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How Each Petticoat Junction Cast Member Died

Petticoat Junction was a classic sitcom that aired throughout the late 60s. It was filled with lovable characters, including the main family members and the wacky inhabitants of the town around them.

There were several changes to the Petticoat Junction cast throughout its runtime. The alterations didn’t always go over well with fans, but they weren’t enough to stop them from coming back.

Today, syndication has introduced Petticoat Junction to a new generation.

Like and subscribe to FactsVerse for more on this iconic Western sitcom. Watch our video to learn how each Petticoat Junction cast member died and how the surviving members carried on after the show ended.

Edgar Buchanan

Edgar Buchanan was born on March 20, 1903. He quit his successful career in dentistry in 1939 at the age of 36. He wanted to give acting a try and, when it went well, he signed his practice over to his wife.

Edgar appeared in over 100 films and even got to play a dentist in the 1941 film Texas. He’s better known for his TV roles, including Hopalong Cassidy in 1952 and Judge Roy Bean in 1955. He also played old Uncle Joe Carson on Petticoat Junction and appeared in 16 episodes of Green Acres.

He earned the lead role in the 1971 series Cade’s County, and his final acting role was in the 1974 film Benji.

Edgar Buchannan died after suffering a stroke on April 4,1979 at the age of 76.

Bea Benaderet

Bea Benaderet was born on April 4, 1906. She began acting in 1940 and hit her stride in 1943. By then, she’d become the main female voice actress for Warner Brothers’ supporting characters. You’ll hear her in various Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts. She also voiced Betty Rubble on The Flinstones.

Bea’s career got another boost when she befriended Paul Henning in the late 40s. He was a scriptwriter on the radio show Burns & Allen and helped her get a role on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show for almost 300 episodes.

Bea was even Lucile Ball’s first choice for the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy but couldn’t take the part because of contract disputes. She did guest-star in a first-season episode entitled Lucy Plays Cupid.

Bea Benaderet played Kate in Petticoat Junction for several years until her death from lung cancer on October 13,1968, at the age of 62. She was replaced by June Lockhart, but ratings declined throughout the show’s final 2 seasons.

Frank Cady

Frank Cady was born on September 8, 1915. He began acting in 1947, and his big break came with his role as Doc Williams on 78 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

Frank played general store owner Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction. He was also working on Paul Henning’s other shows Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies, making him the only actor to have a regular role on 3 sitcoms at the same time.

His final acting performance was in Return to Green Acres in 1990. He lived his last days enjoying life traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Frank Cady died at the age of 96 on June 8, 2012.

 Pat Woodell

Pat Woodell was born on July 12, 19944 in Winthrop, Massachusetts. She played Bobbie Jo in Seasons 1 and 2 of Petticoat Junction. They also used her musical talents in the show. She recorded a song called The Ladybugs that was a play on the style of The Beatles.

Pat eventually left to pursue a music career. She toured with Jack Benny and recorded an album but never became as successful as a singer as she had as an actress.

Pat Woodell died at the age of 71 on September 29, 2015, after a decades-long fight with breast cancer.

Meredith MacRae

Meredith MacRae was born on May 30, 1944, in Houston, Texas. She was the final actress to portray Billie Jo on Petticoat Junction. Her true big break came in 1963 when she earned the role of Sally Ann Morrison on My Three Sons.

She went on to have a fruitful career in the 70s and 80s and was a frequent contestant on game shows like Hollywood Squares and Match Game. She even hosted a talk show called Mid-Morning Los Angeles in the 80s and won an Emmy for it.

Meredith was married 3 times. Her relationship with Richard Berger lasted from 1965-1967. She was then married to Greg Mullavey from 1969-1987. Her final relationship was with Phil Neal, and they were married from 1995 to the day of her death.

Meredith MacRae died at home in Manhattan Beach, California on July 14, 2000, at the age of 56.

Rufe Davis

Rufe Davidson was born on December 2, 1908, in Vinson, Oklahoma.

