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The photo above could be used in a "Whatever Happened To ..." book because none of these actresses went on to much of a career either in television or films. Pat Woodell, left, was considered the most promising of the three, though Jeannine Riley, right, was busier when it came to work in prime time television shows.

Linda Kaye Henning (center) was the daughter of producer Paul Henning who had a talent for creating schlocky sitcoms, one of which was "Petticoat Junction," which managed to run for seven seasons on CBS. (Henning also created "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres.") Anyway, Linda Kaye Henning hung around the longest, making occasional TV appearances up until 2000. Check imdb.com and you'll see a movie credit for her in 2007. (You may also discover that Dennis Hopper, of all people, made a guest appearance on "Petticoat Junction" in 1964.)

The three actresses went on the road to publicize "Petticoat Junction" and stopped in Cleveland for an appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show," which is how I happened to interview them. I kept the photo, but cannot find any copy of the story I wrote.

Woodell left the series after two seasons and was replaced by Lori Saunders; Riley did the same, but her replacement, Gunilla Hutton, lasted only one year before she was replaced by Meredith MacRae, daughter of Gordon and Sheila MacRae. And if there was such a thing as a standout on this show, it was Meredith MacRae, whose life, tragically, was cut short by brain cancer in 2000. She was 56 years old.

"Petticoat Junction" was set, I think, in Arkansas at a place called the Shady Rest Hotel, located halfway between the tiny towns of Pixley and Hooterville. The actresses played sisters named Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo and Billie Jo, which tells you more than you need to know about the show, which in the beginning did star two very talented performers, Bea Benaderet, as the girls' mother and proprietor of the hotel, and character actor Edgar Buchanan, as Uncle Joe. Benaderet died during the show's run and was replaced by June Lockhart, who was cast in a different role, a hotel resident who became a mother figure for the sisters.

Because it ran seven season, "Petticoat Junction" was regarded as a hit, but while I've enjoyed a lot of bad television shows, I couldn't tolerate this one. However, I did enjoy meeting those three actresses. And I've got to figure Woodell's early retirement from acting meant she had found other things that interested her more. She also was a singer who made at least one album. She died in September, 2015.

As of September 22, 2016, the other four actresses who played the daughters in this series were still with us, but none was active in television or films.

Riley, born in 1940, was the oldest of those who played Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo or Billie Jo. She also appeared in a short-lived comedy series called "Dusty's Trail" (1973-74), and before that spent two years on "Hee-Haw."

Lori Saunders, born in 1941, also appeared in "Dusty's Trail." Her last screen credit was for a film called "Captive" in 1980. She and Bernard Sandler, have been married 55 years.

Gunilla Hutton, born in 1944, faded from view after appearing in an episode of "Fantasy Island" in 1981.

Linda Kaye Henning, also born in 1944, married Ashby Adams in 1994, and, as mentioned earlier, has the most recent screen credit, a film short called "Wrangling Coach Rankin," in 2007.

In 1963, a few weeks before the "Petticoat" daughter visited Cleveland I had a phone interview with Benaderet, who was a well-known, highly respected actress perhaps more famous for her work on radio than on television, though she had established herself pretty well on the new medium, only to have her life cut short by illness. The story that came out of that interview may be hiding in a box in our garage attic, but so far I've been unable to find it.

 

 

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Herb Alpert Richard Egan George Montgomery
Dana Andrews Jack Elam Joanna Moore
John Astin Linda Evans Mary Tyler Moore
Frankie Avalon Pat Finley Ozzie and Harriet Nelson
Barbara Barrie Eric Fleming Hugh O'Brian
Bill Bixby Peter Fonda Pat O'Brien
George Burns Anthony Franciosa Gene Pitney
Michael Callan Annette Funicello Martha Raye
Richard Chamberlain Zsa Zsa Gabor Della Reese
Leslie Charleson Beverly Garland Carl Reiner
Petula Clark Jackie Gleason Barbara Rush
Dabney Coleman Merv Griffin Robert Ryan
Robert Conrad Mark Harman Henry Silva
Bill Cosby Patricia Harty Julie Sommars
Joseph Cotten Marty Ingels Barbra Streisand
Bob Crane Jack Jones The Three Stooges
Richard Crenna Jack Kelly The Supremes
Ken Curtis Dave Ketchum Dick Van Dyke
Bill Dana Sue Ane Langdon Jerry Van Dyke
Bobby Darin Sheldon Leonard Robert Vaughn
Sammy Davis Jr. Jack Lord Clint Walker
Richard Deacon George Maharis Ray Walston
Bob Denver Jackie Mason Betty White
James Drury Raymond Massey Andy Williams
  Martin Milner Henry Winkler
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