Green Acres… WAS Definitely the Place to Be!
Green Acres was one of those wacky television sitcoms that surfaced in the '60s. It was a show that chronicled the day to day lives of a wealthy New York City Lawyer, Oliver Douglas and his beautiful wife, turned farmers, seemingly overnight. They gave up their luxurious, Park Avenue lifestyle to move to the country for a simpler life; they just had no idea what they were in for.
Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, as Oliver and Lisa Douglas, were the perfect examples of the jet-setter lifestyle; until they gave it all up and moved to Hooterville, that is.
The Beverly Hillbillies, another popular television sitcom in the '60s, had a similar storyline, only on the flip side. The Clampett family was a story of ‘rags to riches,’ whereas the Douglas' story was one of ‘riches to rags.’ Following the great success of The Beverly Hillbillies, producers wanted to take a stab at portraying what it would be like to have it all and give it up for the simple life. Who in their right mind would do that?
Green Acres was actually a spin-off of a then-popular 1950s radio program called, Granby’s Green Acres.
Granby’s Green Acres radio program starred Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet. They, like the Douglas’, were a couple of city slickers, turned country bumpkins.
Oliver Douglas was tired of the rat race of city life and wanted something simpler. Lisa Douglas, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. Being the dutiful wife, she followed her beloved husband and his dream to Hooterville.
Oliver Douglas purchased his broken-down farm in Hooterville, sight unseen.
Green Acres provided many comical punchlines and wacky scenarios. The supporting cast was stellar, which included Pat Buttram, as Mr. Haney, Tom Lester as Eb Dawson, Alvy Moore as Hank Kimball, Frank Cady as Sam Drucker, Hank Patterson as Fred Ziffel, Barbara Pepper as Doris Ziffel (1965-1968), Fran Ryan as Doris Ziffel (1969 to 1971) and (occasionally) Eleanor Audley as Eunice Douglas, Oliver’s mother.
The popular show had everything from high fashion to a small-town politician to a pig that watched television, understood English and was the makeshift child of the Ziffels. Arnold, by the way, even ran for President!
If you remember Green Acres, I think it is safe to say that you may have known some of these facts. Below are some facts you may not have known.
- Although Green Acres was a popular show, seemingly based on a ridiculous premise, it was based on the real-life inspiration of its creator, Jay Sommers. He was quoted as saying, “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid, 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.”
- For both Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, there was some truth/reality paralleling the characters they portrayed and their real lives. Eva Gabor wasn’t quite as naïve as she portrayed her character to be but was once quoted as saying that feathers didn’t come from birds!
- The show never revealed just where on the map Hooterville was. There were references to it being somewhere near Chicago but nothing firm was ever discovered. Judging by the different accents of the characters, it could have been just about anywhere… maybe that was the intent.
- Eva Gabor reportedly couldn’t figure out how she started with only 2 rabbits and ended up with so many more!
- In real life, Eva Gabor was an animal lover and surrounded herself with furry little critters that she loved. She was said to have owned dogs, cats, birds, chickens and rabbits. Similarly, Lisa Douglas loved her furry little friends as well.
- Eddie Albert was an avid environmentalist and found it disturbing that Gabor’s character wore feathers and furs on the program. He was afraid that viewers would mimic her style leading to the unnecessary killing of animals to sport her look.
- Eddie Albert turned the front yard of his home into a cornfield. He also had a greenhouse in his backyard where he grew all of his own organic vegetables.
- The Green Acres theme song was written by Vic Mizzy, who also wrote the theme song to The Addams Family.
- The cast of Green Acres never felt the need to ad lib because the script was so well written. They never felt as if they could have improved it.
- Green Acres was one of President Eisenhower’s favorite television shows. He loved the show so much that he allowed one of his employee’s pet pig, also named Arnold, to roam around his home and relax on the furniture.
Eventually, in the early '70s, television programming was attempting to move away from the “rural” portrayals of families and, sadly the show was canceled. Gone but not forgotten, for sure!
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