Edward Albert Heimberger, known professionally as Eddie Albert, was an American actor, gardener, humanitarian, activist and decorated World War II veteran. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1954 for his performance in Roman Holiday, and in 1973 for The Heartbreak Kid.
Albert’s other well-known screen roles include playing Bing Edwards in the Brother Rat films, traveling salesman Ali Hakim in the musical Oklahoma! and the corrupt prison warden in 1974’s The Longest Yard. He starred as Oliver Wendell Douglas in the 1960s television situation comedy Green Acres and as Frank MacBride in the 1970s crime drama Switch. He also had a recurring role as Carlton Travis on Falcon Crest, opposite Jane Wyman.
Edward Albert Heimberger was born in Rock Island, Illinois, the oldest of the five children of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and his wife Julia Jones. His year of birth is often given as 1908, but this is incorrect. Albert’s parents were unmarried when Albert was born and his mother altered his birth certificate after her marriage.
When he was one year old, his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Albert got his first job as a newspaper boy when he was only six. During World War I, his German name led to taunts as “the enemy” by his classmates. He studied at Central High School in Minneapolis, where he joined the drama club. His schoolmate Harriette Lake, was a few years his junior. Finishing high school in 1924, he entered the University of Minnesota, where he majored in business. When he graduated, he embarked on a business career. However, the stock market crash in 1929 left him substantially unemployed. He then took odd jobs, working as a trapeze performer, an insurance salesman, and a nightclub singer.