If blind and deaf poet Samuel William Bean, the father, could be billed as a philosopher, then perhaps it was genetics that played a part in Sam junior’s philosophical outlook on his career as animal trainer.
Working with Shipstads and Johnson’s Ice Follies through the early 1950s, Sam encountered his fair share of challenges in the variety of tasks he was called upon to handle.
For the acts in 1954 and 1955, as we’ve already seen, Sam’s charges were a set of toy poodles, but they weren't always the focus of his duties. His round-the-clock care for the undaunted dozen dogs—who literally pranced their way through their fifteen minutes of fame each time the show played in cities across the country—was preceded by a variety of other assignments. Sam’s repertoire included the predictable role of training horses and ponies, true. But that wasn’t all. Added to that list were a pig, a goat, a seal and some penguins—“and we all got to be close friends.”
As Sam explained to Oakland Tribune reporter Wood Soanes in an August 7, 1955, feature article,
I worked with the pig for fifteen minutes each day and by the third day he was getting the idea; by the sixth day he was doing his work like a professional.
While his father, the elder Samuel W. Bean, developed his own life philosophy out of the difficulties he faced when a freak accident turned his life permanently upside down, the junior Sam saw his own philosophy evolve when he faced the call of creating fifteen minute acts with partners whose natural inclinations in no way included performance on stage—no matter how brief the occasion.
I think perhaps my success, if that’s what you want to call it, has been due to the fact that I don’t believe in manhandling animals, and I certainly don’t believe in trying to rush them with lessons.... I try first to win their affection and then I try to win their respect. Once I’ve got them on my side, the battle is won. They probably say to themselves: We better try to get this chore done or poor old Sam Bean will lose his job!