During the 1960s and early 1970s, CBS featured three successful rural-based comedies: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971), Petticoat Junction (1963-1970) and Green Acres. American TV producer and screenwriter, Paul Henning created The Beverly Hillbillies. He and his wife, Ruth, created Petticoat Junction, and Henning was the executive producer of Green Acres. The rural comedies were so intertwined that some of the characters crossed over from one to another.
Green Acres, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, aired on the network for six seasons, from September 15, 1965 to April 27, 1971. The show received good ratings, but it was cancelled due to CBS's decision to purge its rural shows in favour of urban based shows such as All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
On Green Acres, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor starred as a couple from New York City who move from their penthouse to a dilapidated country farm in Hooterville. It was the reverse of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Eddie and Eva were both singers, and they sang the catchy opening theme song on Green Acres.
THE CAST OF GREEN ACRES
Eddie Albert was one of the earliest performers on television. In June of 1936, he even appeared in RCA/NBC's private live performance in New York City of their experimental all electronic television system
In 1952, Eddie starred in his own CBS sitcom, Leave it to Larry, which was cancelled after 11 episodes. By 1953, he had his own daytime variety program, The Eddie Albert Show, on the same network. Eddie was very active on TV during the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in episodes of many shows, including The Loretta Young Show (3 episodes from 1954-1958) ss well as Dr. Kildare (1963), Mr. Novak (1964) and Rawhide (1964). In 1968, Eddie delivered a dramatic reading on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Nevertheless, Eddie Albert is best remembered for his role on Green Acres, in which he portrayed Oliver Wendell Douglas, a city slicker attorney from New York City. Oliver yearned for the countryside and farm living, much to the dismay of his wife, Lisa, played by Eva Gabor. The couple moved to Hooterville, a fictional backwater town, where Oliver became a well-dressed gentleman farmer.
Eddie Albert played the role of Oliver Wendell Doughs in all 170 episodes of Green Acres from 1965 to 1971, as well as 12 episodes of Petticoat Junction (1965-1968) and a 1968 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.
In the 1970s, after Green Acres, Eddie appeared in episodes of Columbo (1971), Here's Lucy (1973), and Kung Fu (1974}. From 1975 to 1978, he starred as ex-cop Frank MacBride, alongside Robert Wagner, in the crime/drama Switch. In the 1980s, Eddie guest-starred on Highway to Heaven (1986), Falcon Crest (1987), Murder, She Wrote (1988) and Thirtysomething (1989). In 1983, he had a two-episode stint as Jack Boland on the daytime soap General Hospital.
In 1995, Eddie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's diseases. He died of pneumonia on May 26, 2005 at the age of 99. He passed away in his home in Pacific Palisades, California.
Eddie and his wife, Margo, a Mexican-American actress and dancer, were married on December 5, 1945. Margo Albert died of brain cancer on July 17, 1985.
Eddie and Margo had a son, Edward Laurance Albert (born February 20, 1951), who also became an actor. The couple also adopted a daughter, Maria, who was her father's business manager. Their son, known professionally as Edward Albert, starred opposite Goldie Hawn in the 1972 film Butterflies Are Free, for which he was awarded a Golden Globe. The younger Albert died of lung cancer on September 22, 2006 at the age of 55. He had cared for his ailing father before his own death.
Eddie Albert was a committed environmentalist and philanthropist.
EVA GABOR (LISA DOUGLAS):
In 1968, Eva guest-starred on The Beverly Hillbillies as Lisa Douglas.in an episode called "The Thanksgiving Spirit" (Season 7, Episode 10, Air Date: November 27, 1968). In the episode, the Clampetts spend Thanksgiving in Hooterville. Eva also had a guest spot in a 1968 episode of Here's Lucy, starring Lucille Ball.
In 1971, Eva Gabor appeared on The Red Skelton Hour in an episode entitled "Freddie's Country Home" (Season 20, Episode 18, Air Date: February 1, 1971). She also played a role in two episodes of Fantasy Island (1978-1981) and three episodes of The Love Boat (1977-1986).
In the 1980s, Eva, appeared on fourth season episode of Hart to Hart, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. Eva played the role of Aunt Renee. in an episode is entitled "With this Hart I Thee Wed." (Season 4, Episode 2, Air Date: October 12, 1982). Eva was also a guess star in a 1984 episode of Hotel. In 1992, Eva reprised her Lisa Douglas role in an episode of the comedy "Honey, I'm Home."
