Petticoat Junction

The misadventures of the family staff of The Shady Rest Hotel and their neighbors of Hooterville.

Petticoat Junction is an American sitcom that originally aired on CBS from September 1963 to April 1970. The series takes place at the Shady Rest Hotel, which is run by Kate Bradley, her three daughters Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo, and her uncle Joe Carson. The series is one of three interrelated shows about rural characters produced 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). Petticoat Junction was produced by Wayfilms (a joint venture of Filmways Television and Pen-Ten Productions).

The show centers on the goings-on at the rural Shady Rest Hotel. Widowed Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet) is the proprietor. Her lazy-but-lovable Uncle Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan) supposedly helps her in the day-to-day running of the hotel, while she serves as a mediator in the various minor crises that befall her three beautiful daughters: redhead Betty Jo (Linda Kaye Henning); brunette Bobbie Jo (first Pat Woodell, later Lori Saunders); and blonde Billie Jo (first Jeannine Riley, then Gunilla Hutton, and finally Meredith MacRae). Uncle Joe, when he is not idling in his favorite porch chair, frequently comes up with half-baked get-rich-quick schemes and ill-conceived hotel promotions.

Early on, much of the show also focuses on the Hooterville Cannonball, an 1890s vintage steam-driven train run more like a taxi service by engineer Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and fireman/railway conductor Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis). It was not uncommon for the Cannonball to make an unscheduled stop for the crew to go fishing, or to pick fruit for Kate’s apple butter and pies. The single-tracked Hooterville spur line was cut off from the rest of the railroad 20 years before the start of the show by the demolition of a trestle. Charlie and Floyd are alternately depicted as retired employees of the railroad receiving pensions and salaried railroad workers.

Many plots involve railroad executive Homer Bedloe’s futile attempts to shut down and scrap the Hooterville Cannonball. Occasionally, youngest daughter Betty Jo can be found with her hand on the Cannonball’s throttle, as running the train is one of her favorite pastimes (being something of a tomboy with an interest in mechanics is one of her character traits).

Trips on the Cannonball usually include a stop in Hooterville at Drucker’s Store, run by Sam Drucker (Frank Cady). Drucker’s is the local hub, where menfolk come to play checkers and chat. Sam Drucker is the postmaster, and his telephone is a lifeline for the Bradleys, Uncle Joe, and others.

Bea Benaderet as Kate Bradley [seasons 1-5]
Edgar Buchanan as Uncle Joe Carson
Linda Kaye Henning as Betty Jo Bradley
Jeannine Riley as Billie Jo Bradley #1 [seasons 1-2]
Gunilla Hutton as Billie Jo Bradley #2 [season 3]
Meredith MacRae as Billie Jo Bradley #3 [seasons 4-7]
Pat Woodell as Bobbie Jo Bradley #1 [seasons 1-2]
Lori Saunders as Bobbie Jo Bradley #2 [seasons 3-7]
Frank Cady as Sam Drucker
Smiley Burnette as Charley Pratt [seasons 1-4]
Rufe Davis as Floyd Smoot [seasons 1-5]
Mike Minor as Steve Elliott [seasons 4-7]
June Lockhart as Dr. Janet Craig [seasons 6-7]

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