"Farm living is the
life for me."
- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium
Green Acres is an American sitcom starring
Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to
a country farm. Produced by Filmways as a sister show to Petticoat
Junction, the series was first broadcast on CBS, from September 15th,
1965, to April 27th, 1971. All episodes were filmed in color. The
1997 the two-part episode "A Star Named Arnold Is Born" was
ranked #59 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time.
In 1950 the CBS radio network aired an
eight-episode summer series titled The Granby's Green Acres. The
comedy show was created by Jay Sommers, who also wrote, produced, and directed.
The principal characters, a married
couple, John and Martha Granby, played by Bea Benaderet and Gale
Gordon, (top left) were inspired by characters (Mr. and Mrs.
Atterbury) heard on the Lucille Ball show, "My Favorite
Husband." Louise Erickson played Janice, the Granbys' daughter,
and Parley Baer played Eb, the farm's hired hand (top right). The
nearby feed store is operated by the absent-minded Will Kimble, who
was played by Howard McNear in the first episode and by Horace Murphy
in subsequent broadcasts. Bob LeMond was the announcer, and Opie
Cates was the music director.
The Granby's premise was that a big-city
banker fulfills a lifelong dream by moving his family to a run-down
farm, despite knowing nothing about farming. The show's creator, Jay
Sommers, based its concept on memories of time he spent as a boy on a
farm near Greendale, New York. His stepfather went broke trying to
make the farm successful. In 1948, Granby's Green Acres was
auditioned for a slot on ABC with Hanley Stafford originally set to
star. Of the eight episodes that aired, five remain in existence, as
does the unaired pilot episode.
Although Granby's Green Acres was not
transferred directly to television, as were many old-time radio
programs, it provided the inspiration for Green Acres. Following the
success of The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, CBS
offered producer Paul Henning another half-hour slot on the schedule,
without requiring a pilot episode. Faced with running three shows,
Henning asked Petticoat writer Sommers to create a series for the
time slot. Sommers proposed reviving Granby's Green Acres. In
pre-production, proposed titles were Country Cousins and The Eddie
Albert Show. Sommers would go on to write and produce about one-third
of the episodes of Green Acres that was set in the same universe as
Henning's Petticoat Junction witch starred Bea Benaderet, which ment
Benaderet's old radio show had become a spinoff of her television
show. Being in the same universe as Petticoat Junction Green Acres
shared many of the same characters including Joe Carson, Fred and
Doris Ziffel, Sam Drucker, Newt Kiley, and Floyd Smoot as well as
locations including Pixley, Crabwell Corners, Stankwell Falls and of
The plot of Green Acres festured Oliver
Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), an erudite New York City attorney,
fulfilling his dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor),
his glamorous Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from an upscale
Manhattan penthouse apartment to a ramshackle farm.
The debut episode is a mockumentary about
their decision to move to a rural area, anchored by former ABC
newscaster John Charles Daly. Daly was the host of the CBS game show
What's My Line, and a few weeks after the show's debut Albert and
Gabor returned the favor by appearing on What's My Line as that
episode's Mystery Guests, and publicly thanked Daly for helping to
launch their series.
Though many Green Acres episodes were
still standard 1960s sitcom fare, the show developed a regular
undercurrent of surrealism and satire. The writers soon developed a
suite of running jokes and visual gags, and characters often broke
the fourth wall to address the audience.
Oliver Wendell Douglas
Much of the humor derives from Oliver's
striving toward success and happiness in an absurd situation, despite
the rural citizenry, his high-maintenance wife Lisa, and his affluent
mother (Eleanor Audley) who regularly ridicules him for his
Oliver is subject to ribbing by the
townsfolk when he performs farming chores dressed in a three-piece
suit, and when he launches into starry-eyed monologues about "the
American farmer" - replete with a fife playing "Yankee
Doodle" in the background (which every on-screen character
except Oliver can hear).
He drives a late-model Lincoln Continental
convertible, a stark contrast to the ramshackle vehicles generally shown.
Eddie Albert was a circus trapeze flier
before becoming a stage and radio actor. He made his film debut in
1938 and has worked steadily since, often cast as the friendly,
good-natured buddy of the hero but occasionally being cast as a
villain; one of his most memorable roles was as the cowardly,
glory-seeking army officer in Robert Aldrich's World War 2 film,
Eddie Albert's television career is the
earliest of any other performer. It began years before electronic
television was introduced to the public. In June of 1936 Eddie
appeared in RCA/NBC's first private live performance for their radio
licensees in New York City. This was very early experimental all
electronic television system. Due to the primitive nature of these
early cameras it was necessary for him to apply heavy make-up and
endure tremendous heat from studio lighting. The basic makeup was
green toned with purple lipstick for optimal image transmission by
RCA's iconoscope pick up cameras. Since television was experimental
Eddie Albert applied his own make-up and even wrote the script for
this performance. For more visit our Eddie Albert Trivaography Who's
Who Biography page.
Lisa and Oliver are both veterans of World
War II, respectively a member of the Hungarian underground and a
United States Army Air Forces flier.
Lisa's skewed world view and domestic
ignorance provide fertile ground for recurring gags. Much of her
early life was lived in Hungary, where she grew up pampered in a
wealthy family. Instead of washing dishes, Lisa sometimes tosses them
out the kitchen window (a gag also used by Phyllis Diller in The
Pruitts of Southampton). In the episode "Alf and Ralph Break
Up", Lisa admits that she has no cooking abilities and says her
only talent is her Zsa Zsa Gabor imitation (the real-life sisters
were often mistaken for one another).
Oliver and Lisa are both depicted as fish
out of water; however, while Oliver instigated the move from
Manhattan to Hooterville over Lisa's objections, Lisa more naturally
fits into the illogic of their neighbors while quickly assimilating
to their quirky, offbeat surroundings. Oliver, while eager to fit in,
is often at a loss to grasp the surreal situations.
