Jack Albertson

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Jack Albertson
Jack Albertson in 1976's The Sad and Lonely Sundays.jpg
Jack Albertson in 1976
Born (1907-06-16)June 16, 1907
Malden, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died November 25, 1981(1981-11-25) (aged 74)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Colorectal cancer
Resting place
Other names Jackie Alberts
Occupation Actor, comedian, dancer, singer
Years active 1938–1981
Spouse(s) Wallace Thompson (1952-1981; his death)
Children 1
Relatives Mabel Albertson (sister)

Jack Albertson (June 16, 1907 – November 25, 1981) was an American character actor who also performed in vaudeville.[1] A comedian, dancer, singer, and musician, Albertson is perhaps best known for his roles as Manny Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), Amos Slade from The Fox and the Hound (1981) and as Ed Brown in the 1974–1978 television sitcom Chico and the Man. For his contributions to the television industry, Jack Albertson was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6253 Hollywood Boulevard.[2]

Early life[edit]

Albertson was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Russian-born Jewish immigrants Flora (née Craft) and Leopold Albertson.[3][4] His sister was actress Mabel Albertson. Albertson's mother, a stock actress, supported the family by working in a shoe factory.[3] Albertson dropped out of high school and traveled to New York City in an attempt to make it big in show business. He was too poor to get a room in a flophouse, so in the winter he would sleep on the IRT subway; he would catch the train for a nickel, and hide out when the transit workers would clear out the train at the end of the line. In the summer he slept in Central Park. Albertson's first real job in show business was with a vaudeville road troupe, the Dancing Verselle Sisters.



Albertson worked in burlesque as a hoofer (soft shoe dancer) and straight man to Phil Silvers on the Minsky's Burlesque Circuit. Besides vaudeville and burlesque, he appeared on the stage in many Broadway plays and musicals, including High Button Shoes, Top Banana, The Cradle Will Rock, Make Mine Manhattan, Show Boat, Boy Meets Girl, Girl Crazy, Meet the People, The Sunshine Boys (for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor), and The Subject Was Roses (for which he won a Tony for Best Supporting Actor). He was also known for two radio programs, Just Plain Bill and The Jack Albertson Comedy Show.


Albertson appeared in more than thirty films. He had an early minor role in Miracle on 34th Street as a postal worker who redirects dead letters addressed to "Santa Claus" to the courthouse where Kris Kringle is on trial. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1968 film The Subject Was Roses. He later apologized to Jack Wild for winning the award; Wild was also nominated and Albertson expected Wild to win. Albertson appeared as Charlie Bucket's Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and in The Poseidon Adventure (1972), where he played Manny Rosen, husband to Belle (played by Shelley Winters). Albertson said that his one regret was that he was not asked to reprise his role in the movie version of The Sunshine Boys.


Albertson was a radio performer and for a time a regular on the Milton Berle program in the late 1940s.


Throughout his career, Albertson appeared in many television series, such as CBS's Hey, Jeannie! with Jeannie Carson; the syndicated western series Frontier Doctor with Rex Allen; Rod Cameron's syndicated crime drama, State Trooper; and ABC's 1961-1962 drama series, Bus Stop. He guest starred on the David Janssen crime drama series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. From 1960 to 1961, Albertson was cast in three episodes of the CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan and Cara Williams.

On January 2, 1961, Albertson was cast as Sampson J. Binton, with DeForest Kelley as Alex Jeffords, in the series finale, "Listen to the Nightingale" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin.[5]

Albertson had a recurring role as the neighbor Walter Burton in eight episodes of the 1962 ABC sitcom, Room for One More, with Andrew Duggan and Peggy McCay. He had recurring roles in Dean Jones's NBC military sitcom, Ensign O'Toole (1962–1963), and Jack Sheldon's CBS sitcom, Run, Buddy, Run (1966).

