Born Edward Albert Heimberger in 1906, Eddie Albert began his career with a radio show called The Honeymooners. He moved on to the stage, where he appeared in Brother Rat and Room Service. Recruited by Hollywood, Albert made many films, including Roman Holiday. He is most famous for his role opposite Eva Gabor as a city lawyer who moves to a farm on TV's Green Acres (1965–'71).
Actor Edward Albert Heimberger was born on April 22, 1906, in Rock Island, Illinois. The eldest of five children, he was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with old-fashioned morals and a strong work ethic. Albert took on a paper route at the age of 6, and managed to balance working with being a student, performing in school plays and singing in the church choir.
Upon his high school graduation, Albert struggled to make a living as an insurance salesman and sometimes earned extra cash by singing in a trio on local radio shows. After moving to New York City in 1933, he and Grayce Bradt hosted their own daily radio show on NBC called The Honeymooners.
In 1936, Albert tried his hand at stage acting, winning rave reviews for his performances in the productions Brother Rat and Room Service. Following an auspicious Broadway debut, Albert caught the attention of a Warner Bros. talent scout. In 1938, he signed a seven-year contract with the studio and moved to Hollywood, where he reprised his role as Bing Edwards in the acclaimed film version of Brother Rat.
Despite his growing popularity with moviegoers, Albert was unfulfilled by his film work and severed his contract after several disagreements with studio executives. In 1942, he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in the South Pacific. While on leave from duty, he returned to Los Angeles, where he began a relationship with Mexican-American actress Margo. Upon Albert’s discharge from service in 1945, the couple married; they had a son, Edward Jr. in 1951.
More Successful Roles
During the 1950s, Albert starred in several hit television series, including Leave It to Larry and The Saturday Night Revue. In 1953, he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the enduring romance Roman Holiday, which starred Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. His film career continued to flourish with starring roles in the dramas I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955), The Teahouse of August Moon (1956) and The Sun Also Rises (1957) with Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner.
In 1958, while filming John Huston's dramatic adventure The Roots of Heaven in Africa, Albert met legendary humanitarian and philosopher Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Inspired by Schweitzer, Albert adopted a similar philanthropic attitude and actively pursued what would become a lifelong crusade to raise awareness about pollution and pesticides.
Albert signed on to play Oliver Wendell Douglas in the CBS sitcom Green Acres (1965-'71), which also starred Eva Gabor. The program enjoyed six successful seasons on the air, while he became a household name for his portrayal of the Harvard-educated attorney with a passion for farming. As part of a cast that included Cybill Shepherd and Charles Grodin, Albert gave his second Oscar-nominated performance in the 1972 black comedy The Heartbreak Kid. He continued to work steadily throughout the 1970s, most notably in the TV movies Switch (1975) with Robert Wagner, The Word and Evening in Byzantium (both 1978).
In addition to a slew of supporting roles on film during the 1980s, Albert worked on the popular TV drama series Falcon Crest, thirtysomething and General Hospital. The 1990 television movie Return to Green Acres reunited Albert with his former cast members.
Albert remained active in his humanitarian efforts until his death from pneumonia on May 26, 2005 at his home near Pacific Palisades, California.
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