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Mendez-Globe Photos/Image Collect Academy Award-winning actor Jack Albertson (pictured with wife Wallace Thompson) came from a show business family.


Radio Mirror
Mabel Albertson enjoyed a long career in show business. She was
a familiar guest star in many TV series in the 1960s, including Bewitched.


Jack Albertson's Kinship to
Cloris Leachman and Sharon Stone

By James Pylant


Revised 12 March 2015

"I’ve heard that Jack Albertson was Cloris Leachman’s uncle; is that true?" a friend asked. The late actor, who co-starred with Freddie Prinz in a television series, Chico and the Man (1974—1978), and opposite Shelley Winters in the Poseidon Adventure (1972),1 was an uncle-by-marriage to actress Cloris Leachman. He was also a grand uncle-by-marriage to actress Sharon Stone.

A native of Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts,2 Jack Albertson was born 16 June 1907 to immigrant parents, Leo Albertson and Flora Craft.3 His sister, actress Mabel Albertson, was reportedly born in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, on 24 July 1901.4 However, her son, producer George Englund, tells me that he believes her birthplace was Haverhill (also in Essex County).5 The family has been acting for generations, the first being Jack and Mabel's mother, a stock actress.6 One source says there was yet another actor-sibling, Frank Albertson, which is incorrect.7 "The actor Frank Albertson was no relation to our family," says Mr. Englund.8

George Englund also shared other details about his family background:9

At some point, my grandmother, Flora Kraft, was divorced from Leo Albertson and later married Alexander Ehrlich. Mr. Ehrlich was the only grandfather my sister Pasty and I knew. My sister and I lived with our grandparents in Lynn in the late 20s and perhaps early 30s. . . My grandparents continued to live in Lynn until 1938 or 39 when they came to live in Beverly Hills, California.

"We were really poor," said Jack Albertson in an interview a few years before his death. "My father took a powder, and my mother had to work in a shoe factory to support my sister and me."10

Leopold Albertson, a shoemaker, son of Hirsch Albertson and Anna Blicarsky, and Flora Craft, a dressmaker, daughter of Luis Craft and Rosa Zalmanovitz, were married in Boston on 25 December 1900. Both were twenty-two and Russian-born.11

Alexander Eliss Erlich lived at 172 Washington, in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1918, when he registered for the draft. He was a self-employed barber, born on 5 August 1884 in Russia. His wife, Flora Erlich, was named as nearest relative.12 Eight years earlier, Alec Herlich, age 26, a barber, and divorcée Flora Albertson, age 30, wedded on 1 June 1910 in Lynn.13

The 1920 census shows Alexander Erlich, age thirty-four, renting a dwelling at 172 Washington, in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. Under birthplace, "Russian Volina" [Vilnius] is entered, and Yiddish is given as his parents' native tongue. A laborer in an iron shop, he came to America in 1907. His wife, Flora, age forty, born in Russia, also of Yiddish-speaking parents, came to America in 1897. Harold Albertson, stepson, age twelve, born in Massachusetts, is also listed in the household.14 Mabel Albertson, age 19, who worked in retail as a saleslady, boarded next door with a Canadian family, at 173 Washington. New York, instead of Massachusetts, is listed as her birthplace, and "Vilna (Russia)" is identified as the birthplace of both parents.15 Mabel, however, was already working in show business by that time, having received her first paying job at 13.16

Flora Erlich was born 25 December 1879 and died at age 75 on 30 June 1955 in Beverly Hills, California. Her death certificate identified her father as Zalmon Craft rather than Luis Craft.17 Alexander Erlich died in Los Angeles on 26 January 1973.18

The 1930 census listed Jack Albertson as Harold Albertson, who rented a residence on East 89th Street, in Manhattan. At age 22, he was a theater actor. Living with him was sister Mabel Albertson, age 28, divorced and a stage actress. Both were born in Massachusetts to Russian parents. The household had three others: Mabel's children, Patrica [Patricia] Ripley, age five, born in Pennsylvania, and George Ripley, age four, born in the District of Columbia; and a twenty-year-old Irish maid.19

Mabel Albertson had married Harold Austin Ripley, a publicist, in 1924. She filed for divorce from Ripley in January 1932 in Salem, Massachusetts, and was granted custody of their two children, Patricia and George.20 George was born in Washington, DC, in 1926.21 He and sister Patricia, an actress, both took Englund as their last name following their mother's remarriage to Ken Englund, a radio and film writer. No, No, Nanette, This Thing Called Love, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are among the famous movies written by Ken Englund. He died at age 79 on 10 August 1993 in Los Angeles.22

