Eddie Albert starred in a 1957 musical drama film with Frank Sinatra

Being the best friend of Frank Sinatra's character was a role no one but Albert could play.

(L) Distributed by Paramount Pictures 1957

It's no secret that Eddie Albert wanted to be a singer. In fact, he once stated that to become "a singing personality," he had to get the role of Oliver Wendell Douglas on Green Acres. Eight years before he would get the classic part, he starred in the 1957 musical drama The Joker Is Wild.

The critically acclaimed film was about a popular nightclub singer, Joe E. Lewis (Frank Sinatra), who also worked for a Mob in Chicago. Things were going fine for Lewis until he accepted the opportunity to work elsewhere.

For the singer, this was a massive step in his career, but for the Mob workers, it was a sign of disrespect. Austin Mack (Eddie Albert) was his best bud and a pianist who tried to warn Lewis of the consequences leaving would bring.

Yet, the young star had his heart set on working where ever he pleased, resulting in an assault that damaged his vocal cords. When he recovered, the life he once knew was no longer, so Lewis became a self-destructive comic who was unrecognizable to the ones he loved.

Real-life events inspired the movie, the trials and tribulations of the real Joe E. Lewis, to be exact. Like the movie, he was a nightclub star in Chicago who got involved with the wrong people and was assaulted. His life was also written about in the book The Joker Is Wild: The Story of Joe E. Lewis, to which Frank Sinatra bought the rights.

Albert didn't get the chance to show off his vocals, but the role showcased his versatility. Playing the best pal of Frank Sinatra's character was another highlight in his decades-long career that began in 1933. It was one of the six films he was a part of between 1957-1959, with over 130 movie roles and television appearances combined throughout his career.

Eddie Albert had a career so powerful that he's known by name and not by one specific character he played. So whether you're watching Green Acres or The Joker Is Wild, there's one thing for sure: Albert was one of a kind.


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13 Comments

jackbennyfan 15 days ago
I have not seen the musical movie. Eddie Albert is a good actor and have watched many of his movies. Eddie and Robert Wagner were in a tv series from 1975-1978 called Switch where they start their own detective agency. I enjoyed watching that and would like to watch that again.
tootsieg 16 days ago
Eddie Albert had a wonderful career. In a movie with Frank Sinatra. Wow!
MrsPhilHarris 16 days ago
I vaguely remember the movie. 🤔
Andybandit 19 days ago
That is so cool. Eddie was probably so happy to play in a movie with Frank Sinatra.
Pacificsun 19 days ago
Well said, and beautifully written article. Interesting details, concise, and a very nice tribute to Mr. Albert's innate talent. No easy feat, keeping up with Frank Sinatra or his expectations or his quirks. Eddie Albert must've truly been a blessing among Frank Sinatra's inner circle, to be long-lived on such good terms.

I'm so glad the experience contributed to Eddie Albert's solid reputation. He worked hard for it. And we're fortunate to be enjoying his talent on MeTV's run of Green Acres.

Thank you for the Story!!
cperrynaples 20 days ago
Sadly, one Albert performance you can't see is as Cybill Shepherd's father in the original and much better version of The Heartbreak Kid with Charles Grodin! Despite an Oscar nomination, it's not streaming because of film rights! In a perfect world, we would see the Grodin version and burn the Ben Stiller version!
Bricat2001 cperrynaples 19 days ago
Is it on VHS or DVD?
cperrynaples Bricat2001 17 days ago
If you mean the 1972 version, it's neither! That's how stupid this situation is! The Ben Stiller version is on DVD and Bluray but don't bother!
tootsieg cperrynaples 16 days ago
One of my favorites. Very good movie. Never watched the 1972 version. Thanks for the reason why I haven’t seen it in eons.
cperrynaples 20 days ago
I remember Frank sang "I Cried For You", also performed by Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues! One film of Eddie's that everyone forgets: He was Gregory Peck's buddy in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn!
ncadams27 20 days ago
I recall reading in a 1965 newspaper TV column that Eddie Albert was signed to appear in a new sitcom in the fall called “The Eddie Albert Show”.
cperrynaples ncadams27 20 days ago
That was Green Acres! They decided to use the radio title!
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