His career began in the 30s and 40s. He played Floyd Smoo on Petticoat Junction for 5 years and then returned as a guest star in the show’s final year.

Rufe Davis died of unknown causes on December 13, 1974, at the age of 66.

Smiley Burnette

Lester Alvin Burnett was born on March 18, 1911, in Summum, Illinois.

After graduating high school, he joined a local radio station and worked in Vaudeville shows. His friendship with Gene Autry also earned him a spot on the radio show “The National Barn Dance.” The two also worked together in the 1934 film Old Santa Fe and 80 other westerns.

Smiley’s true passion was music and, while he could play over 100 instruments, he never learned to read or write music. Despite this hurdle, he created over 300 songs, many of which he sang in Western films.

Smiley earned the distinction of being the first supporting actor to appear on the Top Ten Western money-maker list multiple times. He was also known for his trademark white horse with a black circle around one eye.

Smiley married Dallas MacDonell on October 25, 1936. They were married until his death and adopted 4 children; Stephen, Linda, Brian, and Carolyn.

Smiley partially retired from acting in 1953 when the age of Western domination began to end. He bought a drive-in restaurant in Escondido, California called the Checkered Shirt in the ’60s. He also made occasional guest appearances on TV, including Ozark Jubilee in 1959. His last performance was as Charlie Pratt the railroad engineer on Seasons 1-4 as one of the cast of Petticoat Junction from 1963-1967.

Smiley Burnett died of leukemia at the age of 55 on February 16, 1967. He received several posthumous honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 22, 1986, and inductions into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971, Western Music Association in 1998, and Cowton Society of Western Music Hall of Fame on May 5, 2012.

Mike Minor

Michael Tone Fedderson was born on December 7, 1940, in San Francisco, California. He was the son of TV producer Don Fedderson and attended both the University High School in LA and the Brown Military Academy in San Diego.

Mike started taking voice lessons at the age of 14 and got his first professional singing job at Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills. His first TV appearances included The Donald O’Connor Show in 1954 and The Joey Bishop Show in 1961. He earned the role of Steve Elliot as one of the cast of Petticoat Junction in 1963.

Mike’s first wife was Monyeen Rae Martini. They had 1 child and were married from July 22, 1961, to May of 1966. He married his co-star Linda Henning in September of 1968. They were married for 5 years until 1973. His last relationship was with Marilyn Minor who he married in 1981 and stayed with until his death.

Mike appeared on soap operas, including As the World Turns in 1956, All My Children in 1970, and Another World in 1964. He also earned a role on Broadway in 1999 playing Inspector James Ascher in A Perfect Crime at the Duffy Theatre.

Mke Minor died at the age of 76 on January 28, 2016, in New York City.

Byron Foulger

Byron Foulger was born on August 27, 1899, in Odgen, Utah and one of the cast of petticoat junction.

He graduated from the University of Utah then began performing with local community theaters and stock and repository companies. He met his wife Dorothy Adams in one of the companies. They had 2 children, including actress Rachel Ames.

Byron’s Broadway debut came in a 1920 production of Medea. He starred in other productions including The Trial of Joan of Arc, Mr. Faust, and Candida. He then acted and directed at the Pasadena Playhouse before moving with his wife to Los Angeles.

The couple appeared in hundreds of films in the 30s and 40s. Byron became part of the Preston Sturges’ company of players and appeared in 5 classic films, including The Great McGinty in 1940, Sullivan’s Travels in 1941, The Palm Beach Story in 1942, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek in 1943, and The Great Moment in 1944. He also starred in 5 movies that were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, including Since You Went Away in 1944, The Human Comedy in 1943, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939, You Can’t Take It With You in 1938, and Test Pilot in 1938.

He focused on TV in the 50s and 60s, and his final role was as train conductor Wendell Gibbs on Petticoat Junction.

Byron Foulger died on April 4, 1970, of a heart condition at the age of 71.. Ironically, it was the same day that the finale of Petticoat Junction aired.

Like and subscribe to FactsVerse for more on the stars of your favorite Western sitcoms. Keep watching to learn what the surviving Petticoat Junction cast members are doing today.

