‘Petticoat Junction’ Star Linda Henning Remembered the ‘Toughest Day’ on the Set

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

A star from the classic TV series Petticoat Junction is recalling what she calls the “toughest day” on the CBS 1960s sitcom. Linda Henning, who played one of the Bradley daughters on the show, talks about the final days of Bea Benaderet. Benaderet played Kate Bradley, the daughter’s mom, opposite Henning, Lori Saunders, and Gunilla Hutton on the show.

“She had a tough time of it, but she was always a professional,” said Saunders about Benaderet’s fatal illness to Fox News. “Toward the end, we were shooting a scene and her hand was shaking. I put my hand over hers and we finished the scene that way.”

Henning Fondly Remembers ‘Petticoat Junction’ Co-Star Bea Benadaret

Petticoat Junction lasted two more seasons after Benaderet died. Kate Bradley, in the show’s storyline, was sent off to live with relatives. The show would have a note arriving that would be sent from Kate to Betty Jo, Henning’s character. There were emotional moments taking place while filming the show.

“The toughest day was when they had a letter written from Kate to Betty Jo,” Henning said. “They had recorded Bea reading it, and I just tried not to burst out into tears during the scene.” Henning also says that despite this loss, Petticoat Junction endures and the cast is loved. After Benaderet’s death, the show brought Lost in Space star June Lockhart on to play a role, too.

Her Father Paul Happens To Be The Creative Mind Behind That Show

If Henning’s last name sounds familiar to classic TV fans, then it should. Paul Henning, Linda’s father, was the mastermind behind not only Petticoat Junction but The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Two of the shows happened to center their activities around the mythical town of Hooterville. Cast members would gather at the General Store run by Sam Drucker, played by actor Frank Cady. He would attribute his acting success to his bald head.

These shows did do well in the ratings for CBS. The network, though, wanted to take a more serious position in its primetime schedule. This would lead the network to cancel Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, which starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. People have called this move the rural purge and Andy Griffith once talked about this.

“One of the things they believe is that Small Town U.S.A. is dying and disappearing from our country,” Griffith said in an interview. “They believe that television audiences are too sophisticated for the fact that they have watched television for a long time to be able to buy or even enjoy entertainment that such as Petticoat Junction or Beverly Hillbillies or our show.”