- Uncle Joe
- The Bradley Girls
For animal lovers, the real star of the show was Champ, a dog originally found at the dog pound, who lived at the Shady Rest and ran after the train during the credits of the show each week. His offspring would one-day star in the Benji movies (at least 4 films so far).
Kate has been the head of the Bradley household ever since her husband passed away. She raises her three beautiful, fully grown daughters and watches over a relative named Uncle Joe at the Shady Rest Hotel, which she owns and operates--and which is in walking distance from the Hooterville train station.
Kate is probably more concerned with seeing her daughters get married than looking for a new husband for herself. Yet she certainly has plenty of opportunities to meet almost any man who is passing through town, since her hotel is the only place in Hooterville to get a room for the night. Kate not only cleans the rooms and makes the beds; she also prepares delicious and fattening meals for all her guests, who often dine with the Bradley family. Although she is a wise and resourceful woman, she is not immune to occasionally being unnerved by the peculiar characters who tend to populate her provincial farming community.
Born in New York City on April 4, 1906, Bea Benaderet's distinctive voice helped set the tone for dozens of films, cartoons, radio and TV series for more than three decades. Starting in the 1930s, she was one of the busiest actresses in radio's golden age, right up to the Stan Freberg Show (the last CBS comedy on radio). In hundreds of comedy and drama broadcasts, she played everything from housemaids to detectives' sidekicks, from demure Polynesian teenagers to wacky, loudmouthed telephone operators (her most popular recurring character on the Jack Benny Program). Beginning at the time of World War II, Benaderet provided voices for a decade of Warner Bros cartoons. In the late 1940s, she did doubleduty on radio sitcoms, playing the maid on "Ozzie and Harriet," starring as Gracie Allen's best friend Blanche on "The Burns and Allen Show" and as Lucille Ball's best friend on "My Favorite Husband."
When "My Favorite Husband" later evolved into the TV series I Love Lucy, Desilu Studios wanted Benaderet and Gale Gordon to reprise their roles as the couple next door, but both were involved in other TV series; Benaderet continued in her role of Blanche on the TV version of "The Burns and Allen Show" and, later, on The George Burns Show, until 1959. She also performed numerous comic roles on Jack Benny's radio and TV series during the 1940s and 1950s.
In the summer of 1950, Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon starred in the radio series "Granby's Green Acres," created by Jay Sommers. Gordon played a banker who gave up city life and dragged his wife (Benaderet) into the country to run a farm. When "Green Acres" came to television in the 1960s (with a different cast), it took place in the same town as Benaderet's "Petticoat Junction," and characters occasionally crossed over between the two series.
From 1960 to 1964, she was the voice of prehistoric housewife Betty Rubble on The Flintstones. During that show's first season, she also appeared in the live-action sitcom "Peter Loves Mary," in which she played the housekeeper of a comfy show-biz couple.
Just before the 1963 debut of "Petticoat Junction," where she played the matronly role of Kate Bradley, Benaderet played a recurring role on another CBS rural sitcom: Cousin Pearl Bodine (Jethro's mother) on the first season of The Beverly Hillbillies. When Petticoat Junction was picked up, her character in Beverly Hillbillies decided to stay home rather than move to Beverly Hills with the Clampetts.
Benaderet's film career was less prolific than her broadcast work, but included such well-known features as Hitchcock's "Notorious" (1946), "On the Town" (1949) and "Tender Is the Night" (1962). She died of lung cancer on October 13, 1968, during the run of "Petticoat Junction." Ever the reliable trouper, Benaderet worked right up to the end. Her character was replaced by June Lockhart as the new town doctor.
Uncle Joe Carson
Joe is Hooterville's fire chief, but spends most of his time sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch of the Shady Rest Hotel. Although he is ostensibly the manager of the hotel, whenever there is work to be done he fakes having an attack of lumbago--which prohibits him from exerting any physical strength. This lazy, overweight man of advanced years has a raspy voice and is prone to spells of cantankerousness, although he has an easygoing manner which makes many folks find him adorable. He also possesses a childish naivete and a simpleton's sense of paranoia. To this day, he firmly believes that the Shady Rest is haunted by the ghost of Chester W. Farnsworth, a hotel guest from many decades ago. Uncle Joe and three other locals sing in their own firehouse quartet (loosely based on the Jolly Boys of radio's "Great Gildersleeve").
