My Memories Of Meeting Eddie Albert
The Death Of Eddie Albert And My Memories Of Meeting Him
by Rev. Johnny Lee Clary
I was saddened to hear about the death of Eddie Albert today. Eddie Albert was a great actor who I had the privilege of meeting at his home back in the fall of 2002. Pastor David Vivas used to go visit with him and took me to his home to see him. David was reluctant at first because Mr. Albert was suffering from Alzheimer's , the same thing Ronald Reagan suffered from. David had struck up a friendship with Mr. Albert a few years before, when he called him and interviewed him on a radio show David used to host. Mr. Albert invited David to come visit him and he did. Then one day David was surprised when his secretary walked in David's office and said, "There's someone here to see you." David walked outside and there was Mr. Albert who came to visit him. They spent the day touring Delano, of all places looking at the cows and the grapevines I guess..ha ha!
David would frequently go to visit Mr. Albert at his home in Los Angeles, and one day Mr. Albert called David and said, "I want you to come take me to see my friend Ronnie." David asked him "Ronnie?" and Mr. Albert replied, "Ronnie Reagan!" David tried to explain to him that he didn't think the Secret Service would let them in. Mr. Albert insisted that they would. David called Mr. Albert's son and he told David not to take him as they probably would not get in. The funny thing is, I would have just about been willing to bet that Nancy would have let them in seeing how it was Eddie Albert. David continued to go visit him until one day Mr. Albert said, "Who are you? I don't know you!" The Alzheimer's was taking it's toll, on a great actor. David said he felt like he had lost a friend. A few weeks later I arrived in Los Angeles and David said we could go see him, but he probably wouldn't realize it was him, but we went anyway.
Mr. Albert knew him right off and was very friendly. His memory had returned at least for that day. He gave me some advice about my movie deal and suggested that I play the part of myself. When I told Mr. Albert that I was a preacher and not a professional actor, Mr. Albert smiled and waved hand and said, "Oh, there isn't anything to acting anyway, you can do it!" We all laughed. Mr. Albert allowed me to pray for him and let David take this picture of us together. The funny thing is that after we took the picture, Mr. Albert sat up! I don't know why he stayed laying down when we took the picture.
It was an honor and a privilege to meet this man.
I say a fond farewell to Mr. Albert, who I enjoyed watching act for many years. One thing I do know is that he was saved and now he is in heaven. He has his full memory up there and knows everyone! I will look forward to seeing him again! He was one of my all-time favorite actors and I especially enjoyed him in the original movie, "The Longest Yard" with Burt Reynolds, whose remake of it just opened today ironically, and also "Green Acres" which I have seen nearly every episode of. he was a legend. Thanks For The Memories Mr. Albert!
....Johnny Lee Clary
Me in front of Mr. Albert's home.
'Green Acres' Star Eddie Albert Dies
Friday, May 27, 2005
LOS ANGELES — Eddie Albert , the actor best known as the constantly befuddled city slicker-turned-farmer in television's "Green Acres," has died. He was 99.
Albert died of pneumonia Thursday at his home in the Pacific Palisades area, in the presence of caregivers including his son Edward, who was holding his hand at the time.
"He died so beautifully and so gracefully that literally this morning I don't feel grief, I don't feel loss," Edward Albert told The Associated Press.
Albert achieved his greatest fame on "Green Acres " as Oliver Douglas, a New York lawyer who settles in a rural town with his glamorous wife, played by Eva Gabor, and finds himself perplexed by the antics of a host of eccentrics, including a pig named Arnold Ziffel.
He was nominated for Academy Awards as supporting actor in "Roman Holiday" (1953) and "The Heartbreak Kid" (1972).
The actor moved smoothly from the Broadway stage to movies to television. Besides the 1965-1971 run in "Green Acres," he costarred on TV with Robert Wagner in "Switch" from 1975 to 1978 and was a semi-regular on "Falcon Crest" in 1988.
He was a tireless conservationist, crusading for endangered species, healthful food, cleanup of Santa Monica Bay pollution and other causes.
Albert's mother was not married when he was born, in 1906. After marrying, she changed his birth certificate to read 1908, the younger Albert said.
Rarely the star of films, Albert often portrayed the wisecracking sidekick, fast-talking salesman or sympathetic father. His stardom came in television, especially with "Green Acres," in which, ironically, he played straight man. The show joined "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction" and other high-rated CBS comedies of the 1960s and '70s.
"Some people think that because of the bucolic background `Green Acres' is corny," Albert told an interviewer in 1970. "But we get away with some of the most incredible lines on television."
His break in show business came during the '30s in the Broadway hit "Brother Rat," a comedy about life at Virginia Military Institute. Warner Bros. signed him to a contract and cast him in the 1938 film.
According to Hollywood gossip, he was caught in a dalliance with the wife of Jack L. Warner and the studio boss removed him from a film and allowed him to languish under contract.
The actor left Hollywood and appeared as a clown and trapeze artist in a one-ring Mexican circus. He escaped his studio contract by joining the Navy in World War II and served in combat in the South Pacific. He received a Bronze Star for his heroic rescue of wounded Marines at Tarawa, his son said.
Albert managed to rehabilitate his film career after the war, beginning with "Smash-up" with Susan Hayward in 1947.
Among his other films: "Carrie," "Oklahoma!" "The Teahouse of the August Moon," "The Sun Also Rises," "The Roots of Heaven," "The Longest Day," "Miracle of the White Stallions," "The Longest Yard" and "Escape to Witch Mountain."
Edward Albert Heimberger was born in Rock Island, Ill., grew up in Minneapolis and worked his way through two years at the University of Minnesota.
Amateur theater led to singing engagements in nightclubs and on radio. During that time he dropped his last name "because most people mispronounced it as 'Hamburger."'
Moving to New York, Albert acted on radio and appeared in summer stock before he broke into Broadway and the movies.
"Green Acres" made Albert a rich man and allowed him to pursue his causes. He traveled the world for UNICEF. He continued acting into his 80s, often appearing in television movies.
"Acting was a tenth of his life. The majority of his life was committed to helping other people," said his son, also an actor. "This guy was, from the absolute depth of his soul, one of the true heroes of our world."
Edward Albert, 54, who became a prominent actor in "Butterflies Are Free," "40 Carats" and other films, said he put his career on hold for the past eight years to aid his father, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
On Friday, he remembered a moment several years ago in which the two sat in a garden together.
"I said to him 'You're my hero.' I saw him struggling to put together the words, and he looked at me and said: 'You're your hero's hero.' I'll take that to my ... grave."
Albert was married to the dancer-actress Margo for 40 years until her death in 1985. In addition to his son, Albert is survived by a daughter, Maria Albert Zucht, and two granddaughters.
A private funeral was planned.
By phone: United States 225-906-1712
Postal address: PO Box 83535 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70884