Other 1960s series on which Albertson appeared were NBC's sitcom, Happy starring Ronnie Burns, and CBS's sitcom/drama Glynis, starring Glynis Johns and Keith Andes, which aired for thirteen weeks in the fall of 1963. Albertson also appeared in an episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone entitled "The Shelter" as Jerry Harlowe, the neighbor and best friend of physician Bill Stockton.

In a 1967 episode of CBS's The Andy Griffith Show, he played the n'er-do-well, cousin Bradford J. Taylor, of series character Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier).

Albertson co-starred as "The Man" Ed Brown in NBC's Chico and the Man, with Freddie Prinze, for which he won an Emmy. Albertson is one of the few entertainers to have won the triple crown of visual entertainment (a Tony, an Oscar, and an Emmy).

Personal life and death[edit]

He resided for years in West Hollywood, California. In 1978, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but kept this information private and continued to act. Two of his last roles were in the television movies, My Body, My Child (1982) and Grandpa, Will You Run With Me? (1983), both filmed in 1981 several months before his death, both of which were released posthumously.

Albertson died on 25 November 1981, aged 74, after a three-year illness. He and sister Mabel Albertson, who died ten months later, were cremated and their ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.


Year Film Role Notes
1938 Next Time I Marry Reporter unconfirmed
1940 Strike Up the Band Barker uncredited
1947 Miracle on 34th Street Al, Post Office mail sorter uncredited
1952 Anything Can Happen Flower Vendor uncredited
1954 Top Banana Vic Davis
1955 Bring Your Smile Along Mr. Jenson
1956 Over-Exposed Les Bauer uncredited
The Harder They Fall Pop
The Eddy Duchin Story Piano tuner uncredited
The Unguarded Moment Prof
You Can't Run Away from It Third proprietor
1957 Man of a Thousand Faces Dr. J. Wilson Shields
Don't Go Near the Water Rep. George Jansen
Monkey on My Back Sam Pian
1958 Teacher's Pet Guide
1959 Never Steal Anything Small Sleep-Out Charlie Barnes
The Shaggy Dog Reporter uncredited
1961 The George Raft Story Milton
Lover Come Back Fred
1962 Convicts 4 Art Teacher
Period of Adjustment Desk Sergeant
Who's Got the Action? Hodges
Days of Wine and Roses Traynor
1963 Son of Flubber Mr. Barley
1964 Kissin' Cousins Capt. Robert Jason Salbo
The Patsy Theatergoer with Helen
Roustabout Lou (tea house manager)
1965 How to Murder Your Wife Dr. Bentley
1967 The Flim-Flam Man Mr. Packard
1968 How To Save A Marriage and Ruin Your Life Mr. Slotkin
The Subject Was Roses John Cleary Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1969 Justine Cohen
Changes The Father
1970 Squeeze a Flower Alfredo Brazzi
Rabbit, Run Marty Tothero
1971 Once Upon a Dead Man
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Grandpa Joe
The Late Liz Reverend Gordon Rogers
1972 Pickup on 101 Hobo
The Poseidon Adventure Manny Rosen
1981 The Fox and the Hound Hunter (Amos Slade) voice
Dead & Buried William G. Dobbs
1982 My Body, My Child Poppa MacMahon TV film

Television credits – recurrent roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1957–1959 The Thin Man Lt. Harry Evans 14 episodes
1959–1962 The Jack Benny Program Reporter 6 episodes
1961–1964 Mister Ed Paul Fenton 7 episodes
1962 Room for One More Walter Burton 8 episodes
1962-1963 Ensign O'Toole Lt. Cdr. Virgil Stoner 32 episodes
1971–1972 Dr. Simon Locke Dr. Andrew Sellers
1974–1978 Chico and the Man Ed Brown 88 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1976)
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1975, 1977)
1978 Grandpa Goes to Washington Senator Joe Kelley 7 episodes

