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Saturday, May 28, 2005 - Page updated at 11:19 a.m.

Eddie Albert, 1906-2005: "Green Acres" star, WWII vet, activist

Los Angeles Times

Eddie Albert, the versatile stage, screen and television actor who starred as the Park Avenue lawyer who sought happiness down on the farm in the popular 1960s sitcom "Green Acres," has died. He was 99.

Mr. Albert, an outspoken environmentalist and humanitarian activist, died Thursday night at his home in L.A.'s Pacific Palisades of pneumonia, according to his son Edward Laurence Albert.

According to his son, Mr. Albert was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about 10 years ago, but still lived an active and happy life and remained at his home throughout.

Among Mr. Albert's nearly 100 film credits are "Oklahoma!," "I'll Cry Tomorrow," "Teahouse of the August Moon," "The Sun Also Rises," "The Longest Day" and "Escape to Witch Mountain."

Mr. Albert was memorable when he turned his good-guy screen image on its head — as he did playing the sadistic warden in 1974's "The Longest Yard," starring Burt Reynolds.

But Mr. Albert is best remembered for "Green Acres," which aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971 and continues to have an afterlife on cable TV. In it, Mr. Albert played Oliver Wendell Douglas, who satisfies his longing to get closer to nature by giving up his Manhattan law practice and buying — sight-unseen — a rundown 160-acre farm near the fictional town of Hooterville. Eva Gabor co-starred as his malaprop-dropping socialite wife, Lisa.

Mr. Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger on April 22, 1906, in Rock Island, Ill. When he was a year old, his family moved to Minneapolis, where he developed an early interest in show business.

In 1938, he made his movie debut in "Brother Rat." While signed to the studio, the restless actor would take long sailing trips down the California coast in a ketch.

In 1939, while sailing off the coast of Baja California, he heard rumors of secret submarine fueling stations, and when he returned home he reported to Army intelligence that Japanese "fishermen" were making hydrographic surveys of the coast.

Seven months after Pearl Harbor, Mr. Albert joined the Navy. After officers training school, he was assigned to an amphibious transport ship and saw action in the South Pacific.

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After the war, Mr. Albert returned to Hollywood and launched Eddie Albert Productions in 1946. The company made 16-millimeter industrial films and educational films for schoolchildren, including two then-controversial sex-education films.

Mr. Albert, who in 1963 served as special world envoy for Meals for Millions, helped launch the first Earth Day in 1970 and served as a special consultant at the World Hunger Conference in Rome in 1974.

Margo, his wife of 39 years, died in 1985. Mr. Albert is survived by his son; a daughter, Maria Zucht; and two granddaughters.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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