Eddie Albert joined Green Acres because he related so much to Oliver Wendell Douglas
Eddie Albert’s Hollywood career started all the way back in the late 1930s, after investigating Nazi activity in Mexico as a spy for the U.S. government and before serving in WWII as part of the Coast Guard. Even with his military service, he still managed to appear in multiple movies a year throughout the 1940s into the 1950s.
Though he began guest starring on the new medium of television, he still thought of himself as a film actor, appearing in movies like Roman Holiday, The Sun Also Rises and Oklahoma!
In fact, a 1966 TV Guide article notes that Albert was “resisting TV series like measles for 15 years.” He turned down roles in My Three Sons and Mr. Ed thinking television “is geared to mediocrity.” But really, he just hadn’t found the right character he could fully relate to.
When CBS wrote Paul Henning a blank check to create a third series after smash successes The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, the prolific producer turned to writer Jay Sommers, who had created a radio show in 1950 called Granby’s Green Acres about a banker who tries his hand at farming. Sommers shortened the title, made the banker a lawyer and one of the Sixties’ most popular shows was born.
As Eddie Albert tells it, one sentence about the new show was enough to get him onboard. His agent pitched, “City slicker comes to the country to escape the aggravations of city living,” and Albert said, “Swell, that’s me. Everyone gets tired of the rat race. Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots. It’s basic. Sign me.”
Albert even pontificated about philosophy, bringing up ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes and mentioning American writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau to TV Guide. “It’s about the atavistic urge, and people have been getting a charge out of that ever since Aristophanes wrote about the plebs and the city folk. In a sense, Thoreau is the real author of Green Acres.”
While Albert’s highfalutin vocabulary has us feeling like farmhand Eb Dawson scratching our heads, the point is well made. Excuse us while we go try to plant some carrots.