Petticoat Junction


Petticoat Junction Information

Petticoat Junction is an American situation comedy produced by Filmways that originally aired on CBS from September 1963 to April 1970. The series is one of three interrelated shows about rural characters created by Paul Henning. Petticoat Junction was created upon the success of Henning's previous rural/urban-themed sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962"1971). The success of Petticoat Junction led to a spin-off, Green Acres (1965"1971).

The setting for the series is The Shady Rest Hotel, just outside the farming town of Hooterville (later the location of Green Acres). The hotel is situated on the train line of the C. & F.W. Railroad, halfway between the towns of Pixley and Hooterville, each away. The characters "seem" to go to Hooterville for some goods and services, including high school and the hospital, but prefer Pixley for supermarket shopping, beauty parlors, and movies.

The petticoat of the title is an old-fashioned garment once worn under a woman's skirt. The opening titles of the series featured a display of petticoats hanging on the side of the hotel's water tower where the three originally teenage daughters are apparently bathing in the nude or skinny-dipping. In fact, the show's opening theme contains a hint of sexual innuendo in the line, "Lotsa curves, you bet, and even more when you get to the Junction." This is an obvious double entendre to both the train tracks and the Bradley daughters. As Linda Kay states on the official season one DVD set, there was never an intended connection to the restaurant chain "Hooters", or the anatomical attributes (breasts) to which it now refers, as that phrase was unheard of in the 1960s.

Background

The idea for Petticoat Junction came from Paul Henning's wife. She used to tell him stories of her childhood adventures when she was visiting the Burris Hotel, owned by her family, in Eldon, Missouri. These stories became the basis of the show.

Show history

During pre-production, proposed titles were Ozark Widow, Dern Tootin' and Whistle Stop. Set in the rural town of Hooterville, the show followed the goings-on at The Shady Rest Hotel, of which Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet) was the proprietor. Her lazy Uncle Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan), who was the great uncle to Kate's three daughters, helped her in the day-to-day running of the business while she served as a mediator in the various minor crises that befell her daughters Betty Jo (redhead), Bobbie Jo (brunette), and Billie Jo (blonde). The actresses portraying Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo changed over the years, whereas Betty Jo was portrayed by the same actress for the entire run.

The character of handsome crop duster Steve Elliott (Mike Minor) was added to the show in early season four, who is thought by Uncle Joe to be a spy. He's originally the love interest for eldest daughter Billie Jo; a season later, however, Steve suddenly married Betty Jo. This was a result of the real-life relationship that had developed between Kaye and Minor. After Steve and Betty Jo married, they set up housekeeping in a cottage near the tracks between Hooterville and Pixley. A baby was added the following season. They moved back to the Shady Rest Hotel in the final year of production.

Much of the original focus of the show was on the Hooterville Cannonball, a steam-driven train (serviced by the above-mentioned water tower) run more like a taxi service by its engineer, Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette), and its conductor, Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis). It was not uncommon for the Cannonball to make an unscheduled stop in order to go fishing or pick fruit for Kate Bradley's menu at The Shady Rest Hotel. Occasionally, Betty Jo Bradley could be found with her hand on the Cannonball's throttle, as running the train home from trips into town was one of her favorite pastimes. Those trips usually consisted of a stop at "Drucker's Store", run by Sam Drucker (Frank Cady). Drucker's Store is mentioned as a favorite of Hooterville farmers because he would give credit, while the Pixley stores wanted cash.

The town of Pixley, at one end of the Cannonball's route, was named for Pixley, California. A number of location shots were filmed in the real Pixley. This train was operated on the Sierra Railroad, based in Jamestown, California. The steam locomotive used was 4-6-0 (ten-wheeler) #3, which has the distinction of appearing in more movies than any other locomotive. Its first sound film appearance was in 1929 with Gary Cooper in The Virginian, and it since has appeared in many other western films. It was used in some episodes of Little House on the Prairie and Iron Horse. A full-size "prop" locomotive used for scenes in the locomotive cab was said to have been furnished by: "Barbary Coast Hoyt Hotel", Portland, Oregon (data given at start of one of the shows, episode 147). The prop locomotive was displayed for many years in "The Hoyt Hotel" after the series ended.

Another character was the girls' canine companion, named simply "Dog". He was portrayed by "Higgins", who later went on to even greater fame as Benji.