Coming to California in 1937, Mabel Albertson found work at the Pasadena Playhouse. Her long career ran the gamut in the entertainment industry—music demonstrating, stock, vaudeville, radio, movies, television, and the stage.23 She was a familiar guest star in many television series in the 1960s, usually as an affluent, snobbish character. Most notably was her recurring role of the disapproving, bewildered mother-in-law of Elizabeth Montgomery’s Samantha Stephens in Bewitched. She is also remembered as the clinging mother of Howard Sprague on Mayberry, and later as mother of Donald Hollinger in That Girl. In Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy What's Up, Doc? Mabel Albertson's Mrs. Van Hoskins was a more flamboyant role.24 "There are times I’d like to play something other than a disapproving mother-in-law," the actress said of being typecast.25

George Englund followed family tradition in the entertainment industry, succeeding as a producer, writer, and director. Englund headed Marlon Brando’s production company, and his long relationship with that actor is chronicled in a book, The Way It's Never Done Before: My Friendship with Marlon Brando. He also directed Brando in the critically acclaimed movie, The Ugly American.

In 1974, Englund's mother starred in a television movie, Pete and Tillie, with his wife, actress Cloris Leachman. "We have the most wonderful relationship," said Miss Albertson of her daughter-in-law. "Cloris is a gift. She has never been unkind to me."26 Mabel Albertson died on 28 December 1982 in Santa Monica, California.27

Cloris Leachman was born in De Moines, Iowa, on 30 April 1926. She and George Englund married in 1953 and divorced in 1979. They had five children: George Englund, Jr., Bryan Englund, Adam Englund, Dinah Englund, and Morgan Englund, all of whom have carried on the family's career in show business. George Englund, Jr., was the second husband of actress Sharon Stone.28


  1. Jack Albertson, Internet Movie Database, online <>, downloaded 7 December 2006. This includes a detailed listing of one hundred and fifty roles in his long film career.
  2. "Jack Albertson, Versatile Star of Stage, Film and TV Series," The New York Times, 26 November 1981.
  3. Jack Albertson, death certificate no. 0190-053506 (1981), State of California, Office of State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Sacramento.
  4. Bewitched Beography: Mabel Albertson, online <>, downloaded 7 December 2006.
  5. George Englund to James Pylant, 8 December 2006.
  6. "Mabel Albertson, 81, TV and Movie Actress," The New York Times, 1 October 1982, states Miss Albertson was "the daughter of a New England stock actress."
  7. Jack Albertson, Filmbug, online <>, downloaded 7 December 2006.
  8. George Englund to James Pylant, 8 December 2006.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Jack Albertson obituary, The New York Times, 26 November 1981.
  11. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841—1910, Vol. 503, p. 325; online database <>, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.
  12. Alexander Eliss Erlich, no. 20-5-12 C, Essex County, Massachusetts, World War I Selective Service System, Draft Registration Cards, 1917—1918, Family History Library (Salt Lake City) microfilm 1674354.
  13. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841—1910, Vol. 594, p. 576; online database <>.
  14. Alexander Erlich household, 1920 U.S. census, Essex County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Lynn, enumeration district [ED] 177, supervisor's district [SD] 5, sheet 15B, p. 173, sheet 15B, NA microfilm T625-694.
  15. William D. Frazer household, 1920 U.S. census, Essex County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Lynn, ED176, SD 5, p. 14B.
  16. "Mabel Albertson Enjoys Roles in Variety of Stage Plays," Independent Star-News (Pasadena, California), 17 Dec. 1967, p. C-9.
  17. Flora Erlich death certificate, no. 11517 (1955), Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Norwalk, Calif.
  18. Alec E. Erlich entry, no. 026-18-8620, Social Security Administration <>, downloaded 19 January 2007.
  19. Harold Albertson household, 1930 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, ED 31-540; SD 22, p. 251, sheet 23A, NA microfilm T226-1566.
  20. "Booze and the Absent Treatment + Divorce," Variety, 12 January 1932.
  21. George Englund— Biography, online <>, downloaded 7 December 2006.
  22. "Ken Englund is Dead; Screenwriter was 79," The New York Times, 13 August 1993.
  23. Independent Star-News, 17 December 1967.
  24. Mabel Albertson, Internet Movie Database, online <>, downloaded 7 December 2006.
  25. Independent Star-News, 17 December 1967.
  26. 'Seasoned Actress has Salty Image,' Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut), 21 September 1973.
  27. "Mabel Albertson, 81, TV and Movie Actress," The New York Times, 1 October 1982.
  28. Cloris Leachman, Wikipedia, online <>, downloaded 26 January 2007.