Jack Albertson: Started Out as a Vaudeville Hoofer

For someone of my age, Jack Albertson was VERY present in the early 1970s: Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, pictured above), Manny Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure (1972, the first movie I ever saw in a theatre) and Ed Brown in the hit tv series Chico and the Man (1974-78), which co-starred him with Freddy Prinze. The casting of the latter was a stroke of genius, juxtaposing as it did the new show business with the old.

Albertson was originally from Malden, Massachusetts. His mother was an actress, as was his sister, Mabel Albertson, perhaps best remembered as Darren’s mother on Bewitched.  Jack started out with a vaudeville dance act called the Dancing Verselle Sisters (one assumes he wasn’t one of the sisters). In burlesque and in the Catskills he partnered with Phil Silvers, and from there went on to Broadway, films and television. He is one of the few people to win a Tony, an Oscar and an Emmy. He is also one of the few people (George Burns was another) to enjoy his greatest fame as a senior citizen. He passed away in 1981.

To find out about  the history of vaudeville and vaud veterans like Jack Albertsonconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

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