Gabor (February 11th, 1919 - July 4th, 1995) was a Hungarian-American
actress, businesswoman, singer, and socialite. Her elder sisters,
Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor, were also actresses and socialites.
Gabor was born in Budapest, Hungary, the
youngest of three daughters of Vilmos Gabor (died 1962), a soldier,
and his wife Jolie (18961997), a jeweler. Her parents were both
from Hungarian Jewish families. She was the first of the sisters to
immigrate to the US, shortly after her first marriage, to a Swedish
osteopath, Dr. Eric Drimmer, whom she married in 1937 when she was 18
years old. Her first movie role was in the 1941 action film
"Forced Landing" for Paramount Pictures. During the 1950s
she appeared in several feature films, including The Last Time I Saw
Paris, starring Elizabeth Taylor; and Artists and Models, which
featured Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. In 1953, she was given her own
television talk show, The Eva Gabor Show, which ran for one season
(195354). Through the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s she
appeared on television and in movies including a remake of My Man
Godfrey, Gigi and It Started with a Kiss.
Gabor was best known for her television
role on Green Acres but Gabor was also a successful businesswoman,
marketing wigs, clothing and beauty products. Gabor later did
voice-over work for Disney movies, providing the European-accented
voices of Duchess in The Aristocats (1970), and Miss Bianca in The
Rescuers (1977) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990), as well as the
Queen of Time in the English version of the Japanese film Nutcracker
was a panelist on the Gene Rayburn-hosted Match Game and in 1983
reunited with Eddie Albert on Broadway as the Grand Duchess Olga
Katrina in You Can't Take It with You. She later toured post-communist
Hungary after a 40-year absence on an episode of Lifestyles of the
Rich and Famous.
Gabor was married five times, but had no
children. Her first husband was Dr. Eric Valdemar Drimmer (1937 -
1942). She was married to Charles Isaacs, an American investment
broker, from 1943 to 1949). Her third husband was John Elbert
Williams, MD, a plastic surgeon (1956 - 1957). She married Richard
Brown, a textile manufacturer, who later became a writer and
director, in 1959. They divorced in 1973. Her final marriage was to
Frank Gard Jameson Sr., an aerospace executive and former vice
president of Rockwell International (1973 - 1983). Gabor became a
stepmother to Jameson's four children.
Gabor also had a long term on-and off
affair with actor Glenn Ford which began during the filming of
Dont Go Near the Water in 1957. They dated between their
marriages and almost married in the early 1970s.
After her final marriage, Gabor was
involved in a relationship with TV producer Merv Griffin until her
death. It was rumored that this was a platonic relationship to hide
Griffin's suspected homosexuality. Gabor died in Los Angeles on July
4th, 1995, from respiratory failure and pneumonia, following a fall
in a bathtub in Mexico, where she had been on vacation. The youngest
Gabor sister, Eva predeceased her elder sisters and her mother.
Eldest sister Magda and mother Jolie Gabor both died two years later,
in 1997. Elder sister Zsa Zsa died from cardiac arrest on December
- The Gabor Sisters: Zsa
Zsa, Magda and Eva, in 1955 (Photo Associated Press)
Mr. (Eustace) Haney
Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram) is the oily,
dishonest local salesman who originally sold Oliver the Green Acres
Farm (previously the Old Haney Place). In the early episodes Haney
repeatedly profiteers from Oliver by removing all the farm's basic
fittings and equipment (the kitchen sink, bath, stove, cow, tractor,
plow, etc.), and selling or renting them back to Oliver at wildly
inflated prices. In succeeding episodes Haney invariably arrives on
cue every time Oliver needs an item or service, typically accompanied
by a custom-made sign for each occasion. Pat Buttram later revealed
that Haney's character was inspired by Elvis Presley manager Col. Tom Parker.
Buttram was the son of a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in rural
Alabama. He left Alabama a month before his 18th birthday to attend
the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. An announcer from radio station WLS
was on hand to interview members of the crowd and settled on Buttram
as a typical visitor from the South. The interview that followed was
anything but typical. He made a hit with his hilarious observations
on the fair and was immediately offered a job with the station. This
led to a long and happy association with the popular "National
Barn Dance" radio program. During those years he met Gene Autry,
who took a liking to the young comic and later brought him to
Hollywood to replace Smiley Burnette (Burnette was also a resident of
Hooterville with a regular role on Petticoat Junction as Charley Pratt).
Together Autry and Buttram made many
western films and a television series, The Gene Autry Show (1950),
which aired from 1950 until 1956. They remained close friends until
Pat's death in 1994.
In 1952 Buttram married actress Sheila
Ryan, whom he had met on the set of Mule Train (1950). Over the next
40 years Pat prospered in radio, films and television, making
stand-up appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) and lending his
vocal talents to many animated television shows and films, including
several Walt Disney features. In the early 1960s he revealed a flair
for dramatic acting when Alfred Hitchcock tapped him for roles in two
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962) episodes. His big television break
came in 1965 with the role of "Mr. Haney" in the
long-running CBS comedy Green Acres (1965).
Throughout his career Buttram was in
constant demand as a toastmaster and after-dinner speaker, where his
agile and sophisticated wit belied his "countrified"
appearance. In 1982 he founded the Golden Boot Awards to honor
actors, directors, stunt people and other industry professionals who
have made significant contributions to the western film genre.
Proceeds from the annual event are donated to the Motion Picture
Health and Welfare Fund.
Eb Dawson (Tom Lester) is the naive,
wide-eyed, yet smart-mouthed young farmhand to the Douglases. He
habitually addresses the Douglases as "Dad" and
"Mom", much to Oliver's consternation.
Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi, one of two children (both
sons) of Pat Lester (1913-2009), a bookkeeper with Gulf Oil, and Mary
Sue Lester (1914-2009). In 1948, he became a born-again Christian and
got involved in the Baptist church. He graduated from the University
of Mississippi, majoring in Chemistry and taught science and biology
at a school in Purcell, Oklahoma, before moving to Hollywood.
After moving to Hollywood, Lester met
actress Lurene Tuttle, who became his friend and acting coach. She
suggested he begin work in the Little Theater, which he did, acting
in showcases at the North Hollywood Playhouse.
In the early 1960s Lester performed in a
play with CBS producer Paul Henning's daughter Linda Kaye Henning
(Betty Jo Bradley of Petticoat Junction), and Lester soon found
himself auditioning for the role of Eb Dawson on Green Acres. Lester
beat 400 other actors to play the character after a screen test. He
says he got the role because he was the only one who could milk a cow
in real life since he grew up on a farm in Mississippi.
Lester played the same character (Eb
Dawson) on three different series: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962),
Petticoat Junction (1963) and Green Acres (1965). Even during the
height of Green Acres' popularity, Lester lived in a small apartment
atop a garage in the San Fernando Valley. Each year during the show's
summer hiatus he would travel the country and speak at churches,
youth rallies and revival meetings and at one time was part of the
Rev. Billy Graham's organization.
Lester appeared in nearly every Green
Acres episode between 196571, with the exception of the first
half in the 196768 season when he suffered mononucleosis. The
show's explanation for Eb's absence was that he had eloped and was on
Lester's acting mentor was the late Eddie
Albert. Like Eb on the series, Lester referred to actor Eddie Albert
as his "surrogate father". When Green Acres was canceled in
1971, Albert and Lester remained close friends and continued to stay
in touch until Albert's death in 2005.
After Green Acres Lester has kept busy
with his church work, occasional acting jobs and his 250-acre timber
farm in Vossburg, Mississippi. In 1997 he was selected as
Mississippi's Wildlife Farmer Of The Year.
Fred and Doris Ziffel
Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson) and his wife
Doris (Barbara Pepper 19651968, Fran Ryan 19691971) are
the Douglases' childless elderly neighbors. They have a pig named
Arnold, whom they treat as their "son". Fred is a
cantankerous old-fashioned farmer who was born during the Grover
Cleveland administration. Everything about him is
"no-nonsense", except for the fact that his "son"
is a pig.
Patterson (1888 - 1975) was an American actor and musician, best
known foremost for playing two recurring characters on three
television series: the stableman Hank Miller on Gunsmoke and farmer
Fred Ziffel on both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.
Patterson was born in Springville,
Alabama, one of seven children. By the 1890s his family had moved to
Taylor, Texas, where he spent most of his boyhood and attended school
through 8th grade. In 1917 he registered for a World War I draft card
in Lubbock County, Texas.
Patterson had intended to be a serious
pianist, but he instead became a vaudeville piano player. By the end
of the 1920s he moved to California and entered the movie business.
His earliest identified screen work was an uncredited appearance in
the Roy Rogers' Western film The Arizona Kid (1939). Patterson found
plenty of movie work, mainly playing cantankerous types as well as
blacksmiths, hotel clerks, farmers, shopkeepers and other townsmen,
usually bit roles and character parts in Republic Pictures westerns,
and then in popular TV westerns such as The Cisco Kid, The Adventures
of Kit Carson, The Lone Ranger, Annie Oakley, Have Gun-Will Travel,
Death Valley Days, Maverick, Wagon Train, Daniel Boone, The
Virginian, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Bat Masterson and many others. He
also guest starred on The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Burke's Law,
The Untouchables, My Three Sons, and in later years The Mod Squad and
Love, American Style. He also had small cameo appearances in a number
of sci-fi movies by Bert I. Gordon: Beginning of the End, The Amazing
Colossal Man, Attack of the Puppet People, and Earth vs. The Spider.
In 1963 Patterson first appeared in what
would become a recurring role as farmer Fred Ziffel on Petticoat
Junction, set in the mythical farming community of Hooterville.
Characters from Petticoat Junction often also appeared on Green Acres
and in 1965 and 1966 Patterson frequently appeared in both shows in
the same week in primetime.
The association of Patterson's character
with the popular character Arnold, the pet pig whom Fred and his wife
Doris treated as a son, ensured Patterson a place in TV history.
Arnold attended school, watched TV and was a talented artist, piano
player, and actor. He even "talked" (snorted, grunted and
squealed) in a language that everyone in Hooterville seemed to
understand except Oliver Wendell Douglas.
By the time Patterson was doing Green
Acres he was in his late 70s and almost completely deaf, but the
producers loved his portrayal so much they worked around his hearing
impairment by having the dialogue coach lying on the floor
out-of-shot tapping his leg with a yardstick as a cue to speak his line.
Patterson died at age 86 in 1975. His wife
Daisy died died four years late, also at age 86. Patterson's
great-niece is actress Tea Leoni (Madam Secretary).
Pepper (1915 - 1969) was an American stage, television, radio, and
film actress, best known as the first "Doris Ziffel" on
Green Acres. Pepper was born in New York City, the daughter of actor
David Mitchell "Dave" Pepper, and his wife, Harrietta S.
Pepper. At age 16 she started life in show business with Goldwyn
Girls, a musical stock company where she met lifelong friend Lucille
Ball during production of Eddie Cantor's Roman Scandals in 1933.
From 1937 to 1943 Barbara was a very
prolific actress, appearing in 43 movies, mostly in supporting roles
or in minor films, with exceptions being main characters in The
Rogues' Tavern and Mummy's Boys, both feature films released in 1936.
Among her later film parts were small roles in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad,
Mad World (1963) and My Fair Lady (1964). She also performed radio
parts. In 1943, she married actor Craig Reynolds, and the couple
later had two sons. After Reynolds died in 1949 in a California
motorcycle accident, Pepper was left to raise their children alone.