Edgar Buchanan was born in Humansville, Missouri, on March 20, 1903. A former dentist, he made nearly 100 movies, primarily westerns, starting in 1940.
In the early 1950s, he starred as Hoppy's sidekick, Red Connors, on the hit western TV series, Hopalong Cassidy. Sticking with his cowboy/western image, he also starred as the title character in the fact-based series, "Judge Roy Bean" (1956). His character was touted as "the law west of the Pecos." In 1960, he starred in "The Chartroose Caboose" as a retired railroad man living in an abandoned caboose which is suddenly repossessed by a new owner. This movie may have inspired both his role on Petticoat Junction and that of the mean Mr. Bedlo (played by Charles Lane), who wants to take away the Cannonball.
Buchanan starred as slow-moving Uncle Joe on "Petticoat Junction" from 1963 to 1970. Thereafter, he moved quickly into the role of Senior Deputy J.J. Jackson on the police drama series "Cade's County," starring Glenn Ford. Buchanan's final film appearance was back with a little dog in "Benji" (1974). He died on April 4,1979.
The Bradley Daughters
Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo are the imaginatively named daughters of Kate Bradley. They live and perform chores at the Shady Rest Hotel in Hooterville. During the summer months, they enjoy taking off their petticoats and going for a dip in the water tank which fuels the local train with only one passenger car, the Cannonball. Because of this activity, this re-fueling stop acquired the name Petticoat Junction.
The three lovely girls have also distinguished themselves from one another in various ways. Billie Jo, the eldest, attended class at Pixley Secretarial School and became the secretary to Oliver Fenton, an author whose books have been banned locally. Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo attended Hooterville High School, where they once formed a singing group called the Lady Bugs. Betty Jo found and rescued the family dog, a mutt called Boy (press releases refer to him only as the "Shady Rest Dog"). She eventually married pilot Steve Elliott, whom she nursed back to health after he crashed his crop duster upon being distracted by three girls swimming in the Hooterville water tank.
Yet the most important distinguishing factor among each of the Bradley daughters is their hair color. Billie Jo is a blonde, Bobbie Jo is a brunette and Betty Jo is a redhead. Since they never appear to question this curiosity from a genetic point of view, it is not unreasonable to assume that they decided amongst themselves to dye their hair different colors in order for people to know one Bradley daughter from another. Considering that their personalities are identically bland, this theory certainly carries some weight (curiously, like Charlie's Angels, it was usually the brunette who came up with plans of attack, dare we say "the smart one"). No less than six people eventually played the three daughters.
Linda's father, Paul Henning, was the producer of "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres." She originally used just her first and middle names when acting on the show, but later used her full name: Linda Kaye Henning. Linda was the only actress to play a Bradley daughter (she played Betty Jo) for the entire run of the series (1963-1970). In 1981, she appeared in the TV movie, "The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies."
Being the first Billie Jo Bradley on "Petticoat Junction" from 1963 to 1965 was Riley's first major break. She made her big-screen debut in 1967, as Bambi Berman in the Jerry Lewis comedy, "The Big Mouth."
Jeannine was a "Hee Haw Girl" on the country-western comedy/variety series "Hee Haw," from 1969 to 1971. Two years later, she was back on TV in the syndicated sitcom "Dusty's Trail"--a Bob Denver-starring, Gilligan's Island-wannabe about the inhabitants of a wagon train that got lost while crossing the Old West. Riley played Lulu, an aspiring showgirl.
Her other film appearances have included "The Comic" (1969) and "Electra Glide in Blue" (1973). More recently, she appeared as the landlady in "Timebomb" (1992).
After a brief stint on "Petticoat Junction" from 1965 to 1966 (as the second of three Billie Jos), Gunilla Hutton spent 22 years as a regular on "Hee Haw" (1969-1991).
