|Created by||Paul Henning
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||222 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jay Sommers
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Wayfilms, Inc.
The CBS Television Network
|Distributor||Viacom Enterprises (1971-1995)
Paramount Domestic Television (1995-2006)
CBS Television Distribution (2006-present)
|Original run||September 24, 1963– April 4, 1970|
|Related shows||The Beverly Hillbillies
Petticoat Junction is an American situation comedy produced by Wayfilms (a joint venture of Filmways Television and Pen-Ten Productions) 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 25 miles (40 km) 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 railway'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 referring to both the train tracks and the Bradley daughters.
- 1 Background
- 2 Cast of characters
- 3 Cancellation
- 4 Nielsen ratings/Broadcast history
- 5 Syndication
- 6 DVD releases
- 7 Episode list
- 8 Theme Song
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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 (once called the Rock Island Hotel), owned by her family, in Eldon, Missouri. These stories became the basis of the show. Taking that idea, Henning believed that the show would make an ideal starring vehicle for veteran character actress Bea Benaderet. Since the 1930s, Benaderet had been playing second banana on radio and television to such personalities as Jack Benny and Lucille Ball, as well as George Burns and Gracie Allen. In addition, she had been an uncredited voice actress for many Warner Brothers cartoons. Just prior to being cast as the lead in Petticoat Junction, Benaderet was simultaneously appearing as a semi-regular on The Beverly Hillbillies during its first season and was also providing the voice of Betty Rubble on the ABC-TV animated sitcom The Flintstones. Henning felt that Benaderet had more than paid her dues and had earned the right to headline her own series.
During pre-production, proposed titles were Ozark Widow, Dern Tootin' and Whistle Stop. Set just outside the rural town of Hooterville, the show followed the goings-on at The Shady Rest Hotel, of which Kate Bradley (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 Linda Kaye, the daughter of Paul Henning, for the entire run.
The character of handsome crop duster Steve Elliott (Mike Minor), who is suspected by Uncle Joe of being a spy, was added to the show in early Season Four. He's originally the love interest of eldest daughter Billie Jo; a season later, however, Steve suddenly marries 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, Kathy Jo, 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 for passengers to go fishing or pick fruit for Kate Bradley's menu at the Shady Rest. 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 the "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, called simply "Dog" or "Boy". Different names were suggested when he first arrived, but no one ever decided on a name, so he was never actually named. He was portrayed by "Higgins", who later went on to even greater fame as Benji. He appeared in 163 episodes out of the series' 222.
Homer Bedloe, played by character 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.
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, not appearing in any last season episodes, and Davis returned as Floyd Smoot for two episodes, one of them being "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 Paul Henning's daughter, Linda Kay Henning (billed as Linda Kaye) 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 scantily clad for some photos. There was a cast photo taken with Sharon Tate, but she was replaced just before the show began. 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. Many viewers may not have noticed the subtle cast change from Pat Woodell to Lori Saunders as the two actresses resembled each other quite a bit. 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. Interesting tidbit: 4 of the 6 actresses who portrayed the Bradley girls were born the same year--1944: Gunilla Hutton (Billie Jo # 2) on May 15, Meredith MacRae (Billie Jo # 3) on May 30, Pat Woodell (Bobbie Jo # 1) on July 12 and Linda Henning (Betty Jo) on September 16. Sadly, Meredith MacRae passed away in July 2000 of cancer.
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 #3), season two (ranked at #13), and season three (ranked at #20), all finished in the top twenty. 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 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 a 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 two seasons (1968–1970), 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 (Fred's wife was originally named Ruth)), 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. Prior to her visit to Hooterville, she reminded Jed that he was related to Kate through Pearl. Interesting tidbit: Bea Benaderet played Pearl Bodine in several of the first season episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. 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
Due to declining ratings on a weak Saturday night timeslot, CBS considered cancelling Petticoat Junction in the spring of 1969, when the series placed 35th in the Nielsen ratings. The series was renewed for a seventh season for the 1969–70 season. For its seventh season the series placed 34th out of 88 shows which, in the 1950s and early 1960's, would have easily guaranteed the show a renewal for another year. The series was, however, cancelled after seven seasons and 222 episodes as a predecessor to the "rural purge".
Nielsen ratings/Broadcast history
|1) 1963–1964||Tuesday nights at 9:00pm||#3||33.3|
|2) 1964–1965||Tuesday nights at 9:30pm||#13||25.5|
|4) 1966–1967||#23||20.9 (tie)|
|5) 1967–1968||Saturday nights at 9:30pm||#30||19.9|
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. Me-TV began airing the first two seasons of the show on November 4, 2013.
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).
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". On The Official Second Season, however, there is no mentioning of music substitutes but the episode edits are mentioned. On October 1, 2013, season three was released on DVD as a Walmart exclusive. It will be released as a full retail release on April 15, 2014.
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|
|Petticoat Junction (The Official Third Season)||34||April 15, 2014|
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
Curt Massey sang the Petticoat Junction theme song. The song was composed by Massey and Paul Henning.
Come ride the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the junction
Forget about your cares, it is time to relax at the junction
Lotsa curves, you bet
Even more when you get
To the junction
There's a little hotel called the Shady Rest at the junction
It is run by Kate, come and be her guest at the junction
And that's Uncle Joe, he's a movin' kind of slow at the junction
- Flatt and Scruggs recorded a well known version of the song "Petticoat Junction."
- The Moody Brothers' 1989 Grammy nominated country instrumental "The Great Train Song Medley" featured the song "Petticoat Junction".
- ""Petticoat Junction" (1963)". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- "So Much for Old-Time Small-Town Values". The New York Times. 2005-10-23. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Miller County Hotels". Miller County Museum & Historical Society. 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Weiner, Ed; Editors of TV Guide (1992). The TV Guide TV Book: 40 Years of the All-Time Greatest Television Facts, Fads, Hits, and History. New York: Harper Collins. p. 173. ISBN 0-06-096914-8.
- "Charles Lane (I) – filmography". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Episode 6 "Please Buy My Violets"
- "Programs on Me-TV". Me-TV Network. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- "Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies: Ultimate Christmas Collection, The". Mpihomevideo.com. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- "Petticoat Junction: Cannonball Christmas". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- "Pettitcoat Junction: The Santa Claus Special". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Petticoat Junction.|
- Petticoat Junction at the Internet Movie Database
- A film clip of an episode, "Spur Line to Shady Rest", episode 1 of season 1 (24 September 1963) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- A film clip of an episode, "A Night at the Hooterville Hilton", episode 13 of season 1 (17 December 1963) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Petticoat Junction at TV.com
- Railtown 1897 State Historic Park