Eddie Albert of TV’s ‘Green Acres’ Grew Up In Minneapolis
I stumbled onto doing this story because of a movie I watched on Saturday night on Turner Classic Movies. The movie was ‘Butterflies Are Free’ from 1972.
What attracted me to watch it was that Goldie Hawn starred in it. The introduction also said, ‘Introducing Edward Albert.’
It was a fantastic movie. While watching it, I realized Edward Albert was an actor in some other movie in my collection. But I couldn’t place which one it was.
This drove me crazy. So I had to do some investigation. Then I found it. He was in the movie ‘Midway’ playing the part of a Navy pilot who had fallen in love with a Japanese woman at Pearl Harbor time.
My investigation did much more than answer my question of where I had seen him before. I was surprised to learn that he was the son of Eddie Albert, the star of TV’s ‘Green Acres’.
Then continued down the path of new found information and learned a great deal of things I never knew about the man who played Oliver Wendell Douglas on that Green Acres show that loved so much.
Eddie Albert was from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Young Edward secured his first job as a newspaper boy when he was only six.
He studied at Central High School in Minneapolis finishing in 1926. He then entered the University of Minnesota, where he majored in business.
When he graduated, he embarked on a business career. However, the stock market crash in 1929 left him essentially unemployed. He then took odd jobs, working as a trapeze performer, an insurance salesman, and a nightclub singer.
He moved to New York City in 1933, where he co-hosted a radio show than ran for three years. At the show’s end, he was offered a film contract by Warner Bros.
In 1936, Albert became one of the earliest television actors, performing live in RCA’s first television broadcast, a promotion for their New York City radio stations.
In 1938, he made his feature film debut in the Hollywood version of Brother Rat with Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman.
Prior to World War II, and before his film career, Albert had toured Mexico as a clown and high-wire artist with the Escalante Brothers Circus, but secretly worked for U.S. Army intelligence, photographing German U-boats in Mexican harbors. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during the invasion of Tarawa in November 1943.
When, as the pilot of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft, he rescued 47 Marines who were stranded offshore and supervised the rescue of 30 others while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire.
From 1948 on, Albert guest-starred in nearly ninety television series.
In 1965, Albert was approached by producer Paul Henning to star in a new sitcom for CBS called Green Acres. His character, Oliver Wendell Douglas, was a lawyer who left the city to enjoy a simple life as a farmer.
Albert married Mexican actress Margo in 1945. Albert and Margo had a son, Edward Jr., and as we started out this story we pointed out that he was also an actor.
Eddie suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his last years. His son put his acting career aside to care for his father.
Eddie Albert died of pneumonia in 2005 at the age of 99. He was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, next to his late wife and close to his Green Acres co-star Eva Gabor.
Edward Jr. died at age 55, one year after his father. He had been suffering from lung cancer for 18 months.