‘Green Acres’: Eddie Albert’s Surprising Connection to His Classic Character

by Craig Garrett

Eddie Albert turned down a few iconic classic tv roles, but his character from Green Acres was too hard to resist for a special reason. The veteran actor had already appeared in many films in the 40s and 50s before landing on television. Albert, a former circus performer, debuted in the medium during the so-called “Golden Age of Television,” when numerous live broadcasts were aired.

Albert served as host for two series in the 50s. The variety show Nothing But the Best for NBC and later a game show for CBS called On Your Account. However, he is best recognized for Green Acres. The series aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971 and has lived on as a cable hit. Eva Gabor co-starred as his socialite wife, Lisa. Eddie Albert also appeared on Petticoat Junction, which was set in the same made-up city of Hooterville.

However, Eddie Albert may not have appeared on the iconic show. Previously, he had turned down hit series such as My Three Sons and Mister Ed according to the LA Times. The actor had appeared in seminal films like Oklahoma! and Roman Holiday. Albert was unwilling to give up his film career for a medium that was “designed to mediocrity.” But his agent then informed him about the proposed CBS comedy series. It was about a New Yorker who comes to the countryside to get away from the hassles of urban living. The concept immediately hooked the actor.

“I said, ‘Swell; that’s me. Everyone gets tired of the rat race. Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots. It’s basic. Sign me,’ ” Eddie Albert told TV Guide. “I knew it would be successful. Had to be. It’s about the atavistic urge, and people have been getting a charge out of that ever since Aristophanes wrote about the plebs and the city folk.” Of course, the ancient Greek playwright didn’t create such memorable characters as Arnold, a scene-stealing pet pig.

Eddie Albert continued to appear on television as a recurring guest star into the 1990s. He made his TV movie debut in See the Man Run. He later starred in the 1973 NBC television adaptation of The Borrowers, which was based on a children’s novel about a family of tiny people who reside inside the gaps and fissures of a home. His noteworthy screen credits include the aging statesman in Benjamin Franklin: The Ambassador, a plantation owner in Beulah Land, and the crooked judge in Dress Grey. In 1989, Albert played the father of Timothy Busfield’s character on thirtysomething. He was a media mogul in the 1995 tv remake of The Barefoot Executive.