Fun Facts About Petticoat Junction

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Petticoat Junction is one of the best situation comedy (sitcom) shows aired in the early 60s. American screenwriter and producer Paul Henning created this sitcom. The Petticoat Junction’s storyline mainly focused on the Bradley family, who owns the Shady Rest Hotel. Kate Bradley is the proprietor of the hotel. Her three daughters, Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, Billie Jo, and her uncle Joe Carson also help her manage the hotel.Betty Jo was a redhead, Bobbie Jo a brunette, and Billie Jo a blonde.

The Shady Rest Hotel is located near a water stop in a remote portion of C. & F. W. Railroad, where the Hooterville Cannonball train takes its course from Hooterville going to Pixley town.

Another character, Uncle Joe, is usually seen idling the time away in a porch chair. He also dreams about getting rich quick with various scheme and promotions regarding the hotel. Eventually, these schemes and ideas backfire and make him look like a fool.

During its pilot airing on September 24, 1963, on CBS, the sitcom mainly featured funny skits in Hooterville Cannonball. These especially included the misadventures of Homer Bedloe, who failed several times in shutting down the Cannonball’s operations. In the succeeding episodes, the show’s story gradually shifted, with its plot highlighting the going-on in the Shady Rest Hotel. There are several misadventures in the Shady Rest Hotel as well; courtesy of Kate’s three beautiful daughters. The three usually get into trouble, but fortunately Kate always came to settle the mess.

The Petticoat Junction ran for seven seasons and aired a total of 222 episodes. Its final airing was on April 04, 1970.

June Lockhart as Dr. Janet Craig and guest stars Harvey Karels and Harold Peary image

Below are some fun facts about Petticoat Junction that might interest you.

  • Superstar Dog – Nobody predicted that the mainstay dog in the show would also rise to fame. It wasn’t any ordinary kind of fame either; the dog became a real superstar! The dog, which Betty brought from school, was actually unnamed in the show. But the unnamed dog was very adorable and smart, making the execution of every punchline easier and funnier. The dog really captured the people’s hearts, and it enjoyed a whopping 14-year career in Hollywood. The unnamed dog in the Petticoat Junction, called Higgins in real life, even top-billed in the 1974 box office hit movie, ‘Benji.’  The dog not only went to find fame after the movie was released, Higgins also won a PATSY award for his poochy little performance.
  • Reused Train – Even the automobiles and animals seemed to be stars at Petticoat Junction. The Cannonball was a Sierra Railway No. 3 locomotive built in 1891. Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works of Paterson N.J. originally built the famous train for the Prescott & Arizona Central Railroad Company. Aside from the Petticoat Junction, the same train was also used in the ‘The Virginian’ TV series and ‘High Noon’ movie. Even in the 90s, the train was still in superb condition and was reused in the hit movie ‘Back to the Future III.’
  • Change in Occupations:In the early days of the show, the train called the Hooterville Cannonball used to make several unscheduled stops at the hotel. The crew would then go fishing or pick some fruit for Kate make pies and apple butter. Afterwards, the conductor and engineer of the train were seen as retired employees receiving pensions.
  • Fictional Band – Did you know that a fictional band was formed at the height of the Petticoat Junction’s popularity? Billie, Bobbie, and Betty Jo created the fictional singing group named The Ladybugs. The band released a total of 45 singles. Due to its popularity, the band was invited to perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Bradley girls image

  • 3-in-1 – Frank Cady played the role of Sam Drucker, the owner of Drucker’s General Store in the Hooterville. Aside from the Petticoat Junction show, Cady also appeared simultaneously in the show’s spinoff series- Green Acres and Hillbillies.
  • Secret Title. There was no junction in the Petticoat Junction. The show’s title was actually taken from the nickname of a water stop near the Shady Rest Hotel. The water stop was called ‘Petticoat Junction’ because the Bradley sisters are fond of swimming in the water tower, leaving their petticoats on the railway’s side.
  • The Import – Bea Benaderet, who played the role of Kate Bradley, was just an import from the animated TV series- The Flintstones. Bea was the voice of Betty Rubble, the wife of cave dweller Barney Rubble, from 1960-1964.
  • There Was A Petticoat Junction Amusement Park – To go along with the TV show, there was an actual theme park called Petticoat Junction Amusement Park in Panama City Beach, Florida. It was open for 14 years – 1963 – 1984.
  • The ‘Finale’:The Petticoat Junction did not manage to have a series finale. Some might choose to regard the fourth-to-last episode, called ‘Last Train to Pixley’ as a sort of finale as it tied up many loose ends. Here, the residents of the hotel as well as Sam Drucker went on a ride on the Cannonball train. There were several flashbacks of fishing, driving the train, and other cherished memories.
Kate Bradley’s three daughters are really beautiful; but unfortunately, these beautiful women love to engage in hilarious troubles
Kate Bradleys three daughters are really beautiful but unfortunately these beautiful women love to engage in hilarious troubles

The Cast – Then and Now

The many characters that viewers came to know and love at the Shady Rest Hotel and at several other sites in the show were featured in the 1963–1970 television series Petticoat Junction. The ensemble was then considered to be stars in their own right, and it was essentially a sitcom intended to entertain the audience. At this moment, the majority of them have passed away, but some of them are still alive, and you can suppose that they might occasionally like to recall the good old days in their memories.