The daughter of entertainers Gordon and Sheila MacRae, Meredith MacRae came to "Petticoat Junction" in 1966 to play the third and final version of the character Billie Jo Bradley. She was fresh from a two-year run on "My Three Sons," having joined the cast of that show in 1963 as Sally Ann Morrison, the girlfriend (later wife) of Mike Douglas (Tim Considine). When the series moved to CBS, Mike and Sally were written out and replaced by adopted son Ernie. Yet during her stint as Sally, MacRae made her film debut in "Bikini Beach" (1964), followed in 1966 by "Footsteps in the Snow."
In 1971, Meredith and her sister Heather appeared regularly on "The Sheila MacRae Show," a half-hour talkfest hosted by their mother. In the same year she was a recurring panelist on "Mantrap," a battle-of-the-sexes discussion show. Her 1970s film work included "My Friends Need Killing" (1976) and a starring role in "Grand Jury" (1977).
MacRae played a supporting role in the science fiction flop, "Earthbound" (1981). She was a traveling "reporter" for the NBC game show "Fantasy" (1982-1983), wherein she and Chris Lemmon surprised winners with gifts that let them live out a lifelong fantasy. In 1984, she appeared as herself in the TV movie "The Calendar Girl Murders" (a.k.a. Insatiable, a.k.a. Victimized).
Her 1990s work has included a guest appearance as the voice of Francine Langstrom on Batman: The Animated Series (1992).
Pat played the original incarnation of Bobbie Jo Bradley on "Petticoat Junction" from 1963 to 1965. Like several other "Bradley girls" from that series, Woodell went on to become a regular on the country-western variety show, "Hee Haw." In the early 1970s, she appeared in a series of low-budget exploitation flicks shot in the Philippines, including "The Big Doll House" (a.k.a. Women's Penitentiary I), "Twilight People" (a.k.a. Beasts), and "Woman Hunt."
During her run as the second and final Bobbie Jo Bradley on "Petticoat Junction" (from 1965 to 1970), Saunders also appeared in the 1966 ultra-cheapie horror film "Blood Bath" (a.k.a. Track of the Vampire). Like another Petticoat alumna, Jeannine Riley, Saunders was a regular on the 1973 Bob Denver western sitcom, "Dusty's Trail," where Saunders played Betsy, an aspiring schoolmarm. In the same year, she performed in the film "Frasier, the Sensuous Lion."
Frank Cady (Sam Drucker)
Born in Susanville, California (just north of the real Pixley, CA) on September 8, 1915, this actor is best remembered for playing the kind and helpful general store owner, Sam Drucker, on three 1960s Paul Henning TV series: "Petticoat Junction," "Green Acres," and "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Frank graduated from Stanford University, where he studied speech and drama, and when he first arrived in Hollywood, he taught announcing at the Don Martin School. He recently credited veteran film and television actor Fred Clark (best known to TV Land fans as the third Harry Morton on "The Burns and Allen Show") for helping him launch his successful show business career. When Clark and Cady met at Stanford, Clark arranged to have Cady cast in several plays in Los Angeles, including "The Square Needle" at the Las Palmas Theater in Hollywood. It was at a performance of this production that Ozzie and Harriet Nelson discovered Cady and offered him the role of Doc Williams, which he played on their TV program for the eleven years that directly preceded his tenure as Sam Drucker.
During Cady's 1954-1970 tenure as a TV Land regular, he had his share of guest appearances on other classic shows, including The Danny Thomas Show, "Perry Mason," Dennis the Menace, "Maverick," "The Real McCoys," The Andy Griffith Show (where he originated the role of the town drunk in the pilot episode), Gunsmoke, and "Hawaii Five-O." One can also catch Frank at work in a trio of legendary film classics: John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle," Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window," and Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" (a.k.a. "The Big Carnival").
Mike Minor (real-life husband of Linda Kaye Henning)
Mike played Steve in Petticoat Junction and guest-starred in the related sitcoms as the same character. When the network cancelled Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith Show-spinoff Mayberry RFD, and other rural-humor sitcoms ("everything with a tree in it," was Andy Griffith's comment), Mike Minor left television. A rumor spread that he had died of AIDS in 1987, but he simply prefers live theater these days. In October, 1999, he was starring in "Perfect Crime" at the Duffy Theater in New York according to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Wild Wild West (and the Cannonball train bio)