The Hee Haw cast featured a large range of actors, including already famous actors, up and coming actors, and even former Playboy Bunnies!
At the time that Hee Haw first aired, the most popular show on the network was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a comedy that featured popular music and pop culture. When Hee Haw aired on June 5th, 1969, the creators knew their show needed to be original enough to draw in new viewers, while also being similar enough to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In to compete.
Instead of focusing on pop culture and modern music, Hee Haw featured classic corn pone humor and country music. The rural backdrop of the show took place in the fictional “Kornfield Kounty” and drew in older viewers who were overwhelmed by the rapidly changing culture of the time. Despite its classic humor and family-friendly marketing, however, the show also featured several Playboy Bunnies, who often showed up in very little clothing.
Overall, the show was a huge success. After its initial season, it ran for 25 more seasons, and aired a total of 665 episodes until it eventually ended on December 27th, 1997.
In today’s video, we’re going to delve into the show’s many amazing cast members, and take a look at their contributions to the show, as well as what they’re up to today, Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to reveal to what happened to the Playboy Bunny Barbi Benton.
Buck Owens was one of the two hosts of Hee Haw. Alongside Roy Clark, Buck Owens hosted the show until 1986, when he decided to pursue other things in life. He first found his love of performing when he was a young boy, when he began performing in school plays during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. He then taught himself to play several different instruments, including drums, guitar, and mandolin.
He fronted the band Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, which landed 21 no. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts. They also became known for pioneering the Bakersfield genre of country. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and won countless accolades for his work.
After ending his work on Hee Haw, Buck Owens continued to make music, and was active until his death in 2006, when he suffered a heart attack.
Barbi Benton was a famous Playboy Bunny, and the girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, when she joined the cast of Hee Haw. She started her modeling career at age 16, and when she turned 18 years old, she was asked to appear on the show Playboy After Dark. She was originally only a small character, but Hugh Hefner soon became entranced by her. The two started dating, and she became the show’s co-host. She is also famous for convincing Hugh Hefner to purchase the Playboy Mansion in 1974.
Barbi Benton first appeared on Hee Haw in 1969, and remained on the show for a total of four seasons. She was often dressed in typical “farmer’s daughter” outfits, which were usually quite revealing. She wasn’t just a model and actress, however; she also worked as a songwriter, and recorded several albums in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, however, she settled down with a man named George Gradow, and Benton retired to take care of their two children.
Junior Samples joined the cast of Hee Haw when the show was first created. He curated a bumping personality, humorously messing up jokes and even forgetting lines. He was a hilarious and beloved part of the show, and provided a lot of comedic sketches. He and his wife, Grace Carrie Bolton, had five children, all of which appeared on the show at least once while it ran.
Junior Samples stayed on the show for fourteen years, but in 1983, he died of a heart attack when he was just 57 years old. The cast was dismayed by his death, and they all mourned him dearly.
The legendary singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn became the first guest star to ever appear on Hee Haw, and would soon become the most frequent guest star, as well. While not an official cast member, she co-hosted the show frequently, and made a lasting impact. She also helped to draw in more viewers, ensuring the show’s long-lasting success.
Not only is Loretta Lynn still alive today, but she’s continuing her career as a musician. She’s already worked in the music field for over six decades, but she shows no signs of stopping anytime soon! At age 89, Loretta Lynn hasn’t lost her passion for singing classic country and honky tonk.
However, her old age is catching up to her, and after suffering a stroke and then breaking her hip, Lynn had to stop touring in 2018. Still, she hasn’t stopped making music, and it’s unlikely she’ll quit her passion until the day she dies.
Roy Clark hosted Hee Haw alongside Buck Owens for the entirety of the show’s long run. He was a highly influential musician, and helped make the genre of country music popular in America. He first found fame on television after appearing in variety shows while performing as a guitarist and singer. He even debuted on the Tonight Show in 1963. He earned the coveted title of Entertainer of the Year not once but three times throughout his life, along with numerous other accolades.
After hosting Hee Haw with Buck Owens, Roy Clark continued to make music until his death in 2018, when he suffered pneumonia.
Roy Clark had a long and prolific life, but not all the cast members of Hee Haw were able to grow old and die peacefully. Make sure you stick around until the very end, because we’re going to reveal how one cast member was brutally murdered, alongside his wife. And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!
Anne Randall was the second Playboy Bunny to make her way into the cast of Hee Haw. She began her career as a teenager, when she became a regular on the show KPIX Dance Party. After that, she decided to pursue television more seriously, and appeared on a variety of shows, including The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, and Cannon. She was also a cast member of Hee Haw for two years.
After the 1970s, however, Randall decided she was done working in modelling and television, and married a man Dick Stewart. Now, at age 74, she lives a quiet life out of the public eye.
Louis Marshall Jones was known professionally as Grandpa Jones. The banjo player and country music singer was playing from a very young age, but became especially famous on Hee Haw. He was born into a family of ten children, and both of his parents were very musical. Naturally, he decided to get involved in music himself. He sang on radio shows throughout his teenage years. Surprisingly, he earned the name Grandpa Jones at a very young age. When he was just 22 years old, he was so grumpy in the mornings before performing radio shows that people began calling him Grandpa Jones. He later began performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and was later asked to join the cast of Hee Haw.
He died just a year after the show ended in 1997, at age 84.
Minnie Pearl was a country theatre, dance, and comedy performer who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for over five decades! She was born Sarah Colley, but created the character Minnie Pearl for her comedy routines. She was famous for her signature greeting, where she shouted “Well HOWdy! I’m jest so proud to be here!” and she’d finish off every show with “I love you so much it hurts!”
Minnie Pearl made her first television appearance on Ozark Jubilee, and was soon asked to appear on Hee Haw, as well. She stayed on the show until 1991, when she suffered a horrible stroke that ended her career. She spent the rest of her life in a nursing home, when famous country musicians and performers paid her frequent visits until her death in 1996.
She also battled aggressive breast cancer for several years, and became a spokeswoman for cancer research later in life, and the Minnie Pearl Cancer foundation was created to honor her after her death.
David “Stringbean” Akeman
David Akeman, also known as Stringbean, was one of the most beloved actors on Hee Haw. Like many of the other cast members of the show, he was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Stringbean had a varied career, and worked as a musician, singer-songwriter, actor, comedian, and even a semi professional baseball player! He balanced his music and his comedy well, letting audience members laugh at jokes while also wowing them with his banjo playing.
He also had one of the most memorable costumes on the show; he tucked a long nightgown into a short pair of pants, so that it looked as though he had very short legs and a very long torso.
Akeman performed for four years on Hee Haw, and would have continued to perform for many more. On the night of November 10th, 1973, however, tragedy struck. He and his wife had finished performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and returned to their lovely home in Tennessee. Only a few hours after returning home, however, burglars entered the house, and murdered both Akeman and his wife as they plundered their house.
The Hee Haw cast members appeared on the show long ago, and many of them died of old age. Still, a few of them are still alive and well today! Were you more surprised to learn that the legendary Loretta Lynn is still making music, or that former Playboy Bunny retired early to raise her children? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!