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Could you imagine anyone other than Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor portraying Manhattan transplants Lisa and Oliver Douglas on Green Acres? While the series ended its illustrious run in 1971, Lisa and Oliver are still considered one of the most iconic TV couples ever. Gabor and Albert’s natural chemistry is largely credited with making the show great. Despite that, Albert and Gabor were not CBS executives’ first choices for their roles. In fact, Albert was only offered the job after another actor passed on it. 

Eddie Albert only landed the role of Oliver Douglas after another actor declined the job 

Eddie Albert was amazing as Oliver Douglas, the Manhattanite who dreamed of living a simpler life and made it happen, despite his wife’s objections. The way he portrayed Oliver’s exasperation with his wife, Lisa, and the eccentric residents of their nondescript farming town, Hooterville, helped the series succeed. Still, Albert wasn’t a shoo-in for the role. 

Albert was only offered the part after Don Ameche passed on the role. According to Newsbreak, Albert made the most of the opportunity, despite not being the network’s top choice of actors. He reportedly negotiated a stake in the series and made money from the show for years after its illustrious run ended.

It worked out for both Albert and Ameche. While Albert absolutely owned the role of Oliver Douglas, Ameche was attached to various famous projects. Trading Places fans may remember the actor as Mortimer Duke. He appeared in several other cult classics before he died in 1993 at the age of 85. 

Eva Gabor wasn’t a top contender to play Lisa Douglas in ‘Green Acres’ either 

Eva Gabor wasn’t on the radar for casting agents during the first round of auditions, either. According to Newsbreak, Albert had screen tests with two other actors before Gabor’s name was finally brought up in conversation. Albert revealed that he had worked with Marsha Hunt and Janet Blair on scenes for Green Acres, but neither actor nailed their screen tests. Eventually, Gabor’s name came into the conversation. 

Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor pose together on set of 'Green Acres'
Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor | CBS via Getty Images

‘Green Acres’ Was a Favorite Show of a United States President

Evan, after Gabor’s name was brought up by the show’s creator, Paul Henning, the Budapest-born actor had an uphill battle to land the role. According to several sources, TV executives were concerned that, although stunning, Gabor would be difficult for audiences to connect with because of her accent. TV executives couldn’t have been more wrong. Audiences loved listening to Gabor speak, and her iconic voice and accent helped set the series apart from its competition. 

Blair went on to star in The Smith Family for two seasons. Hunt, an actor who had once been the doll of Hollywood, was named a communist sympathizer in 1950. She was subsequently blacklisted from Hollywood for several years. She would eventually find work, but sparingly. Whether that led to her failed screen test for Green Acres is unknown. Hunt spoke about the difficult period in her life in 2012. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “I was appalled, hurt, shocked that journalism could be so far out in prejudice.”