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Petticoat Junction is an Americanmarker situation comedy produced by Filmways which originally aired on the CBS network from 1963 to 1970. The series is part of a triad of interrelated shows about rural characters created by Paul Henning, the other two being The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres.

The setting for the series was the Shady Rest Hotel just outside of the farming town of Hooterville (later the location of Green Acres). The Shady Rest Hotel is situated on the train line of the C. & F.W. Railroad. The show repeatedly mentions the Shady Rest Hotel as being from Pixley and from Hooterville, dead in the center. The characters seem to go to Hooterville for some things and services, like Hooterville Hospital and Hooterville High, and Pixley for others, notably supermarket shopping, beauty parlors, and movies.

The titular petticoat 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 a large railroad water tank where the three daughters are skinnydipping.


The idea for Petticoat Junction came from Paul Henning's wife. She used to tell him stories of her childhood when she was visiting her family's hotel in Eldon, Missouri. The stories she used to tell Paul about her adventures at the Burris Hotel became the basis of the show.

During pre-production, proposed titles were Ozark Widow, Dern Tootin' and Whistle Stop. 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 Uncle Joe Carson (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 three daughters: Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo. The actresses portraying Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo changed over the years. Billie Jo was played by Jeannine Riley the first two seasons, and then by Gunilla Hutton for one year before Meredith MacRae assumed the role for the show's remaining seasons. Pat Woodell was the original Bobbie Jo for two years, with Lori Saunders playing the part subsequently.

Betty Jo was portrayed by Linda Kaye (Henning), daughter of series creator Paul Henning, for the entire run. The character of handsome crop duster Steve Elliott (Mike Minor) was added to the show at the start of its fourth season as a love interest for eldest daughter Billie Jo. A season later, however, Steve suddenly married 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 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 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 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, Californiamarker. A number of location shots, particularly of the water tower, were filmed in the real Pixley.

Another character was the unnamed canine companion of the sisters, referred to simply as "dog". It was portrayed by "Higgins", who later went on to even greater fame as Benji.

Homer Bedloe, played by 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.

The show benefitted greatly in its first four seasons from the very strong lead-in of The Red Skelton Show, which immediately preceded it on Tuesday nights. 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 1967, the show suffered its first loss when Smiley Burnette, as engineer Charley Pratt, died of leukemia. Rufe Davis' 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 and Davis returned for the episode "Last Train To Pixley". Ironically, Foulger died on the same day the final episode of Petticoat Junction aired: April 4, 1970.

Illness kept Bea Benaderet away for the last portion of the 1967–68 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 in several episodes as Kate's sister Helen. Bea returned for the 1968–69 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, 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: In the first episode (ep. 197) the three girls (with the baby) have come back to the hotel from swimming in the water tower which leads Steve to question them about letting the baby swim with them, to which Billie Jo/Bobbie Jo reply longingly, "Mom taught us to swim in that very same water tower." In another episode (later in the season), Uncle Joe refers to an upstairs guest room as a memorial suite. The name of the suite is "Joshua Peabody" and not "Kate Bradley" as many think. The decline in ratings, which began when the show moved to Saturday night, continued. The show was canceled in 1970 as a precursor to the infamous CBS "rural purge", when all the other country-themed shows were axed the following season.

The show 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, Arnold the Pig, Newt Kiley, and Ben Miller, actually got their "start" on Petticoat Junction in the 1964–1965 season, which saw a number of scripts written by 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. Granny looks at a picture of Kate and is astonished at her resemblance to Jed's cousin, Pearl Bodine (previously played by Benaderet), and prior to her visit to Hooterville, reminded Jed that he was related to Kate through Pearl. 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.).

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.


Petticoat Junction was cancelled in the spring of 1970 due to declining ratings, a full year before the infamous "rural purge" by CBS of the other shows that, in the words of Pat Buttram, "had a tree in them."

CBS was lagging behind in certain key demographics by the late 60s, and decided it wanted a more hip, urban lineup to compete for younger viewers. Its sister shows Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies fell victim, as did Hee Haw and Mayberry R.F.D., the latter two of which were still garnering decent ratings.

Jeannine Riley (the first Billie Jo) and Lori Saunders (the second Bobbie Jo)would later star together in the 1973–74 comedy series, "Dusty's Trail".

Jeannine Riley and Gunilla Hutton (the second Billie Jo) were regulars on the TV show Hee Haw during the CBS years of the show from 1969 to 1971. Jeannine left the show in 1971, while Gunilla stayed with the show until 1991.

During the last season of The Beverly Hillbillies in 1970–1971, Lori Saunders and Mike Minor appeared on the show but in different characters, Saunders playing one of Mr. Drysdale's secretaries and Minor playing out of work actor Dick Bremerkamp.

Higgins the dog and Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe) reunited for the first "Benji" feature movie in 1974.


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.

Petticoat Junction was one of the first shows to be broadcast on TV Land, which did air two black-and-white episodes on occasion. The show has not aired on cable television since it left the network in 1999.

DVD Releases

Some of 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, and in 2005 allowed 20 black-and-white episodes from Season One to be officially released on DVD in "ultimate collections" via MPI Home Video.

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. On The Official Second Season rear box, the studio mentions that those episodes are edited as well, but the music is intact.

The rights to the show are held by CBS Television Distribution.

DVD Name Episodes Release Date Additional Information
Petticoat Junction – Ultimate Collection 20 August 30, 2005
  • First 21 episodes of Season 1, excluding Christmas episode.
  • ISBN 0788606697 or ISBN 9780788606694 (Region 1)
Petticoat Junction & The Beverly Hillbillies – Ultimate Christmas Collection 1 October 25, 2005
  • Note: Includes one episode of each show; the shows are from the first season which were absent from the separate Ultimate Collections.
Petticoat Junction – The Official First Season 38 December 16, 2008
  • Rear Box Art: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version."
  • Episodic Video Intros with Linda Kaye Henning & Pat Woodell
  • Interviews with the two stars; an interview with creator, Paul Henning (1990)
  • Original Sponsor Spots
  • Photo Gallery with original theme song
Petticoat Junction – The Official Second Season 36 July 7, 2009
  • Rear Box Art: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions."
  • Introductions by Linda Kaye Henning & Pat Woodell
  • Interview with Linda Kaye Henning & Pat Woodell
  • Photo Gallery with original theme song

Episode List

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Petticoat Junction on CBS.

Season Episodes Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers

(in millions)
1 38 September 24, 1963 June 9, 1964 1963–1964 #4 15.63
2 36 September 22, 1964 June 15, 1965 1964–1965 #15 13.28
3 34 September 14, 1965 May 10, 1966 1965–1966 #21 12.00
4 32 September 13, 1966 May 9, 1967 1966–1967 #23 11.52
5 30 September 9, 1967 March 30, 1968 1967–1968 #35 N/A
6 26 September 28, 1968 March 29, 1969 1968–1969 #35 N/A
7 26

September 27, 1969 April 4, 1970 1969–1970 N/A N/A


  • Some exterior shots were filmed partially in Jamestown, Californiamarker, the site of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.
  • The original idea for Petticoat Junction came from Henning's wife, whose family ran the Burris hotel in Eldon, Missourimarker in the early 20th century.


See also


External links

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