Homer Bedloe, played by actor Charles Lane, was vice president of the C. & F.W. Railroad. Bedloe was a mean-spirited railroad executive who visited the Shady Rest Hotel periodically attempting to find justification for ending the train service of the Hooterville Cannonball, but never succeeding. In the series pilot, it was established that the branch line had become separated from the main part of the railroad several years earlier, but that nobody had ever bothered to do anything about it, so the crew just kept operating the Cannonball on the remaining section of track.

Cast changes

In 1967, the show suffered its first loss when Smiley Burnette, as engineer Charley Pratt, died of leukemia. Rufe Davis (as Floyd Smoot) took over both jobs as engineer and conductor for a while and then was replaced the following year by Wendell Gibbs, played by Byron Foulger. During the show's last season (1969"1970), Foulger became too ill to continue and Davis returned for the episode "Last Train To Pixley". Coincidentally, Foulger died on the same day the final episode of Petticoat Junction aired: April 4, 1970. Bea Benaderet, who played main character Kate, died in 1968; June Lockhart then joined the show as Dr. Janet Craig, a mother figure to the girls, from 1968 until the show's end in 1970.

Betty Jo was portrayed by Linda Kaye (the daughter of the show's creator) for the entire run. However, the actresses portraying her sisters changed over the years. Billie Jo was originally going to be played by Sharon Tate, however, CBS decided not to use her when she posed for some skimpy photos. She was replaced just before the show began, and Billie Jo was played for the first two years (1963"1965) by Jeannine Riley, who left to pursue a movie career; in season three (1965"1966) by Gunilla Hutton; and for the rest of the show (1966"1970) by Meredith MacRae. Bobbie Jo was played in the first two years (1963"1965) by Pat Woodell, who left the series to start a singing career, and then (1965"1970) by Lori Saunders. The only cast members who were in all seasons were Edgar Buchanan, Kaye and Frank Cady; Buchanan was the only one to appear in every episode.

Changes in tone

For the first three seasons, Petticoat Junction focused mostly on broad humor and slapstick comedy. These types of episodes proved to be very popular during the show's first three seasons, season one (ranked at #4), season two (ranked at #15), and season three (ranked at #21), all finished in the top twenty-five. There was much physical comedy and other types of wild humor that was characteristic of the series, much like its sister show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and its own later spin-off show Green Acres. There were many crossover appearances in season three alone between the casts of both shows. The Douglases (Lisa and Oliver) make frequent appearances on Petticoat Junction, and likewise Kate, Joe, Charley and Floyd, and even Betty Jo and Bobbie Jo show up on Green Acres.

But as the series progressed, beginning in season four with the addition of Mike Minor as Steve Elliot and Meredith MacRae as the third Billie Jo, the show took on an entirely different feel. Although singing had been in a small handful of the earlier episodes, most notably "The Ladybugs" and a few other episodes in which Bobbie Jo, then played by Pat Woodell, did a brief solo, musical numbers and singing became prominent from season four onward, and slapstick comedy took a back seat. Many numbers featured the girls singing as a trio, Billie Jo solo, Steve solo, or Steve and Betty Jo as a duet. There were sometimes as much as two or three songs per episode, and physical comedy was less emphasized. The show from this point on often switched gears going back and forth between domestic comedy (often focusing on the heartfelt romance between the newly married Steve and Betty Jo) with a lot of singing, and less intense slapstick comedy. The most notable exceptions in the later years from season six "Steve's New Job" and "The Great Race" and "The Tenant" and "Goodbye Mr. Chimp" from season seven had the feel of the earlier seasons with all out slapstick, nutty comedy, that was mostly absent during this later period.

Also the focus began to shift away from the Cannonball and the Railroad, and began to focus more than ever on the Bradley sisters, and their everyday lives. The changes in tone coincided with the changes in cast members, most notably the character of Billie Jo, who as previously played by Jeannine Riley and Gunilla Hutton, was mostly a boy crazy, ditz, or your stereotypical dumb blonde character. With Billie Jo now being played by Meredith MacRae, she was now portrayed as a strong single independent young lady with an aspiration for a singing career, which she later accomplishes. In addition, the character of Bobbie Jo, as originally played by Pat Woodell, was a book-smart girl (nicknamed "the walking encyclopedia"), in contrast to Lori Saunders's later portrayal, which was more of a bubble head used for comic relief. The stories also began to focus mostly on Steve and Betty Jo who were slowly, but surely, becoming the central characters.

