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What Happened to Lori Saunders From Petticoat Junction?

Lori Saunders is an actress that fans of classic television might recognize for her time playing the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley on the 1960s series Petticoat Junction. Although Lori didn’t originate the role, she made it her own once she took it over from original actress Pat Woodell. Though Lori remains best known for her work on Petticoat Junction to this day, she performed in many other works before retiring from acting in 1980. Nowadays, the actress spends most of her time meditating and practicing a vegan lifestyle alongside her longtime husband. Join Facts Verse as we explore what happened to Lori Saunders from Petticoat Junction.

Lori Saunders’ Early Life

Lori Saunders was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 4, 1941. At the time of her birth, the future star was given the name of Linda Marie Hines. As she began to become famous later in life, Lori would change her name a couple of times in order to stand out. However, until just after her coming of age, Lori went by her original first and last name. Young Lori began showing an interest in becoming a star early on, and she secured the help of an acting coach during her teenage years. In 1960, when Lori was only 19 years old, she made her debut on television acting in a handful of episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The series had been airing since 1952 and was incredibly popular.

Not long after entering into her new career as a professional actress, Lori came up with her first stage name. Instead of Linda Marie Hines, she wanted to be known as Linda Saunders. Lori would make a name for herself as Linda Saunders by acting in numerous commercials. It has been suggested that Lori acted in over 100 commercials during her early career, which made her a ubiquitous face on the television. Soon enough, she’d start getting more real acting roles as a result of this increased exposure.

After appearing all over television, Lori Saunders started appearing in films during the mid-1960s. Though these films were largely unremarkable B pictures, it was still work! Some of the B movies that Lori appeared in around the time include The Girls on the Beach and Mara of the Wilderness, both of which were released in 1965. In 1966, she could be seen performing in a film by the name of Blood Bath. This film also happened to feature Adam West, who would premiere as the titular character on the series Batman the very same year.

How Lori Got Cast on Petticoat Junction

As Lori flirted with becoming a star on the big screen, she continued performing on television. She could be seen on the 1963 series Burke’s Law, but it would be that same year’s Petticoat Junction that would eventually go on to give Lori the role that she continues to be remembered best for to this day. Though Petticoat Junction came on the air in 1963, it wouldn’t be until a few years later that Lori would be brought onto the series. The series was a follow-up project from Beverly Hillbillies creator Paul Henning. It revolved around the owners of the Shady Rest Hotel, which was located in the fictional town of Hooterville. These owners were lead character Kate Bradley and her three daughters.

Kate Bradley’s three daughters on Petticoat Junction were Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty. The character of Bobbie Jo was originally played by an actress named Pat Woodell, who ended up becoming pretty famous as a result of her work on the series. Pat Woodell become so famous from her Petticoat Junction exposure, in fact, that she decided that she didn’t need the show anymore. Pat left Petticoat Junction after only a few seasons, and that meant that someone else had to be brought on to play Bobbie Jo.

The producers tried out many girls to replace Pat Woodell as the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction, and the person that they ended up deciding on was Lori Saunders. At the time, Lori was still going by the name of Linda Saunders. Since there was already another actress named Linda on the series, the producers asked Lori if she wouldn’t mind coming up with a new name yet again. Thus, Lori finally decided upon her ultimate stage name, with that ultimate stage name being Lori Saunders.

Lori debuted on Petticoat Junction in the role of Bobbie Jo Bradley in 1965, and audiences welcomed the replacement actress with open arms. Not long after, Lori and some of the other girls from the series would start a musical act dubbed the Girls from Petticoat Junction. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Lori Started Singing with the Other Petticoat Junction Girls

After leaving Petticoat Junction behind, originating Bobbie Jo Bradley actress Pat Woodell went on to try her hand at a professional singing career. This is quite the coincidence, as Lori Saunders’ time as her replacement actress on the series would see her dabbling in a professional singing career herself. Not long after Lori was hired onto the series, she and the two other actresses that played the Bradley daughters on the show began singing as a trio that went by the decidedly uninspired name of the Girl from Petticoat Junction.

Besides Lori Saunders, the two other actress that formed the Girls from Petticoat Junction were Linda Henning and Meredith MacRae, who played Lori’s on-screen siblings on the series. The three actresses found some moderate success in real life as a result of performing as the Girls from Petticoat Junction. They performed in nightclubs, and even made a memorable appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The girls also sometimes performed their songs on Petticoat Junction itself, with the characters of the Bradley sisters forming an in-universe band by the name of the Hooterville Honeys.

Lori Saunders went on to portray the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley for 147 episodes of Petticoat Junction in total. However, she was also given the opportunity to play the character of Bobbie Jo on a few other related series! As we’ve already established, The Beverly Hillbillies creator Paul Henning created Petticoat Junction with the intention of the latter series being a spiritual successful of sorts to the former. The two shows ended up crossing over, with Lori portraying the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley in a handful of episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. Lori also got to play the role in a few episodes of the series Green Acres, which was a spin-off of Petticoat Junction. Though Lori Saunders wasn’t the first actress to play the character of Bobbie Jo, she is the actress that has portrayed the character the most.

In addition to playing the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley in 7 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Lori Saunders also played a completely different character during the final season of the show. During The Beverly Hillbillies last season, Lori could be seen playing the character of Betty Gordon, who was one of the secretaries of Mr. Drysdale.

Lori Worked with Another Successful Creator

In 1973, Lori Saunders began playing the role of Betsy McGuire on the television series Dusty’s Trail. This was another show that was created by an established creator to capitalize on the success of a prior series. This time, the creator was Sherwood Schwartz, and the series that he was attempting to capitalize on was Gilligan’s Island. However, Dusty’s Trail ended up being far less successful at capturing the tone of the series that inspired it than Petticoat Junction was. While Petticoat Junction proved nearly as successful as The Beverly Hillbillies, Dusty’s Trail only lasted for one season. According to Sherwood himself, the show was simply Gilligan’s Island in the West.

Though Dusty’s Trail featured Gilligan’s Island’s Bob Denver returning to play the male lead, it still failed to find success. The show only lasted for one season, which was 26 episodes long. The 1970s also saw Lori Saunders continue to perform in B movies, with some of the low-budget theatrical fair that the star appeared in during the time including 1971’s Head On and 1973’s So Sad About Gloria. In 1980, Lori decided to retire from acting after appearing in the film Captive, which was released that year.

Where Is Lori Saunders Today?

After leaving the entertainment industry behind, Lori Saunders decided to dedicate herself to other pursuits. The former actress has been married to her first and only husband since 1961, with that husband being Bernard Sandler. The two have a couple of children, and live happily together in Montecito, California. Though Lori Saunders isn’t the most famous face there ever was, she has plenty of money in the bank. It seems her net worth is $3 million.

Lori has things she’s more passionate about than acting nowadays, including her creative outlets and her spirituality. Lori likes to paint, take photographs, and sculpt. She’s also a devoted animal-rights activist and longtime vegan. Her work in the field of animal rights has seen her become involved with numerous charities, and she also like to spend her free time meditating. Lori is now 80 years old, and it seems that she’s doing pretty well for herself since retiring!

Lori Saunders retired from acting in 1980, and she remains best known for her time playing the character of Bobbie Jo Bradley on the hit 1960s television series Petticoat Junction. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Lori Saunders had to change her name to get her part on Petticoat Junction, and that her and some of the other actresses from the show formed a musical group? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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