She never remarried.
After gaining weight, her roles were
mostly confined to small character parts on television, including
several appearances on I Love Lucy, The George Burns and Gracie Allen
Show, Petticoat Junction, The Jack Benny Program and Perry Mason.
A long-time friend of Lucille Ball,
Barbara was considered for the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy,
but was passed over due to the fact that she was reportedly a
drinker. William Frawley ("Fred Mertz") was, likewise,
reportedly, a drinker and was already cast. It was felt that having
two drinkers in the cast might eventually cause difficulties so they
auditioned and found Vivian Vance to play Ethel instead.
She may be best remembered as the first
Doris Ziffel on Petticoat Junction in 1964, although her character's
name on the "Genghis Keane" episode of Petticoat Junction
was Ruth Ziffel. Her role as Doris Ziffel continued on Green Acres
from 1965 to 1968, until heart ailments finally forced her to leave
the series. Veteran actress Fran Ryan replaced her on Green Acres,
which would continue to run for another three years. Her final
performance was in Hook, Line & Sinker (1969), in which she
played Jerry Lewis's secretary. Pepper died of a coronary thrombosis
at age 54 on July 18, 1969, in Panorama City, California.
Ryan (1916 - 2000) was an American character actress featured in
television and films. She began performing at the age of six at
Oakland's Henry Duffy Theatre. She attended Stanford University for
three years, and during World War II was a member of the USO
entertaining troops. She performed comedy, singing and acting on
stage in California and Chicago, and launched her television career
two decades later. Her television debut came in episode 43 of Batman,
in 1966, followed by a bit part in Beverly Hillbillies. She also
appeared in a 1972 episode of Columbo, Dagger of the Mind, as
"uncredited woman at the airport."
Ryan's first supporting cast television
role was as Aggie Thompson in the first several episodes of The Doris
Day Show. The same season, she was offered the replacement role on
the series Green Acres as Doris Ziffel from 1969 to 1971. Ryan
replaced Barbara Pepper, who was in poor health and died five months
later of heart ailments. Ryan also starred on the long-running TV
Western series Gunsmoke during its 20th and final season as Miss
Hannah (Cobb). In 1987, she reprised the role of Miss Hannah in the
TV movie Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge.
Ryan played the role of Rosie Carlson in
the soap opera Days of Our Lives (19761979) and Sister Agatha
in General Hospital in 1989. She also did voices for cartoons such as
Hong Kong Phooey, Mister T and Little Dracula. She also starred in
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters in 1975 as Gertrude Grouch and in the
New Zoo Revue as Ms. Goodbody. Her last regular TV role was on The
Dave Thomas Comedy Show.
Ryan appeared in many feature films,
including Big Wednesday (1978), The Long Riders (1980), Take This Job
and Shove It (1981), Pale Rider (1985), Chances Are (1989), and a
cameo appearance in 1981's Stripes. Ryan made many guest appearances
on TV shows, including Adam-12, CHiPs, Quantum Leap, Night Court,
Taxi, Baywatch, and The Commish.
Ryan's first husband, Walter Kenneth Wayne
(whom she married in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1949), died in a plane
crash, in a plane he was piloting in January 1951, while Fran was
pregnant with their first and only child. Fran remarried in January
1953 to Howard Schafer. Howard, too, perished in a plane crash in
Oregon in May 1953 in a plane he was piloting. The wreckage of
Howard's plane was not discovered until 15 years later in November
1968. The remains of Howard and his passengers were never found. All
that was found at the crash site was a woman's shoe, four combs, and
two pair of eyeglasses. Ryan died on January 15th, 2000, at age 83.
Arnold Ziffel is a pig whom the Ziffels
treat as a son, understands English, lives indoors, and is pampered.
Everyone understands Arnold when he grunts, as if he were speaking
English, except Oliver. He is an avid TV watcher and a Western fan,
attends the local grade school (carrying his book pack in his mouth),
and signs his own name on paper. Only Oliver seems cognizant that
Arnold is just livestock, although he frequently slips and begins
treating him as a boy. Arnold makes regular appearances throughout
the series, often visiting the Douglas home to watch their TV.
trainer was Frank Inn (left bottom), a Hollywood legend who trained
virtually all of the animals seen in the television comedies of the
time period. He was the fellow behind Higgins, the adorable dog from
Petticoat Junction who went on to become Benji. He also trained
Orangey the cat, the pooch on My Three Sons, Elly May's numerous
critters on The Beverly Hillbillies, and so many more.
Inn said that he had to use delicate
psychology to train the pigs for Green Acres. Unlike other animals,
he explained, a trainer can never force a pig to do anything or
reprimand them, or else they will come to dislike the trainer and
will not perform for them or even take food from them.
Arnold won three Patsy (Picture Animal Top
Star of the Year) Awards for Inn during the 1960s. Arnold was the
only cast member to win an award for Green Acres. After losing to
Flipper in 1967, he would go on to win three times, beating the likes
of Ben the Bear (Gentle Ben) and Clarence the Lion (Daktari).
Arnold was actually played by a piglet,
and, since piglets quickly grow into adult pigs, at least one piglet
per year had to be trained for the role of Arnold during the six
years that the show was in production. In most episodes, Arnold was
played by a female piglet because they grow slower and smaller. The
piglet was paid $250 per day and had a union contract.
Arnold received a great deal of fan mail
from children as well as adults. A class of sixth-graders from Ohio
wrote with a pledge to stop eating pork chops. His popularity lead to
guest appearances on other series. He turned up on What's My Line and
The Joey Bishop Show.
For years, an urban legend circulated
stating that Arnold was eaten when production wrapped. Not true! The
mistruth was however due to someone who worked on the show, who
became so tired of answering questions about Arnold's fate, he made
up the sinister barbecue tale.
