On stage from his teens (as part of the "Dancing Verselle Sisters" troupe), Jack Albertson worked in almost any form of live entertainment you could name: vaudeville, burlesque, legitimate stage, even opera. For two years he was straight man to comedian Phil Silvers on the Minsky's Burlesque Circuit, carrying over this partnership in Silvers' hit Broadway musicals High Button Shoes (1947) and Top Banana (1953). Albertson began taking bit roles in films in 1938; among his many fleeting film parts was the postal worker who redirected all of Santa Claus' mail to the New York Courthouse in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). On television, Albertson was a frequent guest star on the Burns and Allen Show and had regular roles on The Thin Man (1957-59) and Ensign O'Toole (1963). He also co-starred with Sam Groom on the 1971 syndicated series Dr. Simon Locke--at least until angrily walking off the series due to its severe budget deficiencies. Albertson became an "overnight success" with his portrayal of Martin Sheen's taciturn father in the 1964 Broadway play The Subject Was Roses, which earned him a Tony Award; he repeated the role in the 1968 film version, winning an Oscar in the process. Albertson added a pair of Emmies to his shelf for his performance as crotchety garage owner Ed Brown on the TV sitcom Chico and the Man (1974-77), and for his guest appearance on a 1975 episode of the variety series Cher. Jack Albertson was the brother of character actress Mabel Albertson.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Before segueing into acting, worked in vaudeville and burlesque, performing with the Dancing Verselle Sisters troupe, among others.
- Made his feature debut in the 1938 romantic comedy Next Time I Marry.
- Put in memorable appearances in the big-screen blockbusters Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
- Best known for his role as Ed Brown on the '70s sitcom Chico and the Man.
- One of just a handful of actors to win a Tony (for The Subject Was Roses), an Oscar (for The Subject Was Roses) and an Emmy (for Cher and Chico and the Man).
- Ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean after cremation.