‘Green Acres’: How the Costumes Came to Life on a Budget

by Will Shepard

Good shows are differentiated from great shows for several reasons. One of those reasons is the costumes that characters wear. If there are things that are slightly off, fans notice immediately. It is safe to say that Green Acres‘ wardrobe was excellent.

The success that Beverly Hillbillies had meant that CBS was greenlighting another series from Paul Henning. In the process of wanting another show, they were going to air the show without even seeing a pilot episode. This gave the producers the ability to have fun with the show, and it made for outstanding television. In the process, Nolan Miller was asked to work on Green Acres.

Before he passed away, Miller gave an interview. During the interview, he talks about the show’s costumes. Green Acres was unlike most shows that have a massive budget to create the perfect wardrobe for the actors. As Miller explains, the show had a small budget, so the costumes were a bit challenging.

The audio and video are not synced, so fair warning that you might get annoyed with the clip. It is unclear when the video was filmed, but Miller is still sharp when he remembers the show. At the very least, you can tell that the memories of Green Acres are fond ones.

Nolan Miller Talks About “Green Acres'” Costumes

“I had a phone call one day. Jean Louis had started this series [Green Acres] with Ava, but they were using his clothes. They were just getting from clothes from, I think, his collection probably. But, our budget was like $500 a show and he wasn’t interested even though Ava was friends with him.”

Imagine having the budget of a green-lit television show being so bad that you have to use your own clothes to make the show work. Well, Miller isn’t finished there. He continues to explain how they had to make the show work with relatively nothing.

“Ava had seen clothes somewhere, I’m not sure where I just can’t remember. She had seen my clothes and asked [the producers] to call me, and so I went to the studio. It was one of those things, that I was just starting out, so I was willing to do whatever I had to do. Because one week the feathers were on the hem, and the next week they were around her neck. I mean, we had to rob from Peter to pay Paul.”

Even here Miller isn’t done explaining the Green Acres predicament when it came to the budget. He says that the money restriction made getting creative hard.

“Literally there was no money and so I would go to a wholesale house and buy a basic negligee. And then, I would chop it up and redo it, put feathers on it and redesign it would work for her.”

While looking back on this is hilarious, during the making of Green Acres, this must have been brutal. Thankfully, though, Miller stuck with it and made some excellent costumes.