Inn grew quite attached to Arnold the Pig.
When Arnold passed in 1972, at the age of about 7 or 8, he was
cremated. Inn kept the urn of Arnolds' ashes with him until his death
and left instructions to have Arnold's ashes placed in his casket and
buried with him.
The Monroe Brothers
Alf (Sid Melton) and his
"brother" Ralph (Mary Grace Canfield) are two quarrelsome
carpenters. In the episode that introduces them, Alf confesses that
Ralph is actually his sister, and explains they would not get jobs if
people knew that she is a woman. The Monroes rarely finish projects,
and those that they do complete are disasters, such as the Douglases'
bedroom closet's sliding door that is always falling down, their
unsuccessful attempts to secure the doorknob to the front door, etc.
In one episode, after accidentally sawing Sam Drucker's telephone
line at the general store, they splice it back together, although
backwards, causing Drucker to listen at the mouthpiece and talk into
the receiver. Melton left in 1970 (season four) to do Make Room For
Granddaddy, so the writers developed an occasional subplot that
involved sister Ralph's attempts to win the affections of
"Hanky" Kimball or some other hapless Hooterville bachelor.
Alf later returns for Ralph's failed wedding to Kimball.
Melton (1917 - 2011) was an American actor best known for the roles
of incompetent carpenter Alf Monroe in Green Acres and as Uncle
Charlie Halper, proprietor of the Copa Club, in The Danny Thomas Show
and its spin-offs. He appeared in about 140 film and television
projects in a career that spanned nearly 60 years. Among his most
famous films were Lost Continent with Cesar Romero, The Steel Helmet
with Gene Evans and Robert Hutton, The Lemon Drop Kid with Bob Hope,
and Lady Sings The Blues with Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. He
appeared in flashback on several episodes of The Golden Girls as
Salvadore Petrillo, the long-dead husband of Sophia (Estelle Getty)
and father of Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur).
Melton made his stage debut in a 1939
touring production of See My Lawyer. Sid's brother Lewis was a
screenplay writer in Hollywood which led to Sid being cast as Fingers
in Shadow of the Thin Man. During World War II, Melton entertained
American soldiers overseas. Sid met screenwriter Aubrey Wisberg, who
arranged for him to have a part in his Treasure of Monte Cristo
(1949). This was his first film with Lippert Pictures. The studio
churned out low-budget films, most of them made in less than a week,
and Melton was the comic relief in dozens of them, including Mask of
the Dragon and Lost Continent. Other movies included On the Town, The
Geisha Boy, The Tunnel of Love, and Blondie Goes to College.
In the late 1950s, he played several small
roles in the popular Desilu show The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and was
Captain Midnight's sidekick, Ichabod "Icky" Mudd
("That's Mudd, with two D's"). Other television credits
include Dragnet, The Silent Service, M Squad, Gomer Pyle, Adventures
of Superman, I Dream of Jeannie and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Grace Canfield (1924 - 2014) was born in Rochester, New York, the
second child of Hildegard and Hubert Canfield. She grew up in
Pittsford, New York. She had an elder sister, Constance, who was two
Acting mostly in small theatre companies
and regional theatre, between 1952 and 1964 she appeared in several
Broadway plays, although most ran for no more than a month. Her
Broadway credits include The Waltz of the Toreadors and The Frogs of Spring.
Canfield's first credited performance on
television was in March 1954, when she portrayed Frances in the
episode "Native Dancer" on Goodyear Playhouse. After making
additional television appearances, she played a housekeeper, Amanda
Allison, in the ABC sitcom The Hathaways during the 1961-62 season.
As Thelma Lou's "ugly" cousin in an episode of CBS's The
Andy Griffith Show, she had an arranged blind date with Gomer Pyle,
played by Jim Nabors. Her name on that episode was her actual name,
Mary Grace. The episode was originally scheduled to air on November
25th, 1963 but it was preempted by the coverage of the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy three days earlier.
Canfield was best known for her recurring
role on Green Acres as Ralph Monroe, the all-thumbs carpenter who
greeted her fellow Hootervillians with her signature "Howdy
Doody!" She appeared in more than 40 episodes of the show during
its six-season run from 1965 to 1971. She reprised the role in the
1990 TV movie Return to Green Acres. Recalling the Ralph character in
a 2006 interview, she stated, "To be remembered for Ralph kind
of upsets me, only in the sense that it was so easy and
undemanding." She added, "It's being known for something
easy to do instead of something you worked hard to achieve."
Canfield also guest starred on the NBC
medical drama The Eleventh Hour. In 1966, she played Abner Kravitz's
sister, Harriet, on four episodes of Bewitched. Actress Alice Pearce,
who played Abner's wife, Gladys Kravitz, had died from ovarian
cancer, and her successor as Mrs. Kravitz (Sandra Gould) had yet to
be hired. During the early 1970s, Canfield and actress Lucille Wall
shared the role of Lucille March on General Hospital. Canfield
appeared in such feature films as Pollyanna, The St. Valentine's Day
Massacre and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
A goodnatured parody of regional
government bureaucrats and civil service employees, Alvy Moore plays
spacey county agricultural agent Hank Kimball, who draws folks into
inane conversations and often loses his train of thought. The series
was reportedly one of the first pre-recorded sitcoms to use cue cards
extensively during filming, and Moore later recounted that he found
them invaluable when performing Kimball's convoluted rambling,
"As you all know,
I'm your County Kimball, Hank Agent.
No, I don't believe I
am. I'm, eh Hank Kimball, your County Agent.
Yes, that sounds better.
Well, not better..."