Eva did voice-over work for Disney animated classics. She provided the voice for Duchess and Miss Bianca in The Aristocats, The Rescuers (1977) and The Rescuers Down Under.(1990. Eva was a panelist on Match Game, hosted by Gen Rayburn. From 1983 to 1984, she appeared on The Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour, starring Rayburn and Jon Bauman
Eva was married and divorced five times. She had no biological children, but was stepmother to two daughters, Mary and Joanne, from her marriage to Dick Brown, her fourth husband. She had an on-off relationship with actor Glenn Ford between marriages. According to IMDb, Eva "resided platonically" with television host Merv Griffin for several years until her death. She was a frequent guest on his talk show.
Eva Gabor passed away on July 4, 1995 at the age of 76. She died in Los Angeles of respiratory failure and pneumonia, following a fall in a bathtub while vacationing in Mexico.
Thomas William Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi.in 1938. He grew up on his grandfather's farm.
Tom graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in chemistry, He taught science and technology at a school in Purrcell, Oklahoma before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. In Hollywood, he befriended radio and character actress Lurene Tuttle. She became his acting coach and suggested that he work with Little Theater. He took her advice and began acting in productions at the North Hollywood Playhouse.
In the early 1960s, Tom appeared in a play with Petticoat Junction star Linda Kaye Henning, daughter of CBS producer Paul Henning. This led to his auditioning for the role of Eb Dawson, and he beat out about 400 other actors for the part.
After Green Acres, Tom guess-starred in episodes of such series as Love, American Style, Marcus Welby, M.D. (1974)., Little House on the Prairie (1981) and Knight Rider (1982). He also reprised his role as Eb Dawson on Return to Green Acres, a 1990 TV movie that reunited most of the cast of the series, including Eddie Albert, Eva Gabor, Alvy Moore, Sid Melton, Pat Buttram, and Frank Cady.
On April 20, 2020, Tom died of complications from Parkinson's disease in the Nashville home of his fiancée and long-term caregiver. He was 81 years old at the time of his passing.
HANK PATTERSON (FRED ZIFFEL):
Hank Patterson married Daisy Marguerite Sheeler, a native of Kentucky, on May 18, 1915. Hank passed away on August 23, 1975 of bronchial pneumonia. He was 86 years old at the time of his passing. His wife, Daisy, died on February 2, 1979. She was also 86 at the time of her death.
BARBARA PEPPER (DORIS ZIFFEL):
Barbara Pepper was born on May 31, 1915 in New York City. Her father, David Mitchell "Dave" Pepper was an actor. She began her life in show business as one of the Goldwyn Girls, a musical stock company, where she became friends with Lucille Ball.
In 1943, Barbara married actor Craig Reynolds, and they had two sones. In 1949, her husband died in motorcycle accident in California. She never remarried.
A prolific actress, Barbara appeared in over 40 films from 1937 to 1943. After a weight gain, her parts were generally limited to minor character roles on television. She made appearances on I Love Lucy, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Jack Benny Program and Perry Mason and Petticoat Junction. Prior to her role on Green Acres, she appeared in three 1964 episodes of Petticoat Junction (as Ruth and then later Doris Ziffel). Barbara also appeared in episodes of Mister Ed (1965), My Three Sons (1966), Daniel Bone (1966) and My Mother the Car (1966).
On Green Acres, Barbara portrayed Doris Ziffel, the wife of farmer Fred Ziffel. She played the role of Doris from 1965 until 1968, when health issues forced her to leave the show. She was replaced by character actress Fran Ryan for the duration of the series.
Barbara Pepper died of coronary thrombosis in Panama City, California on July 18, 1969. She was 54 years old at the time of her passing. Just before her death, Barbara appeared in 1969 episodes of The Doris Day Show and Mayberry R.F.D.
FRAN RYAN, the second Doris Ziffel, passed away on June 15, 2000 at the age of 83. She appeared in just seven episodes of Green Acres from 1969 to 1971.
Pat died of kidney failure on January 8, 1994. He passed away at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 78 at the time of his passing.
