1 9 6 3 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
222 x 30 minute episodes
Nobody – but nobody – looked as good swimming in a water tower as the Bradley girls, Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo.
Hooterville (fnarr fnarr!) might not have had a lot of city slicker accoutrements, but with a sturdy water tower and swimmers like those, small-town life just couldn’t have been that bad.
Widow Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet) ran the Shady Rest Hotel, with the help of her aforementioned daughters, and the Shady Rest was about the only place a visitor to Hooterville could find room and board.
City folks dropped by to catch their breath from their hectic city-life pace, because let’s face it, nothing much was ever happening in Hooterville.
Except that Kate was always butting heads with Homer Bedloe (Charles Lane), the head honcho at the C.F. & W Railroad, who wanted to retire the services of the town’s beloved steam engine train, the Cannonball.
And since the rambling old train was the town’s usual transport to Drucker’s General Store, thanks to engineers Charlie (Smiley Burnette) and Floyd (Rufe Davis), plenty of Hootervillians were up in arms. Except for Uncle Joe (Edgar Buchanan) – he was too lazy to be up in anything.
Petticoat Junction made its debut one year after the hick hi-jinks of The Beverly Hillbillies hit TV.
Clearly, folksy Americana was charming viewers and CBS wanted writer-producer Paul Henning to keep working his charm mojo.
Two years after Petticoat debuted, CBS added Green Acres to its small-town repertoire – a show about a big city businessman who ditched life in the fast lane so he could buy a farm near Hooterville.
There was plenty of interplay between the two shows, and Green Acres characters Newt Kiley and handyman Eb Dawson made regular appearances on Petticoat Junction.
But that was just the beginning of Petticoat Junction‘s casting developments. In the fall of 1966, handsome pilot Steve Elliott (Mike Minor) crashed near town, and after he was convalesced at the hands of the Bradley sisters, he married Betty Jo.
After actress Bea Benaderet passed away during the 1968-69 season, actress June Lockhart (formerly mom to Lassie‘s Timmy) came to town as Dr Janet Craig. And the actresses who played the Bradley sisters shuffled around a number of times, though good looks and water tower frolic capabilities were never sacrificed.
Even though the show’s ratings were never quite as high as they were in its pioneer year, Petticoat Junction was one of CBS’s staple shows during the 60s. Quirky, small-town life has always had a niche in television, and this cheekily-named municipality helped make sure that niche never stopped charming viewers.
Petticoat Junction bore at least three other titles – Ozark Widow, Dern Tootin’ and Whistle Stop – before making it onto the air.
One of the best-remembered characters was Higgins the dog (merely called “dog” on the show), who was brought out of retirement after the series was no longer in production to launch a career as famed movie mutt Benji.
Come ride the little train that is rollin’ down the track to the Junction
Forget about your cares it is time to relax at the Junction
Lotsa curves, you bet ‘n 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’ kinda slow at the Junction
Uncle Joe Carson
Billie Jo Bradley
Jeannine Riley (1)
Gunilla Hutton (2)
Meredith MacRae (3)
Bobbie Jo Bradley
Pat Woodell (1)
Lori Saunders (2)
Betty Jo Bradley Elliott
Virginia Sale (1)
Elvia Allman (2)
Susan Walther (1)
Lynette Winter (2)
Kay E. Kuter
Dr Janet Craig
Dr Barton Stuart
Kathy Jo Elliott