Alvin "Alvy" Moore (1921 - 1997) was an American actor
best known for his role as scatterbrained county agricultural agent
Hank Kimball on Green Acres. His character would often make a
statement, only to immediately negate the statement himself and then
negate the corrected statement until his stream of statements was
interrupted by a frustrated Oliver Wendell Douglas portrayed by Eddie
Albert. Moore appeared in 140 of the 170 total Green Acres episodes.
Moore was born in Vincennes, Indiana, but
the family moved to Terre Haute, where his father was a grocery store
manager. Moore was president of the senior class at Wiley High School
in 194041. He then attended Indiana State Teachers College,
both before and after service with the United States Marine Corps
during World War II, in which he saw combat in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
He became an actor and furthered his
training at the Pasadena Playhouse, succeeding David Wayne in the
role of Ensign Pulver opposite Henry Fonda's Mister Roberts on
Broadway, and later toured with the play for 14 months. He made his
screen debut playing the quartermaster in Okinawa (1952).
Moore appeared in guest and supporting
roles in a number of movies and television shows, including My Little
Margie in 1952, as Dillard Crumbly, an efficiency expert fresh out of
Efficiency College, and The Mickey Mouse Club, where he hosted
"What I Want to Be" segments as the Roving Reporter. He had
a small role as a member of Marlon Brando's motorcycle gang in the
1953 film The Wild One, and a similar bit part the same year as one
of the Linda Rosa townspeople in The War of the Worlds. Moore
co-starred with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds in the 1954 film
Susan Slept Here, in which he displayed his natural gift for physical
comedy. In 1955 he co-starred with Brian Keith and Kim Novak in 5
Against the House. In the early 1960s he was cast in the recurring
role of Howie on the CBS sitcom Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan
and Cara Williams.
In 1962 Moore was cast as the Scottish
botanist David Douglas, for whom the Douglas fir tree is named, in an
episode of the western anthology series Death Valley Days with Keenan
Wynn and Iron Eyes Cody.
Moore TV credits include Perry Mason, The
Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show, Little House
on the Prairie, How the West Was Won and Frasier. In the 1980s Moore
appeared in many cult horror films, including Scream (1981), Mortuary
(1983), They're Playing With Fire (1984), Intruder (1989), and The
Horror Show (1989).
Moore met his wife Carolyn in 1947 while
both were actors with the Pasadena Playhouse. They married in 1950
and were married 47 years. They had three children: Janet, Alyson,
and Barry. Carolyn continued to be involved in acting, doing dinner
theater and various church productions. For over 50 years she was a
member of Beta Sigma Phi, a women's sorority group that raises money
for charity. In 2008 she received the "International Award of
Distinction," the highest honor the organization bestows on
active members. She also was a member and treasurer of the
"Motion Picture Mothers" for over 30 years. Moore died of
heart failure in 1997 at age 75. Carolyn Moore died at age 79 in 2009.
Storekeeper Sam Drucker (Frank Cady) is a
regular character in both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. The
first bar of the Petticoat Junction theme song is usually played
during the establishing shot of his store.
Drucker also serves as a newspaper editor
and printer, volunteer fireman with the Hooterville Volunteer Fire
Department, notary, constable, justice of the peace, and postmaster.
As editor of the Hooterville World Guardian, his headlines are often
Drucker is often the only character who is
inspired by Oliver's rural patriotism. He filters Oliver's idealism
to the townsfolk and, conversely, filters the plebeian backwoods
notions of the community back to Oliver.
Cady (1915 - 2012) was best known for playing storekeeper Sam
Drucker, a role he reprised in Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and
The Beverly Hillbillies. He was also known for an earlier role as Doc
Williams on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Cady was born in Susanville, California,
the youngest of three children of Leon and Clara Cady. In high
school, he worked at a local newspaper, The Lassen County Advocate.
Cady's family later moved to Wilsonville, Oregon.
He studied journalism and drama at
Stanford University, where he was involved with the campus humor
magazine, the Stanford Chaparral. Following college graduation, Cady
served an apprenticeship at the Westminster Theater in London,
appearing in four plays. In England, he made an early television
appearance on the BBC in late 1938.
He returned to Stanford in 1939 for
graduate studies and a position as a teaching assistant. While at
Stanford, Cady met and later married his wife, Shirley Katherine
Jones, in 1940. Born in Oakland, California, Shirley Cady, a Stanford
graduate, had several vocations professional singer, teacher,
and legal secretary.
Dissatisfied with academia, Frank began a
series of jobs two years later, as an announcer and news broadcaster
at various California radio stations. His career was put on hold in
1943 when he joined the United States Army Air Corps, serving in
England, France, and Germany during World War II.
being discharged from military service in 1946, Cady appeared in a
series of plays in the Los Angeles area that led to movie roles,
including uncredited roles in D.O.A. (1949) and Father of the Bride
(1950). He had a small part in the noir classic The Asphalt Jungle
(1950) and appeared in When Worlds Collide (above 1951). Other film
roles were Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951), Rear Window (1954)
and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). He played the husband of Eileen
Heckart characters in two films: The Bad Seed (1956) and Zandy's
Cady did some radio programs early in his
career including Gunsmoke. He appeared on the Make Room For Daddy
episode that was the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show and played Doc
Williams in Ozzie and Harriet (1953-1964). In 1961, he made a guest
appearance on Perry Mason as twin brothers Joe and Hiram Widlock in
"The Case of the Pathetic Patient". He was the only actor
to play a recurring character on three television sitcoms at the same
time, which he did from 1968 to 1969, appearing on The Beverly
Hillbillies (10 episodes), Green Acres (142 episodes), and Petticoat
Junction (152 episodes). Also as Sam Drucker, he was one of only
three co-stars of Petticoat Junction who stayed with the series for
its entire seven-year run (19631970), along with Edgar Buchanan
and Linda Henning.