Even though television back then was undoubtedly different, there yet seem to be many similarities that go unnoticed by most people. Given that television has changed frequently over the years, it is reasonable to say that in the 1960s, it was gradually moving away from the traditional morality that had previously dominated the airwaves and toward something a little more risqué and appealing to the viewer.

cast of Petticoat  Junction image

Edgar Buchanan (Played the role of Edgar Joe Carson)

Edgar Buchanan, June Lockheart with the dog Higgins image

Buchanan had a very full schedule between his work in television and film. He didn’t take a lot of vacation time and was usually always working on a production. It’s difficult to understand how he found time for Petticoat Junction, but he managed. Buchanan was the only actor to appear in all 222 episodes of petticoat Junction. In 1979, he passed away from a stroke.

Bea Benaderet (Played the role of Kate Bradley)

Benaderet was the kind of performer who seemed to handle everything. She had small to extensive lists of voiceover, radio, television, and film credits to her name. Although she was a well-known personality and had an active life, she was only ever nominated for two Emmy awards, which is both strange and rather sad. You would think that someone who does that kind of job consistently and in such a way that people appreciate them would at the very least be deserving of one or two honors. 

Sadly, Benaderet’s character, Kate, was cut short just three episodes into season six when it was announced her lung cancer had returned. In the fourth episode, she gave just her voice to the show. In 1968, shortly after her husband’s death, Bea died of lung cancer and pneumonia.

Linda Kaye Henning (Played the role of Betty Jo Bradley)

Henning is one of the few people who made it through the full run of the program and one of the few people still alive from among the cast. She later appeared as a guest star on other shows and rose to fame as an actress, but in 2007 she made the decision to quit. Anyone can speculate about what she’s doing right now because she’s sort of disappeared, so to speak.

Lorie Sanders (Played the role of Bobby Jo Bradley)

Throughout her career, Sanders has made a few different television series and motion pictures appearances. She is still very much alive and retiring to live out her days. However, she wasn’t the first woman to assume her position on the show; at least one more had done so before her, which she filled. Following her retirement in 1980, Lorie is not known to have attempted any sort of comeback or even appeared as a guest performer.

Meredith MacRae (Played the role of Billie Jo Bradley)

Since she appeared on numerous other programs, including My Three Sons, Magnum P.I., The Dean Martin Show, The Rockford Files, and many others, MacRae had a rather busy television career. However, she passed away in 2000 as a result of cancer-related complications. In accordance with her wishes, her remains were burned and dispersed across the Pacific Ocean.

Frank Cady (Played the role of Sam Drucker)

Cady’s list of film and television credits is quite extensive. He even appeared in Green Acres, a Petticoat Junction spinoff. He appeared in enough productions over the course of his career to be considered a well-known character, and to those who enjoyed his parts in the past, he probably is. 

Frank Cady image

Only Frank Cady has performed the same role on three different television programs at once.

Although he was best known to some as Doc Williams on Ozzie and Harriet, Cady put in a lot of extra work in the 1960s. His character Sam Drucker appeared on both Hillbillies and the Petticoat spinoff Green Acres, and by the end of the decade, he was appearing on all three at once.

Four years after his wife, in 2012, Frank also passed away. Since no reason was stated, it might be assumed that the only factor was old age.

Rufe Davis (Played the role of Floyd Smoo)

Long before the days of Petticoat Junction, in the 1930s and into the 1940s, Davis’ career began to take off. Despite this, he had a lengthy and moderately successful career. For five years, he was essentially a regular on the program, and in its final year, he returned as a guest star. He was 66 at the time of his death, however it is unknown how he died.

Mike Minor (Played the role of Steve Elliot)

Minor was a singer and actor who played the role of Steve Elliot and wed Betty Jo Bradley, one of the three daughters on Petticoat Junction. A year later, Minor married Henning in real life. Their wedding on the show happened to coincide with their real-life wedding day! 

Minor joined Petticoat Junction for the show’s fourth season in September 1966 who crashes his crop-dusting plane when he’s distracted by the sight of the lovely Bradley sisters (played by Meredith MacRae, Linda Kaye Henning and Lori Saunders) swimming in a water tower not far from the Shady Rest Hotel. Minor died in 2016. He was 75.

Babysitting Dad Steve image

Brief History of the Petticoat Junction

The famous American screenwriter and producer Paul Henning created the Petticoat Junction. This sitcom was aired on CBS from 1963- 1970. Based on the Nielsen Media Research survey, the Petticoat Junction’s pilot airing gained an enormous 30.3 rating, making it the 4th best program in its timeslot- Tuesday, 9:00 PM.

But during the sitcom’s fifth season, a major setback happened. This was after the 61 years old actress Bea Benaderet (Kate Bradley) was diagnosed with lung cancer. Bea immediately took a six-week radiation treatment to recover from her illness. While she was out, a couple of actresses entered the show to somehow fill in the gap, including Shirley Mitchell and Rosemary DeCamp. These actresses played the cousin and sister of Kate Bradley, respectively.

The fifth season finale (Kate’s Homecoming episode) was dedicated to Bea’s rejoining to the show. It was indeed a heart-warming episode. However, at the outset of the sixth season, Bea again experienced a lot of fatigue and was advised to take a break. Bea planned to recover and come back to the show as fast as she could, but her body could not hold on anymore. Bea died on October 13, 1968.

The Petticoat Junction suffered a great loss without the main character, Kate. But the show must go on. June Lockhart gave her best shot tofill the big shoes left by Bea. June portrayed Dr. Janet Craig, a healthcare worker who rented a room in Shady Rest Hotel. In 1968, it was a rare scenario to see a female doctor on T.V. This was one of the reasons why the show gradually increased its ratings again.

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