Linda Henning

Linda Henning was born on September 16, 1944. Her first role was in an episode of Mister Ed in 1962. She appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies that same year and earned the role of Betty Jo as one of the cast of Petticoat Junction in 1963. She and her TV husband Mike Minor were married for 5 years.

Linda guest-starred on several other major shows, including 2 episodes of Mork and Mindy in 1979 and stints on Happy Days in 1977 and 1984. She essentially retired from acting after 5 episodes on the show Sliders in 2000.

Linda Henning is currently 76 years old and enjoying life with her husband.

Lori Saunders

Lori Saunders was born on October 4, 1941, in Kansas City, Missouri. Her first acting role came in 1960 where she appeared in 5 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She also earned a regular spot on Dusty’s Trail in 1973.

Lori took over for Pat Woodell as Bobbie Jo as one of the cast of Petticoat Junction. She made the character a bit more scatterbrained but also added humor.

Lori Saunders is currently 79 years old and living in Southern California with her husband Bernard Sandler and their two children Stacy and Ronald. She uses her free time to pursue hobbies such as photography, sculpture, and painting.

Jeannine Riley

Jeannine Riley was born on October 1, 1940, in Fresno, California. She played Billie Jo on Petticoat Junction during Seasons 1 and 2, winning out over 300 competitors.

Her other notable roles include Dusty’s Trail and her final performance as the landlady in the 1991 film Timebomb.

Jeannine Riley is 80 years old and thriving. She released a book called The Bolder Woman: It’s About Time.

Gunilla Hutton

Gunilla Hutton was born on May 4, 1954, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

She played Billie Jo in Season 3 of Petticoat Junction. Gunilla Hutton went on to earn a regular role as Nurse Goodbody in the series Hee Haw until 1992.

She showed off her singing ability on that show and released several singles, including You Can Say the Prettiest Things Sometimes in 1972, Chowchilla Dust in 1973, and You’re Gonna Get Loved in 1974.

Gunilla appeared in a 2015 MeTV commercial at the age of 75 to promote Petticoat Junction reruns with Linda Henning and Lori Saunders.

Gunilla’s life wasn’t free from controversy. She had an affair with Nat King Cole until he divorced his wife Maria and ended it with her as well.

Gunilla is currently in her late 70s and has a daughter named Amber.

June Lockhart

June Lockhart was born on June 25, 1925, in New York City to actors Gene and Kathleen Lockhart. She began acting at the age of 8 playing Mimsey in a production of Peter Ibbetson at the Metropolitan Opera.

The family moved to California in the 30s and enjoyed a strong film career. June’s first on-screen role was in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. She appeared in over 12 movies from then until 1947 when she earned her first Broadway role in For Love or Money. It earned her a standing ovation and critical acclaim.

June has won several awards,, including a Tony, Donaldson Award, Theater World Award, and an Associated Press citation for Woman of the Year for Drama. She’s also received 4 stars on the Hollywood Walks of Fame, 2 for film and 2 for television.

Her TV roles include Lassie in 1954, Lost in Space in 1965, and as one of the cast of Petticoat Junction.

June was married to John Francis Malone from January 1951-April 1 1959, and they had 2 children, Anne and Lizabeth.  She married John Carl Lindsay in April of 1959 and they divorced in October of 1970.

Jonathan Daly

Jonathan Daly was born on January 14, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois.

He is an actor and writer known for his work on CPO Sharkey in 1976, Adams of Eagle Lake in 1975, and became a cast of Petticoat Junction in 1963. He also did military talk shows and was part of the comedy team Delo and Daly with Ken Dolo of the Larence Welk Show throughout the 60s.

Jonathan is currently 79 years old. His 2 children Rad and Jules Daly also became actors.

Petticoat Junction was a classic Western that lives on in syndication. Many of its memorable cast members have passed, but others live on to keep its memory alive.

Which of these Petticoat Junction cast stories did you find the most interesting? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe to FactsVerse for more on the best syndicated sitcoms.

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