Sickness kept Bea Benaderet away for the last portion of the sitcom's fifth season. She missed two episodes (ep. 159, 160), was back for one (ep. 161), then missed eight more after that before she finally returned for the last episode of the season (ep. 170). Storylines had her away on a trip, as everyone's hopes were that the actress would recover. Paul Henning brought in Rosemary DeCamp as Kate's sister Helen and Shirley Mitchell as Kate's cousin Mae, as a temporary replacement motherly figure. These actresses appeared mainly in the episodes during Kate's absence.

Benaderet returned for the sixth season but her return proved short-lived as she only made three appearances (ep. 171, 172, 173) before becoming ill again. In the fourth episode when Betty Jo gives birth to Kathy Jo, Bea provided only her voice. She's heard at the beginning when Betty Jo and Steve read the letter Kate has sent them and when Wendell answers the phone at "Drucker's Store" (she's on the other end). Bea's stand-in (actress Edna Laird) then plays Kate "full back" to the camera, with Bea again providing only her voice. She's heard when Kate is on the hand car helping Wendell and at the end when Kate is at Betty Jo's bedside. The episode aired 13 days after Benaderet's death (October 13, 1968) from lung cancer. Choosing not to recast the Kate role, or to sign Rosemary DeCamp on full-time (she was also playing Ann Marie's mother on That Girl), the producers introduced the new character of hotel resident Dr. Janet Craig, played by June Lockhart, as a counsel of sorts for the girls.

Though still beloved by fans, the central premise of a country family was lost without a motherly figure. The long absence of Kate was only mentioned in passing during the final season's premiere episode: In episode 197, the Bradley sisters, and baby Kathy Jo, return from dipping in the water tower. Steve has paternal qualms about his daughter's safety, to which Billie Jo/Bobbie Jo reply wistfully, "Mom taught us to swim in that very same water tower." The decline in ratings, which began when the show moved to Saturday night, continued. During the show's last three seasons (1967"1970), the sitcom failed to make the Nielsen top thirty.

As a result of Benaderet's death in 1968 and the void she left which the producers unsuccessfully tried to fill with Lockhart, CBS originally was going to cancel Petticoat Junction in the spring of 1969. By this time, the show was ranking in 35th place in the ratings, which was still respectable, but considerably lower than its sister shows. In the episode that was to be the last show of the series, Dr. Janet Craig (Lockhart) receives an offer for a better job opportunity in another city and decides to accept it. Although it is a more lucrative position, she, along with the other residents of The Shady Rest, are saddened at her leaving. However, at the end of the episode, Janet changes her mind and decides to stay on as resident doctor of the hotel when Steve and Betty Jo announce that they are going to have another baby. At the last minute, CBS decided to renew the series for the 1969"1970 season. The main reason for the renewal was that it would give the series five full years of color episodes when it would go into syndication, which would be very profitable for the network. When it returned for its seventh and final year in September 1969, there were two major plotline changes. The first was that Steve, Betty Jo, and their daughter Kathy Jo, moved out of their cottage and became residents of The Shady Rest Hotel. The storyline involving "the new addition" to their family was dropped and never referred to again. Another change was the addition of bumbling, but well-meaning, game warden Orrin Pike (played by actor Jonathan Daly), who was brought into the series as a love interest for Bobbie Jo, much to the annoyance of Uncle Joe. In the spring of 1970 as a precursor to the infamous CBS "rural purge", when all the other country-themed shows were axed the following season, Petticoat Junction was canceled despite the fact that its ratings had somewhat improved. On September 12, 1970, the series officially ended its prime-time run on Saturdays at 9:30 P.M and one week later, was replaced by The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Green Acres and Beverly Hillbillies crossover

Petticoat Junction was set in the same fictional universe as the rural television comedy Green Acres, also set in Hooterville. Both shows shared such characters as Sam Drucker, Newt Kiley, and Floyd Smoot. A number of core Green Acres characters, such as Fred and Doris Ziffel (originally Fred's wife was named Ruthie)), Arnold the Pig, Newt Kiley, and Ben Miller, first appeared on Petticoat Junction in the 1964"1965 season, which saw a number of scripts written by Green Acres creator Jay Sommers. Characters on all of Henning's creations sometimes "crossed over" into one another's programs, especially during the first two seasons of Green Acres. In a 1968 episode ("Granny, the Baby Expert"), Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies comes to Hooterville to tend to Betty Jo and Steve's baby. Granny looks at a picture of Kate and is astonished at her resemblance to Jed's cousin, Pearl Bodine (previously played by Benaderet), and prior to her visit to Hooterville, reminded Jed that he was related to Kate through Pearl. Other crossover shows include one where the Clampetts, Milburn Drysdale, and Miss Jane spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1968 in Hooterville on The Beverly Hillbillies and a 1970 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies in which Mr. Drysdale thought that billionaire Howard Hughes lived in Hooterville (the man turned out to be Howard Hewes, who owned Hooterville real estate, including the field Steve Elliot rented to maintain his crop plane.). A list of episodes featuring characters from Green Acres can be seen on this page.

