Eddie Albert, actor and activist, Died at 99


Edward Albert Heimberger professionally known as Eddie Albert died on May 26, 2005 at the age of 99, he was an American actor and activist.

Born in Rock Island, Illinois, on April 22, 1906, the oldest of the five children of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and his wife Julia Jones. 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.

Albert stopped using his last name professionally, since it invariably was mispronounced as Hamburger.

He moved to New York City in 1933, where he co-hosted a radio show, The Honeymooners – Grace and Eddie Show, which ran for three years.

At the show’s end, he was offered a film contract by Warner Bros. Performing regularly on early television; Albert wrote and performed in the first teleplay, The Love Nest, written for television.

Done live (not recorded on film), this production took place November 6, 1936 and originated in Studio 3H (now 3K) in the GE Building at Rockefeller Center (then called the RCA Building) in New York City and was broadcast over NBC’s experimental television station W2XBS (now WNBC).

Hosted by Betty Goodwin, The Love Nest starred Albert, Hildegarde, The Ink Spots, Ed Wynn, and actress Grace Brandt. Before this time television productions were adaptations of stage plays.

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.

On September 9, 1942, Albert enlisted in the United States Navy and was discharged in 1943 to accept an appointment as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” 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.

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.

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).