9 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Green Acres’
Green Acres is a sitcom classic. Running from September 1965 to April 1971, the show followed city slickers, Oliver Wendell Douglas (played by Eddie Albert) and Lisa Douglas (played by Eva Gabor), as they left their life of luxury in Manhattan for a country farm. It’s been over 40 years since the series went off the air and there’s still a lot that people don’t know about the show, so check out these 9 things you didn’t know about Green Acres:
9. Based on a Radio Show
After the success of shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, CBS offered their creator Paul Henning another half hour slot in the schedule with no pilot required. He asked Jay Sommers (screenwriter and executive producer for Petticoat Junction) to create a series for that time slot, so Sommers created a show based on the 1950’s radio series Granby’s Green Acres, which starred Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet.
8. Some Real-Life Inspiration
The premise for the show – a wealthy city clicker leaving a lucrative job in the city to move to a farm – was actually taken from Jay Sommers’ life. “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid,” he said. “He wanted a farm in the worst way and he finally got one. I remember having to hoe potatoes. I hated it. I won’t even do the gardening at our home now, I was so resentful as a child.”
7. Where is Hooterville?
The name of the state where Hooterville was located was never mentioned in the show; however, during the first episode, Oliver told his wife Lisa that he had to fly to Chicago and change planes a few times in order to get to the town. In a different episode, Oliver said that the state capital of Springfield, Illinois, was only a four-hour drive away. It was assumed that because Paul Henning and his wife spent summers in Eldon, Missouri, near the train station, that Hooterville was probably located in Southern Mississippi.
6. The Rural Purge
During the show’s sixth season, Green Acres placed 34th out of 96 shows in the Neilson ratings. In spite of how well it was doing in its time slot, the show was cancelled in the spring of 1971 in what has become known as the “rural purge.” CBS’s sponsors were pressuring the network to have more urban-themed shows, so they cancelled all of their rural-themed shows to make room. Some of the shows that were also cancelled included The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mister Ed, Lassie, Petticoat Junction and Hee Haw.
Eddie Albert (who played Oliver Wendell Douglas) was only offered the part after Don Ameche turned it down. Marsha Hunt and Janet Blair had screen-tested for the Lisa Douglas role, but then Paul Henning decided to cast Eva Gabor, even though CBS warned him that no one would understand her thick Hungarian accent.
4. Eddie Albert’s Reluctance to Work in Television
Initially, Eddie Albert didn’t want to give up his movie career for television, which he believed was “geared to mediocrity.” He had turned down roles on My Three Sons and Mister Ed when his agent told him about the premise behind Green Acres. “I said, ‘Swell; that’s me. Everyone gets tired of the rat race. Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots. It’s basic. Sign me,’” he told TV Guide. “I knew it would be successful. Had to be. It’s about the atavistic urge, and people have been getting a charge out of that ever since Aristophanes wrote about the plebs and the city folk.”
3. The Inspiration for the Governor of Hooterville
The governor the Hooterville was based on the California governor at the time (and future president), Ronald Reagan. Reagan was a former actor, who ran festivals of his films to generate money for the state of California when he was governor.
2. A Deaf Actor
Hank Patterson – who played Fred Ziffel – was almost completely deaf when he took his role on Green Acres, but he was so popular with the rest of the cast, producers and fans that CBS had to keep him on the show. To get him to say his lines on cue, his scenes were shot with a dialogue coach lying on the floor, out of sight, who would tap him on the leg with a yardstick when he needed to say his lines.
1. Mary Grace Canfield’s Difficulties
Mary Grace Canfield – who played Ralph Monroe (Alf Monroe’s brother who was really a woman) – was constantly fighting with network execs over her character role because they were worried that people (especially men) might have some difficulty believing that a woman could be a blue collar worker.