Petticoat Junction was the only one of Henning's country trio not to be brought back for an updated reunion movie. The character of Sam Drucker, however, did appear in Return to Green Acres in 1990.

Cast of characters

Character Actress/Actor Years # of Episodes
Kate Bradley Bea Benaderet 1963"1968 164
Uncle Joe Carson Edgar Buchanan 1963"1970 222
Betty Jo Bradley Linda Kaye 1963"1970 221
Bobbie Jo Bradley Pat Woodell 1963"1965 70
Lori Saunders 1965"1970 147
Billie Jo Bradley Jeannine Riley 1963"1965 74
Gunilla Hutton 1965"1966 24
Meredith MacRae 1966"1970 107
Steve Elliott Mike Minor 1966"1970 112
Dr. Janet Craig June Lockhart 1968"1970 45
Charley Pratt Smiley Burnette 1963"1967 106
Floyd Smoot Rufe Davis 1963"1968; 1970 128
Sam Drucker Frank Cady 1963"1970 170
Homer Bedloe Charles Lane 1963"1968 24
Norman P. Curtis Roy Roberts 1963"1964
1966"1967
1969"1970
10
Fred Ziffel Hank Patterson 1963"1966 11
The Shady Rest Dog Higgins, the Dog 1964"1970 163
Newt Kiley Kay E. Kuter 1964"1969 17
Oliver Wendell Douglas Eddie Albert 1965"1968 12
Lisa Douglas Eva Gabor 1965"1969 9
Aunt Helen Rosemary DeCamp 1964"1968 7
Eb Dawson Tom Lester 1967"1968 6
Wendell Gibbs Byron Foulger 1965"1969 45
Orrin Pike Jonathan Daly 1969"1970 11
Cousin Mae Belle Jennings Shirley Mitchell 1967"1968 4
Miss Hammond Eve McVeagh 1963 3

Cancellation

Due to declining ratings on a weak Saturday night timeslot, CBS considered cancelling Petticoat Junction in the spring of 1969. During the 1968"1969 television season, the sitcom was ranking at #35 in the ratings. And although this was still respectable, the show's ratings could no longer compare to the success of its sister shows. Both The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres were in the Nielsen top twenty: Hillbillies at #10 and Acres at #19. Some sitcoms during this time stayed on the air for years with mild ratings: both I Dream of Jeannie (1965"1970) and That Girl (1966"1971) lasted for five seasons, however, both shows' ratings hardly ever broke the top thirty.

CBS renewed Petticoat Junction for the 1969"1970 season, reasoning that the network would have five years of color episodes to air of the sitcom in syndication, which would be very profitable for the network. However, in the spring of 1970, CBS cancelled Petticoat Junction as a forerunner to CBS's now famous "rural purge", despite the show's somewhat leap forward in the ratings. This part of television history saw the cancellation of Junction's sister shows: The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, along with other rural shows, including: Hee-Haw, Mayberry R.F.D., Lassie, The Jim Nabors Hour, etc. Some of the cancelled shows, however, were still bringing in high ratings, but were cancelled nevertheless and replaced with new urban shows.

Syndication

After its cancellation, Filmways and Paul Henning's company sold the show to CBS. Its distribution has changed hands over the years due to corporate changes involving Viacom, which in 2006 split into two separate companies. Today CBS Television Distribution handles syndication.

The Technicolor (1965"70) episodes were shown in syndication for many years after the show's cancellation. However, the rights to the black-and-white (1963"65) episodes were not resolved and they were not included in the syndication package until recently when the Me-TV Network began broadcasting the black-and-white (1963"65) episodes on Tuesday July 12, 2011. On Thursday July 21, 2011 the black-and-white episode airings were short lived and Me-TV started airing the color episodes once again.

The color episodes have run constantly, with the show running on TV Land from 1996 to 2000. The show ran on the Retro TV network from 2005 to 2008, and as of June 2012 is being shown on Me-TV. The program has run on three different Canadian cable channels: Prime-TV from 2000 to 2002, Deja-Vu from 2005 to 2008, and on TV Land Canada from 2006 to 2010. The black-and-white episodes from Season One are now in the public domain, their copyrights having lapsed. As a result, there have been numerous releases on discount DVDs of a group of these episodes (although with generic bluegrass-like theme music instead of the familiar opening and closing music, which is still under copyright).