Television – guest roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1956 I Love Lucy Helicopter Dispatcher episode: Bon Voyage
Crusader Ernie Duchek episode: The Syndicate
Sheriff of Cochise Greenbriar Merritt episode: Closed for Repairs
1957–1960 Have Gun, Will Travel Mayor Whiteside
Jason Coldwell
episode: Out at the Old Ball Park
episode: The Teacher
episode: High Wire
1958 Bachelor Father Charlie Sharpe
episode: Bentley and the Finishing School
episode: Woman of the House
The People's Choice Luther Jenkins episode: Daisies Won't Tell, with Jackie Cooper
1959 Richard Diamond, Private Detective Fallace episode: Boomerang Bait
1959–1961 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Bison Lodge Member
Police Sergeant
Newspaper Reporter
Mr. Quimby
Police chief
episode: Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?
episode: Maynard G. Krebs, Boy Millionaire
episode: You Ain't Nuthin' But a Houn' Dog
episode: Competition Is the Life of Trade
episode: Deck the Halls
1960 The Gale Storm Show Freddy Morell episode: Show Biz
The Tab Hunter Show Coach episode: My Darling Teacher
The Ann Sothern Show Mr. Dooley episode: Billy
Happy Ed Langley episode: Chris' Night Out
Klondike Eskimo Eddie episode: Sure Thing, Men
1961 Riverboat Sampson J. Binton episode: Listen to the Nightingale
The Twilight Zone Jerry Harlowe episode: The Shelter
1962 The Dick Van Dyke Show Mr. Eisenbauer episode: The Twizzle
Bus Stop Lawson episode: Turn Home Again
Saints and Sinners Dr. Felixson episode: All the Hard Young Men
Lawman Doc Peters episode: The Unmasked
1963 Glynis Al episode: The Pros and Cons
The Twilight Zone The Genie episode: I Dream Of Genie
The Lieutenant District Attorney episode: Cool of the Evening
1964 Death Valley Days Pearlman episode: Sixty-Seven Miles of Gold
1966–1967 Run for Your Life Harry Krissel episode: Cry Hard, Cry Fast
episode: The Treasure Seekers
1967 The Andy Griffith Show Bradford J. Taylor episode: Aunt Bee's Cousin
1968 Ironside Money Howard episode: Side Pocket
1968–1972 Bonanza Jonathan May
Enos Blessing
episode: The Sound of Sadness
episode: A Girl Named George
1969 The Big Valley Judge Ben Moore episode: The Battle of Mineral Springs
The Monk Tinker ABC Movie of the Week
1969–1970 Land of the Giants Professor Kirmus
episode: Panic
episode: Return of Inidu
The Virginian Billy "Moose" Valentine
Nathaniel E. "Doc" Watson
episode: With Love, Bullets, and Valentines
episode: The Girl in the Shadows
1969–1974 Gunsmoke Moses Darby
Joshua Finch
Lucius Prince
Danny Wilson
episode: Cowtown Hustle
episode: One for the Road
episode: Danny
1970 Marcus Welby, M.D. Mr. Chambers episode: Go Get 'Em, Tiger
Daniel Boone Sweet episode: Run for the Money
Nanny and the Professor Edwin Higgenbotham Botkin episode: The Haunted House
1971 Love, American Style Archie segment: Love and the Second Time
1972 Night Gallery Bullivant episode: Dead Weight
1973 The Streets of San Francisco Tim Murphy episode: The Set-Up
1975 Tony Orlando and Dawn Himself episode: Episode #1.20
Mitzi and 100 Guys Himself (TV movie)
Cher Himself episode: Episode #1.4
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance in Variety or Music
Match Game '75 Himself 5 episodes
1976 Donny & Marie Himself Episode dated 6 April 1976
1980 Charlie's Angels Edward Jordan episode: Angel in Hiding


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, December 2, 1981.
  2. ^ Albertson "Hollywood Walk of Fame database". HWOF.com. 
  3. ^ a b Jack Albertson's Kinship to Cloris Leachman and Sharon Stone
  4. ^ Berkvist, Robert (1973-01-07). "Jack Spreads A Little Sunshine; Jack Spreads Sunshine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  5. ^ ""Listen to the Nightingale", Riverboat, January 2, 1961". IMDb. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]