SID MELTON (ALF MONROE)
Sid Melton was born Sidney Melzer in Brooklyn, New York on May 22, 1917. His father, Isidor Melzer, was a Yiddish theatre comedian. His brother, Lewis Melzer,, was a Hollywood screenplay writer (The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955, starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak)..
Sid'a acting career spanned more than 70 years. In 1939, he made his stage debut in a touring production of See My Lawyer. In the 1940s, Sid had comical bit parts in films. He began appearing on television in 1954, with a recurring role on the children's show Captain Midnight" as chief mechanic Ichabod "Ikky Mudd. He had minor roles and bit parts in episodes of several TV series during the 1950s, including Our Miss Brooks (1954), Topper (1955), The Adventures of Superman 1956, as a thug), The NBC Comedy Hour (1956), The Jack Benny Program (1957), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958, as a cab driver).
From 1959 to 1964, Sid appeared The Danny Thomas Show as Charley Halper, proprietor of the Copa Club, the nightclub where Danny Williams (Danny Thomas) performed. Sid's TV wife on the show was comedian Pat Carroll.
During the the 1960s, Sid guest-starred on episodes of Bachelor Father (four episodes 1960-1961), The Joey Bishop Show (1961), The Munsters (1964), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1964), The Andy Griffith Show (1965), The Danny Thomas Hour (1967), That Girl (1968), Petticoat Junction (1968) and I Dream of Jeannie (1969).
From 1965 to 1969, Sid had a recurring role on Green Acres. He portrayed incompetent carpenter Alf Monroe in 32 episodes of the series. The hapless Alf continually argued with his sister, played by Mary Grace Canfield, who was his partner in the carpentry business.
From 1970 to 1971, Sid reprised his Charley Halper role in 11 episodes of Make Room for Granddaddy, a short-lived revival of The Danny Thomas Show, with much of the cast.
Sid was still quite active in the 1980s and 1990s. Between 1982 to 1995, he appeared on The Golden Girls in flashbacks and dreams as Sophia's deceased husband. He also appeared in five episodes of Empty Nest (1993-1995), two episodes of Blossom (1994-1995) an episode of The John Larroquette Show (1995) and Dave's World (1997).
According to his obituary in the New York Times, Sid was married in the 1940s, but the marriage was annulled. According to IMDb, Sid married "Jody Lee Myers August 10, 1952?"
Sid Melton died of pneumonia on November 2, 2011 in Burbank, California. He was 94 years old at the time of his passing.
ALVY MOORE (HANK KIMBALL):
In the 1950s and 1960s, Frank Cady was a familiar face on television, although he never had a leading role. From 1953 to 1964, Frank portrayed Doc Williams in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He played Sam Drucker for the entire run of Petticoat Junction from 1963 to 1970, appearing in 152 of the show's 222 episodes. He also appeared in 142 of the 170 episodes of Green Acres during its six seasons. From 1968 to 1970, Frank played Sam in ten episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. From 1968 to 1969, Frank portrayed Sam Drucker simultaneously.in three series.
Drucker's store was a local hub in Hooterville and Uncle Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan from Petticoat Junction) could often be found there playing checkers with Sam. Sam's phone was widely used by Joe and the Bradley clan of Petticoat Junction's Shady Rest Hotel. In addition to his shopkeeping duties, Sam also served as the town's postmaster.
Frank's final acting role was in the 1990 TV movie, Return to Green Acres. In a 1995 interview with the The Portland Oregonian, reflected on his television career. He stated, "You get typecast. I'm remembered for those shows and not for some pretty good acting jobs I did other times. I suppose I ought to be grateful for that because otherwise I wouldn't be remembered at all. I've got to be one of the luckiest guys in the world."
Frank and Shirley Cady were married for 68 years, until Shirley's death in 2008. They had two children, a daughter named Catherine, and a son, Steven. Frank Cady died on June 8, 2012 at his home in Wilsonville, Oregon. He was 96 years old at the time of his passing.
SOURCES: Television Academy, Eddie Albert 1906-2005: Amiable Actor, best known for Green Acres, was also devoted environmentalist," May 23, 2005; Forbes, "'Green Acres' Star Tom Lester Dies at 81," by Marc Berman, April 20, 2020; The New York Times, Sid Melton, Comic Actor of Film and TV, Dies at 94,"by Paul Vitello, November 6, 2011; "Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)