DVD releases

The Paul Henning Estate holds the original film elements to the episodes in question, and in 2005 allowed 20 black-and-white episodes from Season One to be officially released on DVD in an "ultimate collection" via MPI Home Video. This release features the first 20 episodes of the series, excluding the Christmas episode. "Cannonball Christmas" was released by MPI Home Video in a separate release together with the Christmas-themed episode from The Beverly Hillbillies on October 25, 2005. This 1963 episode was reshot in color with small variations and aired on December 20, 1966 as "The Santa Claus Special."

On December 16, 2008, CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) released the Complete First Season on DVD, with new interviews with cast members, commercials from the original broadcasts, and the original opening and closing theme song. The Complete Second Season was released on July 7, 2009, concluding the black-and-white episodes of the series. (Beginning with the third season, the show switched to color for the remainder of the series.) It, too, contained the original theme song, as well as introductions and an interview from two cast members.

Although marketed as The Official ... Season, the backs of the boxes mention edits. On The Official First Season rear box, the studio mentions that some episodes are edited and that some music has been changed. These edits are similar to the changes made to the previously released "ultimate collection". These changes for DVD releases have caused sales to be lower than imagined. On The Official Second Season, however, there is no mentioning of music substitutes but the episode edits are mentioned. As of now there are no future plans for the rest of the series to be released.

The rights to the show are held by CBS Television Distribution.

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
Petticoat Junction (Ultimate Collection) 20 August 30, 2005
Petticoat Junction (The Official First Season) 38 December 16, 2008
Petticoat Junction (The Official Second Season) 36 July 7, 2009
Petticoat Junction (Return to Hooterville) March 12, 2013

Episode list

See List of Petticoat Junction episodes for more information

Crossovers with Green Acres

The following is a list of Petticoat Junction episodes featuring characters from Green Acres. Only those that debuted on Acres before Junction are counted.

Season Three
  • Episode 2: "The Baffling Raffle" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 3: "The Dog Turns Playboy" " Oliver Wendell Douglas
  • Episode 4: "The Good Luck Ring" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 5: "Joe Carson, General Contractor" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 6: "Bobbie Jo's Sorority" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 7: "A Doctor in the House" " Oliver Wendell Douglas
  • Episode 8: "Hooterville-A-Go-Go" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 10: "Betty Jo Goes to New York" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 13: "Uncle Joe Plays Post Office" " Oliver Wendell Douglas
  • Episode 19: "Yogurt, Anyone?" " Oliver Wendell Douglas
  • Episode 21: "The County Fair" " Mr. Haney
  • Episode 29: "Kate Bradley, Peacemaker" " Oliver Wendell Douglas
  • Episode 32: "The Young Matchmakers" " Lisa Douglas
Season Four
  • Episode 1: "Young Love" " Eb Dawson
  • Episode 5: "The All-Night Party" " Eb Dawson
  • Episode 11: "The Runt Strikes Back" " Eb Dawson
  • Episode 13: "The Santa Claus Special" " Eb Dawson
  • Episode 26: "Author! Author!" " Eb Dawson
Season Five
  • Episode 3: "One Dozen Roses" " Eb Dawson
Season Six
  • Episode 4: "The Valley Has a Baby" " Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa Douglas
  • Episode 14: "The Ballad of the Everyday Housewife" " Lisa Douglas
Season Seven
  • Episode 3: "The Other Woman" " Mr. Haney
  • Episode 9: "A Most Momentous Occasion" " Mr. Haney

Broadcast history

NOTE: The most frequent time-slot for this series is in bold text.

  • Tuesday at 9:00 pm on CBS: September 24, 1963 " June 9, 1964
  • Tuesday at 9:30 pm on CBS: September 22, 1964 " May 9, 1967
  • Saturday at 9:30 pm on CBS: September 9, 1967 " April 4, 1970

Nielsen ratings

Season Rank Rating
1) 1963"1964 #4 30.3
2) 1964"1965 #15 25.2 (tie)
3) 1965"1966 #21 22.3
4) 1966"1967 #23 20.9 (tie)
5) 1967"1968 Not in the Top 30
6) 1968"1969
7) 1969"1970

Audio

  • Curt Massey sings the Petticoat Junction theme song, composed by Massey and Henning

See also




This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Petticoat_Junction" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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