Whitehorse Daily Star

Late actor had link to Jack London's cabin

Eddie Albert may be remembered throughout most of North America for his role as Oliver Wendell in Green Acres, but in the Yukon, he's remembered for his work in promoting the discovery of Jack London's cabin.

By Whitehorse Star on June 3, 2005

Eddie Albert may be remembered throughout most of North America for his role as Oliver Wendell in Green Acres, but in the Yukon, he's remembered for his work in promoting the discovery of Jack London's cabin.

Albert died of pneumonia last week in California at the age of 99.

'He'd always been interested in Jack London,' Whitehorse filmmaker Richard Lawrence said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

Lawrence and his partner, Rachel Grantham, interviewed Albert for their Lost Cabin film about Jack London's cabin in the Yukon approximately six years ago. It would be one of, or possibly, the last interview Albert would give.

The Lost Cabin was the first project to benefit from the Yukon Filmmakers Fund with the money used to purchase plane tickets to Idaho, where Grantham and Lawrence interviewed Yukon author Dick North, and California for the interview with Albert.

When the cabin was discovered in the late 1960s, London's daughter, Joan, was scheduled to come up to the territory to do promotional work on it.

She was unable to make the trip due to throat cancer so Albert, who was also involved with Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif., came up in her place in 1968. It was also at that time he was working on Green Acres. The series was produced and aired from 1965 to 1971.

'He was really pleased,' Lawrence said of Albert being asked to come up to the territory.

In interviewing Albert, the filmmakers learned one of the actor's favourite Yukon experiences was being on a dog sled on the Yukon River. Albert was among a contingent that included Joe Henry and which travelled by dog sled to the cabin.

The Californian found himself at the back of the group with 18 dogs in front of him.

'He said it was just unbelievable,' Lawrence said.

Before the group had set out with the dog sleds, Albert had arrived in the Yukon during a cold mid-April wearing 'California-gear', Lawrence said. The actor was given a parka and winter gear after he got here.

Going to California to interview Albert, Lawrence had been expecting the successful actor to be somewhat distant and perhaps a little pompous.

Instead, he found a 'really nice guy'. Albert was down to earth in telling tales of his experience with Jack London's cabin.

At the time, Albert was beginning to experience Alzheimer's disease, and though he knew what he wanted to say, at some points, he couldn't remember the right word.

'He was enough of an actor and a gentleman not to show his frustration,' Lawrence said.

It was only about six months later when Lawrence and Grantham had difficulty contacting Albert, who was no longer well enough to care for himself.

While many famous actors might have elaborate homes, Lawrence was surprised to find a more modest house with a corn field in front. In back of the house was an area with trees where a variety of birds could be heard chirping.

The birds can still be heard on the Lost Cabin recording, Lawrence said.

Albert was also an environmentalist who was part of the work behind the ban on DDTs.

'He was just a remarkable person,' Lawrence said.

In addition to his Green Acres work, Albert took on more serious roles like the prison warden in the 1974 edition of The Longest Yard movie, starring Burt Reynolds. An updated version of the film is now playing in theatres.

Albert's stage career began in the early 1930s as a master of ceremonies and later as a singer. He would go on to appear on Broadway and then moved to Mexico ,where, in addition to working in a one-ring touring circus as an aerialist and clown, he gathered information for the U.S. army on Nazi activity there.

He would go on to serve in the Second World War, then move on to television.

Albert is survived by his son, Edward Albert Jr., and daughter, Maria Zucht, and two grandchildren.

Margo O'Donnell, his wife of 40 years, died in 1985.

Eva Gabor, Albert's famous sidekick in Green Acres, died in California in July 1995 at the age of 76 due to respiratory complications from food poisoning.

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