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Petticoat Junction

By Wikipedia

Petticoat Junction was a situation comedy that was produced by Filmways, Inc. and originally aired on the CBS network from 1963 to 1970.

The "petticoats" of the title referred to the many women of the Shady Rest Hotel; in the opening sequence, it was implied that Kate Bradley's three daughters swam nude in a water tower, as their petticoats were placed over the side. The "junction" in the title refers to the fact it was situated on a train line in the country.

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 brother Joe (Edgar Buchanan) 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, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo. The actresses portraying Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo varied over the years; Betty Jo was consistently portrayed by Linda Kaye (Henning), daughter of series creator Paul Henning.

The most unique "character" in the Petticoat Junction cast was the Hooterville Cannonball, an abbreviated steam-driven train (serviced by the above-mentioned water tower) run more like a taxi service by its engineer, Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and conductor, Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis). It was not uncommon for the men of 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 driving the train home from trips into town was one of her favorite pastimes. Even the show's theme song was suggestive of a train running.

Another important nonhuman character was the unnamed canine companion of the sisters, referred to simply as "the dog". It was portrayed by "Higgins", who later went on to even greater fame later as Benji. (In the series it was implied that the dog was female as it had its own petticoat in the opening water tower scene.)

J. Homer Bedloe, played by actor Charles Lane, was vice president of the C&FW Railroad. Bedloe was a mean-spirited, yet somehow also gentle, railroad executive who visited the Shady Rest Hotel periodically attempting to find justification for ending the train service of the Hooterville Cannonball (and never succeeding).

The show benefited greatly in its first four seasons from the very strong lead-in of The Red Skelton Show, which immediately preceded it on Tuesday nights on CBS. In its first season it even exceeded Skelton's ratings, finishing at #4 overall for the season. The rest of its time on Tuesday nights, it remained in the Nielsen top 25.

In 1968, Bea Benaderet died of lung cancer, and in the story, Joe became the proprietor of the Shady Rest. A new role was created of an female doctor in Hooterville, and June Lockhart joined the cast in the role of Janet Craig to serve as a replacement of sorts for Benaderet. The ratings began to fall (it had also been moved to Saturday night, traditionally American television's lowest-rated night, the previous year) and the show was canceled in 1970.

The show was set in the same fictional universe as the rural television comedies Green Acres, also set in Hooterville, and The Beverly Hillbillies. The shows even shared characters, and sometimes "crossed over" into each other's episodes, especially so during the shows' earlier years.


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Check out our Petticoat Junction forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Petticoat Junction viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

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I was a big fan of the 3 girls, from the start of the show, where they were sitting on top of the silo and throughout each episode. I especially enjoyed watching Meredith McRae, one of the sexiest actresses ever. I was a teenage boy at the time, and she did strange things to me, from a distance. That's all I can say about that, without my wife divorcing me, or my comments being edited, or ommitted. I can't remember a favorite episode...they were all great! Thanks for letting me share my memories.


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Aired: 1963-1970

Cast: Bea Benaderet, June Lockhart

Network: CBS

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of CBS

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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