Hank Patterson

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For the baseball player, see Hank Patterson (baseball).
Hank Patterson
Born Elmer Calvin Patterson
(1888-10-09)October 9, 1888
Springville, Alabama, US
Died August 23, 1975(1975-08-23) (aged 86)
Woodland Hills, California, US
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Occupation Actor/Musician
Years active 1939–1975

Hank Patterson (born Elmer Calvin Patterson; October 9, 1888 – August 23, 1975) was an American actor and musician. He is most known for playing stableman Hank Miller on Gunsmoke and Fred Ziffel on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

Early life[edit]

Patterson was born in Springville, Alabama, one of seven children[1] of Green Davis Patterson, an insurance agent,[2] and Mary Isabell "Mollie" Newton Patterson.[3] By the 1890s his family had moved to Taylor, Texas, where he spent most of his boyhood, and attended school through 8th grade.[4] [5] In 1917 he registered for a World War I draft card in Lubbock County, Texas.[6]

Patterson had intended to be a serious pianist, but instead became a vaudeville piano player. By the end of the 1920s he moved to California. He entered the movie business as an actor during the 1930s. HIs earliest identified screen work was an uncredited appearance in the Roy Rogers western The Arizona Kid (1939).[7]

Movies and TV[edit]

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[4] in Republic Pictures westerns, and then in popular juvenile TV westerns including The Cisco Kid, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Lone Ranger and Annie Oakley.

Patterson had a recurring role of stableman Hank Miller on Gunsmoke from 1962-73 in 33 episodes.[8][9]

He played recurring or different roles in adult/family TV westerns including Have Gun-Will Travel (eleven episodes),[10][11][12] Death Valley Days (nine episodes), Tales of Wells Fargo (seven episodes),[13][14] Maverick (four episodes),[4] Cheyenne (four episodes), Wagon Train (three episodes), Daniel Boone (three episodes), The Virginian (two episodes), The Rifleman and Bonanza and in episodes of Lawman, Bat Masterson and many others.[15]

He made additional TV appearances, including three episodes of The Twilight Zone[16][17] as well as Perry Mason,[18] Burke's Law, The Untouchables, Judd for the Defense and in later years The Mod Squad and Love, American Style.

Green Acres[edit]

In 1963 Patterson first appeared in what would become a recurring role as farmer Fred Ziffel on the popular CBS rural comedy Petticoat Junction. In 1965 CBS debuted another rural comedy, Green Acres. Both series were set in the mythical farming community of Hooterville, with characters from Petticoat Junction often also appearing in Green Acres, including Patterson's Fred Ziffel character. It was on the popular, irreverent Green Acres that Patterson earned his greatest fame. In 1965 and 1966--two of the years in which the two series ran concurrently--Patterson frequently appeared in both shows in the same week on primetime.[10]

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 (Green Acres co-star Eddie Albert).[19][20]

According to westernclippings.com "Characters and Heavies" by Boyd Magers, "Ironically, 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 Hank's leg with a yardstick as a cue to speak his line."[15]

Personal life[edit]

Hank Patterson was married to Daisy Marguerite (Sheeler)[21] Patterson, a Kentucky native[22] four years younger than Hank whose parents were both of German ancestry.[23] They are listed together in both the 1930[24] and 1940 U.S. Census residing in Los Angeles. In the 1940 census, Hank's occupation is listed as "Actor, Motion Picture Studio & Stage."[5]

Patterson's great-grandfather, James Pearson, was an original settler of St. Clair County, Alabama as was his mother's great-grandfather, Thomas Newton. His great-grandfather, Henry S. Patterson, moved to Blount County, Alabama, around 1857 from Murray County, Georgia. Between 1894 and 1897, the family left Alabama to live in Texas.

Hank Patterson died at age 86 on August 23, 1975[25] of bronchial pneumonia. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood.[26] Daisy died, also at age 86, on February 2, 1979.[21]

Patterson's great-niece is actress Téa Leoni.[27]


  1. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M23N-7NY
  2. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11847-19325-85?cc=1325221&wc=M941-G9H:131857276
  3. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M35T-J3Z
  4. ^ a b c Hank Patterson movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography – AllMovie
  5. ^ a b View Free Records with a Free Account
  6. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KZX2-7FW
  7. ^ http://www.allmovie.com/artist/hank-patterson-p55427 eventually moving to Hollywood
  8. ^ Gunsmoke: The Other Hard Living Folks in Dodge City
  9. ^ Hank Patterson | Charles Starrett – One Fan's Journey
  10. ^ a b Hank Patterson Credits
  11. ^ Have Gun – Will Travel – Season 2, Episode 2: In an Evil Time – TV.com
  12. ^ Have Gun – Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume Two : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video
  13. ^ Classic TV & Movie Hits – Tales of Wells Fargo
  14. ^ CTVA US Western – "Tales of Wells Fargo" (Revue/NBC) Season 6 (1961–62)
  15. ^ a b Hank Patterson
  16. ^ Hank Patterson – About This Person – Movies & TV – NYTimes.com
  17. ^ Favorite Hank Patterson Episode? in Twilight Zone: The Polls Forum
  18. ^ Perry Mason TV Series Wiki | EpisodePages / Show38
  19. ^ Arnold the Pig,... -Green Acres – latimes.com
  20. ^ Frequently Asked Green Acres Questions
  21. ^ a b https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPC2-98Y
  22. ^ https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3Ageorge~%20%2Bsurname%3Asheeler~%20%2Brecord_country%3A%22United%20States%22%20%2Brecord_subcountry%3A%22United%20States%2CKentucky%22%20%2Bbirth_place%3Akentucky~%20%2Bbirth_year%3A1857-1863~
  23. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M9HW-4QS
  24. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XC8S-RXG
  25. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPH5-NV3
  26. ^ Hank Patterson (1888–1975) – Find A Grave Memorial
  27. ^ Leoni Online: The Articles – Elle Magazine

External links[edit]