point to stop and say hi to me.”
Bouncing back after serious injury
A serious car accident in 2017 slowed Ed down for awhile, but he recovered and went back to work.
Kathy said she ran into Ed at the Giant Food store in Chambersburg last fall. Because of the CIVID pandemic, she hadn’t seen him since.
“He was riding in the store scooter, wearing a mask and a shield due to the pandemic,” she remembers. “I just wish could have had that one last hug from him. I will really miss him.”
John Putch feels blessed to have been able to cast and direct Ed in the four independent films he made in the community where he grew up.
“Ed’s legacy will live on both in Orrtanna with his store and family; and in the films that I got to make with him,” he said.