This hugely popular sitcom was almost (but not quite) a spin-off from The Beverly Hillbillies. Both came from the imagination of executive producer Paul Henning and it was Petticoat Junction that finally made a star (and deservedly so) of Bea Benadaret, who had first come to the public's attention as George Burns and Gracie Allen's next door neighbour, Blanche - and who had been heard for years as the voice of Betty Rubble in The Flintstones and appeared in The Beverly Hillbillies as Jethro's mother, Pearl Bodine.
The small farming community of Hooterville provided the setting for widower Kate Bradley (Benadaret), owner of a small hotel called The Shady Rest. Helping her to run the hotel were her three beautiful daughters, Billie Jo, Bobby Jo and Betty Jo, as well as the girls uncle (not surprisingly called Joe), who assumed the mantle of hotel manager. In addition to running the hotel and keeping a wary eye on the romantic lives of her daughters, Kate was often at loggerheads with Homer Bedloe, vice-president of a railway company that was committed to closing down the steam-driven branch of the line that ran through Hooterville thereby scrapping its lone engine (The Cannonball) and firing its two engineers, Charlie Pratt and Fred Smoot.
There was eventually a spin-off series to Petticoat Junction called Green Acres, which was set just a few miles 'down the road' and as a result of this characters would pop up from time to time in each-others series. The comedy began to suffer though when Benadaret missed a number of episodes due to ill health, which sadly led to her death before the start of the sixth series. Although June Lockhart stepped in as a mature female doctor in 1968 there was a notable loss of the old chemistry that had made the series work in the first place, and the show was finally laid to rest in 1970.
Published on January 18th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.