Thursday, May 26, 2011

George Brent & Eddie Albert

On May 26, 1979, actor George Brent died. He was an Irish film and television actor who was born on March 15, 1899 in Shannonbridge, Ireland into a family with a history of British Army service. However, during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921), Brent was an active participant in the IRA and because of this had to flee Ireland with a bounty on his head.In later years he claimed only to have been a courier for IRA leader, Michael Collins.

Brent eventually moved to Hollywood where he made his first film in 1930. Signed to a contract with Warner Brothers, Brent carved out a successful career as a leading man. He was highly regarded by Bette Davis, and appeared with her in thirteen films, including Front Page Woman (1935), Special Agent (1935), The Golden Arrow (1936), Jezebel (1938), The Old Maid (1939), Dark Victory (1939) and The Great Lie (1941). Brent also played opposite Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street (1933), Greta Garbo in The Painted Veil (1934), Madeleine Carroll in The Case Against Mrs. Ames (1936), Jean Arthur in More Than a Secretary (1936), Myrna Loy in Stamboul Quest (1934) and The Rains Came (1939), Merle Oberon in 'Til We Meet Again (1940), Ann Sheridan in Honeymoon for Three (1941), Joan Fontaine in The Affairs of Susan (1945), Barbara Stanwyck in The Purchase Price (1932), The Gay Sisters (1942) and My Reputation (1946), Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow Is Forever (1946), Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase (1946), Lucille Ball in Lover Come Back (1946) and Yvonne De Carlo in Slave Girl (1947). He drifted into "B" pictures in the late 1940s and retired from film in 1953. He continued to appear on television until 1960, starring in the series Wire Service in 1956. In 1978, he made one last film, the made-for-television production Born Again.

Known as a womanizer in Hollywood, Brent reputedly carried on a lengthy relationship with his frequent co-star Bette Davis. He was married four times, three times to actresses: Ruth Chatterton (1932–1934), Constance Worth (1937) and Ann Sheridan (1942–1943). Chatterton and Sheridan were both fellow Warner Brothers players. His final marriage to Janet Michaels, a former model and dress designer, lasted 27 years until her death in 1974. They had two children together, a son and a daughter.

Bette Davis in her last meeting with Brent expressed great remorse at his ill health (he was suffering from emphysema) and was deeply saddened that such a virile and attractive man could have deteriorated so dramatically. He died on May 26, 1979 in Solana Beach, California, at the age of 80 and his remains were cremated and scattered.

On May 26, 2005, actor Eddie Albert died. He was born on April 22, 1906 in Rock Island, Illinois, the oldest of the five children of Frank Daniel Heimberger. He moved to New York City in 1933, where he co-hosted a radio show, The Honeymooners - Grace and Eddie Show, which ran for three years. At the show's end, he was offered a film contract by Warner Bros. In the 1930s, Albert performed in Broadway stage productions, including Brother Rat, which opened in 1936. He had lead roles in Room Service (1937–1938) and The Boys from Syracuse (1938–1939). In 1936, Albert had also become one of the earliest television actors, performing live in RCA's first television broadcast, a promotion for their New York City radio stations. Performing regularly on early television, Albert wrote and performed in the first teleplay, "The Love Nest", written for television.

In 1938, he made his feature film debut in the Hollywood version of Brother Rat with Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, reprising his Broadway role as cadet "Bing" Edwards. The next year, he starred in On Your Toes, adapted for the screen from the Broadway smash by Rodgers and Hart. His contract with Warner Bros. was abruptly terminated in 1941, purportedly because of an affair he was having with studio head Jack L. Warner's wife. 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. Other well-known screen roles of his include 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.

Eddie Albert suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his last years and died of pneumonia on May 26, 2005 at the age of 99 at his home in Pacific Palisades. He is buried at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, next to his wife Margo and his Green Acres co-star Eva Gabor., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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