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Jack Albertson

Jack Albertson (June 16, 1907 - November 25, 1981) was considered a complete entertainer from the old school. He was an American actor, comedian, dancer, singer, and musician.

Jack was born in Malden, Massachusetts to Flora Craft, a Russian immigrant, and Leo Albertson, a Polish immigrant. He had a sister, Mabel, and a brother, Frank, who were also actors.

Jack dropped out of high school and traveled to New York City in an attempt make it big in show business. He was too poor to get a room in a flop house, so in the winter he would sleep on the IRT subway 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 would sleep in Central Park (This was in the age before the muggers took over the park at night). His first real job in show business was with a vaudeville road troupe, the Dancing Verselle Sisters.

Jack soon 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 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 nomination for Best Actor), and The Subject was Roses (for which he won a Tony for Best Supporting Actor). He was also know for two radio programs, Just Plain Bill and The Jack Albertson Comedy Show.

Jack Albertson had a prolific movie career as well, mostly playing supporting roles. Notable among these were:

  • a bit part as the postal worker who redirected all of Santa Claus' mail to the New York Courthouse in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • a film version of Top Banana (1953), teamed again with his friend Phil Silvers
  • The Subject was Roses (1968), for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  • The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Jack Albertson was married to Wallace (Wally) Thompson and had one daughter, Maura. He resided for years in a modest home in West Hollywood. In 1978 he was diagnosed with colon cancer, but kept this information from the public so he could continue to act. He made one movie, My Body, My Child (1982) and one TV movie, Grandpa, Will You Run With Me? (1982) before his death that were released posthumously.

Jack Albertson died on Wednesday, November 25th, 1981 at 1:30 in the afternoon. He was 74 years old. He was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.


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Jack Albertson Facts

OccupationActor
BirthdayJune 16, 1907
SignGemini
BirthplaceMalden, Massachusetts, USA
Date of deathNovember 25, 1981 (age 74)
Height5' 11" (1m80)  How tall is Jack Albertson compared to you?
Awards1969 Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (for The Subject Was Roses)

Selected Filmography

The Enemy Below
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Teacher's Pet
The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound II
The Shelter
Miracle on 34th Street
It's A Wonderful Life
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