June 1, 2005 by

Eddie Albert

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Categories: Actors

ealbert.jpgEdward Albert Heimberger, a veteran actor of stage and screen who achieved his greatest fame on the 1960s TV show “Green Acres,” died on May 26 of pneumonia. He was 99.
Born in Rock Island, Ill., and raised in Minneapolis, Edward attended the University of Minnesota for two years before launching his performing career as a singer and master of ceremonies in a magic show. After hearing his last name mispronounced over and over again, he adopted the stage name Eddie Albert.
In the 1930s, Albert moved to New York with dreams of becoming a working actor. He made his Broadway debut in “O Evening Star” before landing the lead role in the 1936 stage production of “Brother Rat.” An executive from Warner Bros. caught the show and offered Albert a studio contract. He signed a seven-year deal, moved to Hollywood and appeared in the film adaptation of “Brother Rat” and its sequel.
An avid sailor, Albert would often take long trips in a ketch down the California coast. On one of these excursions, he encountered Japanese “fishermen” making hydrographic surveys near Baja California. When Albert reported his findings to Army intelligence, the military agreed to use him as a spy. Albert then spent several years working as a clown and trapeze artist in a small, Mexican circus while he gathered intelligence about Nazi activities in the region. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and earned a Bronze Star for rescuing nearly 70 wounded soldiers that had been abandoned under heavy fire in the “Bloody Battle of Tarawa.”
After the war, Albert rehabilitated his film career by tackling minor roles in small movies and starting Eddie Albert Productions, a company that made 16mm industrial and educational films. He soon found steady work playing wisecracking sidekicks, cowardly villains and sympathetic father figures in more than 100 motion pictures, including “Smash-up,” “Attack,” “Carrie,” “Oklahoma!” “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Longest Yard” and “Escape to Witch Mountain.” Albert twice received Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor in “Roman Holiday” and “The Heartbreak Kid.”
Playing a straight man on television, however, turned Albert into a star. For six seasons, he portrayed Oliver Wendell Douglas, a New York lawyer who settles on a farm with his glamorous wife (Eva Gabor) in the CBS comedy “Green Acres.” Albert often joked that he was “the only actor to have worked with one of the Gabor sisters and not marry one.” He was, in fact, married to Mexican actress/singer Margo (n

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