Cady loved to write humorous poems,
limericks, and parodies of songs. He also loved playing golf with
friends, as well as traveling; he enjoyed many years of hiking in
Switzerland. Cady and his wife Shirley were married 68 years, had two
children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Shirley
died in 2008, at the age of 91. Frank died in 2012 at age 96.
Eunice Douglas (Eleanor Audley) is
Oliver's mother, who seems to side with her daughter-in-law far more
than her son. She is aghast at the prospect of Oliver and Lisa moving
to Hooterville and often tries to convince Lisa to come back to New
York City with her (or as she puts it, "Come back to
America") and escape the primitive life of the farm. Eunice is a
recurring character on the first four seasons of the show.
Audley also played a recurring character
on The Beverly Hillbillies as Millicent Schuyler-Potts, headmistress
of the Potts School where Jethro attends the third grade. She is also
known for her voice work in classic animated Disney films. She played
Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother in Cinderella (1950), and the
dastardly fairy Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (1959).
The folks from Petticoat Junction
Shady Rest Hotel owner Kate Bradley
appears in a few early episodes. She tries to help Lisa adapt to
country living, most notably giving her the recipe for her hotcakes,
which Lisa ends up botching, resulting in Lisa's infamous
"hotscakes". Uncle Joe Carson (who soon develops a romantic
interest in Oliver's mother) is seen at times playing checkers,
loafing or mooching fruit at Drucker's Store with Petticoat Junction
regulars Newt Kiley and train conductor Floyd Smoot. Betty Jo Bradley
appears in one episode as Eb Dawson's date. Her sister Bobbie Jo
appears in the same episode. Blonde-haired Billie Jo is the only
Bradley sister never to appear in Green Acres. Western film actor
Smiley Burnette guest-stars several times as railway engineer Charley
Pratt in 1965 and 1966. Burnette and Pat Buttram (Mr. Haney) were
both comic sidekicks of singing cowboy Gene Autry in his '50s Westerns.
Crossovers with The
In the March 1967 episode "The
Beverly Hillbillies" (season 2, episode 23), the Hooterville
theater puts on a play in homage to "famous television show"
The Beverly Hillbillies. Oliver plays Jethro opposite Lisa as Granny Clampett.
Starting in 1968, The Beverly Hillbillies
aired episodes with the Clampetts in Hooterville visiting distant
cousins the Bradley family. This brought the world of all three shows
into the same reality. "The Thanksgiving Story" includes a
split-second insert of Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor at the dinner table
with the casts of all three series. There is a sub-plot with Eb
Dawson falling in love with Elly May Clampett that continues in the
following episode "The Courtship of Homer Noodleman". The
Clampetts return to the Shady Rest Hotel in "Christmas in
Hooterville" with Eb still fawning over a reluctant Elly May.
During its six-season run, many familiar
actors guest-starred on the show, along with other lesser-known
performers who later achieved stardom, among them: John Daly, Elaine
Joyce, Gary Dubin, Herbert Anderson, June Foray, Bob Cummings, Sam
Edwards, Jerry Van Dyke, J. Pat O'Malley, Johnny Whitaker, Jesse
White, Al Lewis, Gordon Jump, Bernie Kopell, Len Lesser, Bob
Hastings, Don Keefer, Don Porter, Alan Hale, Melody Patterson, Rusty
Hamer, Regis Toomey, Heather North, Allan Melvin, Parley Baer, Jack
Bannon, Reginald Gardiner and Rick Lenz.
Al Molinaro and Pat Morita guest-starred
on separate episodes, while Rich Little made a cameo appearance as himself.
The Rural Purge
Acres received solid ratings during its six-year run. In
19701971, during the series' sixth season, Green Acres placed
34th out of 96 shows. Despite the respectable ratings and winning its
timeslot, the network cancelled the show in the spring of 1971 after
170 episodes, part of the "rural purge" by CBS.
CBS at the time was under mounting
pressure from sponsors to have more urban-themed programs on its
schedule. To make room for the newer shows, nearly all of the rural-themed
shows were cancelled, later known as the "rural purge," of
which Pat Buttram said, "CBS cancelled everything with a tree
There was no series finale. The final two
episodes of Green Acres were backdoor pilots for Pam and Carol, two
shows that no network ever picked-up.
Starting with The Real McCoys in 1957 on
ABC, U.S. television had undergone a "rural revolution", a
shift towards situation comedies featuring "naive but noble
'rubes' from deep in the American heartland". CBS was the
network most associated with the trend, with series such as The Andy
Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mister Ed,
Lassie, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw. CBS aired so many of these
rural-themed shows, many produced by Filmways, that it gained the
nickname the "Country Broadcasting System". Another
nickname was the "Hillbilly Network", a play on the
network's original self-proclaimed nickname of "The Tiffany Network".
By 1966, industry executives were
lamenting the lack of diversity in American television offerings and
the dominance of rural-oriented programming on the Big Three
television networks of the era, noting that ratings indicate that the
American public prefer hillbillies, cowboys, and spies. CBS vice
president Michael Dann personally hated the rural-oriented
programming he was airing, but kept the shows on the air because of
their strong overall ratings and CBS president James T. Aubrey
believed rural sitcoms were a crucial part of the network's formula
the late 1960s many viewers, especially young ones, were rejecting
rural-themed shows as irrelevant to modern times. Mayberry's total
isolation from contemporary problems was part of its appeal, but more
than a decade of media coverage of the civil rights movement had
brought about a change in the popular image of the small Southern
town. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., was set on a U.S. Marine base between
1964 and 1969, but neither Gomer nor any of his fellow marines ever
mentioned the war in Vietnam. CBS executives, afraid of losing the
lucrative youth demographic, purged their schedule of hit shows that
were drawing huge but older-skewing audiences.
