Eddie Albert, Character Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dead at 99 | Playbill

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Obituaries Eddie Albert, Character Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dead at 99 Character actor Eddie Albert died May 26 at his home near Pacific Palisades, California, at the age of 99, leaving behind him decades' worth of performances on stage and in film and television.

The likably gruff, square-jawed Mr. Albert was perhaps best known for gentleman farmer Oliver Wendell Douglas he created in the 1960s sitcom "Green Acres," but his accomplishments in the theatre and in movies were equally impressive.

He made his Broadway debut in 1936 in the short-lived comedy O Evening Star. Later that same year, Garson Kanin cast him in a starring role in Brother Rat, which was produced by George Abbott.

Two more big roles follows: Room Service, a comedy produced and directed by Abbott, and The Boys From Syracuse, the classical musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, in which he played Antipholus of Syracuse.

Mr. Albert went to Hollywood in 1937 to make the film of Brother Rat, but he never left the theatre far behind. In 1949, he starred in the Irving Berlin musical Miss Liberty on Broadway. He replaced Tom Ewell in the hit comedy The Seven Year Itch and was one of Broadway's Prof. Harold Hills in The Music Man. Other credits include the Jule Styne musical Say, Darling, No Hard Feelings, a 1973 flop that lasted one night, and the 1983 revival of You Can't Take It With You.

Among Eddie Albert's most memorable early film roles were Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!, a recovering alcoholic in Smash Up and a cowardly soldier in Attack. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Roman Holiday, the film that introduced Audrey Hepburn to the world. In it he played reporter Gregory Peck's sidekick, the womanizing beatnik photographer Irving Radovich. That comic characterization would have been almost unrecognizable to audiences in the late '60s and '70s who were used to Mr. Albert's portrayals of autocratic, easily vexed stuffed shifts. In this mode, he played Cybill Shepherd's frosty father in 1972's The Heartbreak Kid (another Academy Award nomination) and Warren Hazen, the corrupt prison warden in 1974's The Longest Yard. And then there was the stuffed shirt of stuffed shirts, lawyer Holmes in "Green Acres," who did farm work in shirtsleeves and business vest, battled daily with the nonsense of the local yokels, and turned beet red at his wife Eva Gabor's sweet-natured dizziness.

The well-known theme song for the popular sitcom ("Green acres in the place for me/Farm living is the life for me") was sung by Mr. Albert, who by then had had more than his share of experience on the musical stage.

He was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Ill., on April 22, 1906, raised in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota for two years. He also began his stage career in Minneapolis in the early 1930's as a master of ceremonies in a magic show, and later as a singer, according to the New York Times.

Soon after going to Hollywood, he went to Mexico, where, said the Times, he worked in a one-ring touring circus as an aerialist and clown and also gathered intelligence for the United States Army about Nazi activities there.

He served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, and was in the battle of Tarawa, known as one of the bloodiest battles of the war. He was awarded the Bronze Star for rescuing 70 Marines during that conflict.

Mr. Albert was married to the actress Margo, née Maria Margarita Guadelupe Teresa Estella Bolado Castilla y O'Donnell, from 1945 until her death in 1985. Besides his son, he is survived by a daughter, Maria Albert Zucht, and two grandchildren, The Associated Press reported.

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