The wave of cancellations was instigated
by new CBS president Robert Wood begining in 1969, who replaced
longtime CBS programming head Michael Dann with Fred Silverman,
following research highlighting the greater attraction to advertisers
of the young adult urban viewer demographic. Much of CBS's existing
product either drew audiences that were too old and rural, or drew
another undesirable demographic: young boys, who lacked disposable
income of their own. Another factor in the changeover was the loss of
one half-hour of prime programming time each night as a result of the
Prime Time Access Rule, which took effect in 1971; as a result of the
new rule, the networks (all of which had previously started prime
time at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time) had to trim the equivalent of seven
half-hour programs from their weekly schedules and return control of
these slots to the local stations.
The first rural-themed show canceled by
Silverman (above) was Petticoat Junction in 1970. The following fall,
The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered, and All in the Family premiered
in January 1971 as a midseason replacement. Both shows provided the
urban demographic, cutting-edge social relevance, and ratings that
CBS was looking for. These early successes prompted Silverman and the
network to cancel Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry
R.F.D., Hee Haw, and The Jim Nabors Hour at the end of the
197071 season, as well as cut short The New Andy Griffith Show,
a comeback vehicle for Andy Griffith, after only ten episodes. (The
New Andy Griffith Show was a last-minute replacement for Headmaster,
Griffith's unsuccessful effort to reach a more refined, urban
audience; Headmaster was canceled after only 14 episodes.) Another
series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, lasted until the end of the
197172 season. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was the first of the
rural-based shows to leave the air (1969), but was not part of the
"purge" but to Jim Nabors's desire to move to something
else. He was given a new show, The Jim Nabors Hour, as a replacement
for the next season but was canceled in 1971.
ABC-TV also was looking for younger
audiences, and in May 1971 canceled shows that skewed toward rural
viewers (such as The Johnny Cash Show, which had ranked 17th in the
ratings) or older viewers (Make Room for Granddaddy and The Lawrence
Welk Show). NBC-TV also targeted rural and older oriented programs in
its cuts, eliminating long-running programs such as Wild Kingdom, The
Andy Williams Show, and The Virginian.
Life After The Purge
Welk's program, a mainstay of television since the summer of 1955,
immediately moved to first-run syndication, where it ran an
additional 11 years before Welk's retirement in 1982. Reruns of the
show began almost immediately.
Wild Kingdom, Lassie, and Hee Haw also
continued in first-run syndication after their cancellations in 1971.
Lassie ran until 1973, while Hee Haw had even greater success,
lasting until 1991. Wild Kingdom primarily aired reruns, but
continued to produce occasional new episodes in syndication through
1987. Both Andy Williams and Johnny Cash returned with short-lived
revivals of their shows in 1976 and continued to produce annual
specials into the 1980s.
The Red Skelton Show, which had finished
the 196970 season as the number 7 show moved back to NBC (in a
half hour format) after it's cancellation by CBS. The program had
originated on NBC in 1951 and ran to 1953 when it moved to CBS. The
new format didn't work with viewers and the program ended in March 1971,
Petticoat Junction was already in decline,
due in part to shifting tastes and to the death of star Bea Benaderet
in 1968, by the time it was canceled in 1970.
The success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show,
All in the Family, and newer, more urban variety shows such as The
Carol Burnett Show in 1967 and The Flip Wilson Show in 1970, allowed
cancellations of most of the "undesired shows" at the end
of 1971, despite their high ratings and popularity. Both Green Acres
and The Beverly Hillbillies had dropped from the Nielsen top 30 by
the 197071 season, yet both shows continued to win their
respective time slots and had a loyal following, warranting renewal
for another season. Other shows still pulling in even higher ratings
when canceled included Mayberry R.F.D., which finished the season at
number 15, Hee Haw at number 16, and The Jim Nabors Hour at number 29.
Series such as ABC's The Brady Bunch and
The Partridge Family were never truly ratings hits, but both appealed
to a younger demographic and were renewed for three more seasons.
Fred Silverman replaced much of the
canceled programming in 1971 and 1972 with "relevant" fare
including the All in the Family spinoffs Maude and The Jeffersons.
Following the success of The Mary Tyler
Moore Show, the series' production company MTM Productions
(established in 1969 by Mary Tyler Moore and her then-husband Grant
Tinker) would develop other popular shows including: The Bob Newhart
Show (1972 - 1978), Rhoda (19741978), WKRP in Cincinnati
(19781982), Newhart (19821990), Lou Grant (19771982)
and The White Shadow (19781981). M*A*S*H was added to the
network in 1972.
surviving members of Green Acres (except for Eleanor Audley, who had
retired from acting 20 years earlier) were reunited for a TV movie
titled Return to Green Acres. It aired on CBS on May 18th, 1990 and
was set two decades after the series had ended. Oliver and Lisa have
moved back to New York but are miserable there.
The Hootervillians implore the couple to
return and save the town from a scheme to destroy it, cooked up
between Mr. Haney and a wealthy, underhanded developer (Henry Gibson).
The Monroe brothers still have not
finished the Douglases' bedroom, while a 20-something Arnold survived
his "parents" and subsequently bunks with his
"cousin", the Ziffels' comely niece. With a nod to the
times, Haney's latest product is a Russian miracle fertilizer called
Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor whould play
their Green Acres characters again for the 1993 CBS special The
Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies. The retrospective special was the
final appearances of several Paul Henning characters, as portrayed by
the actors who originated the roles: Jethro Bodine (Max Baer, Jr.),
Cousin Roy (Roy Clark), Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), Donna Douglas
(Ely May Clampett), Sonny Drysdale (Louis Nye) and Dash Riprock
(Larry Pennell). The Beverly Hillbillies special was a rare tribute
from CBS, which owed much of its success in the 1960s to that series
and it rural cousins, but has often seemed embarrassed by it in
hindsight, often downplaying the show in retrospective television
specials on the network's history and rarely inviting cast members to
participate in such all-star broadcasts.
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