‘Petticoat Junction’: The Real-Life Missouri Hotel That Inspired the ’60s Sitcom

by Joe Rutland
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Viewers who watch “The Beverly Hillbillies” probably have seen “Petticoat Junction.” What, though, helped create the Shady Rest Hotel?

It turns out that the show used a Missouri hotel as inspiration. Show creator Paul Henning, who also had “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres” on CBS at the same time, needed to see something that would represent his idea.

The Burris Hotel in Eldon, Mo., provided the perfect backdrop, according to Classic Country Music. In real life, Henning’s parents were innkeepers at The Burris Hotel. So he managed to get these wild, crazy tales from a first-hand experience. Alice Burris, Henning’s mother-in-law, recalled these events.

Paul Henning Uses Hotel Ideas On ‘Petticoat Junction’

Henning would take them, put a spin on them to fit “Petticoat Junction,” and end up having a successful seven-season run on CBS.

Remember how many interesting people would be around the Shady Rest? You had Kate Bradley, played by Bea Benadaret until her untimely death. Actress June Lockhart, fresh off her outer-space adventures on “Lost In Space,” filled her spot until the show’s cancellation. Character actor Edgar Buchanan sat out front in a rocking chair, fulfilling his duties as Uncle Joe. Of course, the Bradley girls – Bobbie Jo, Billie Jo, and Betty Jo – had their roles, too.

Then you had those other characters in the fictional town of Hooterville, like general store owner Sam Drucker, who always found their place in “Petticoat Junction.”

Meanwhile, you had the Hooterville Cannonball train with conductor Floyd Smoot stopping by and sharing his wit with Drucker and others.

‘Junction’ Becomes One Of Three Henning Shows On CBS

You have to give it to Henning and his creativity.

During one season, he cross-promoted “The Beverly Hillbillies” on “Petticoat Junction” by having the Clampett clan visit Hooterville.

He also tied “Green Acres” and its cast around living near Hooterville, too.

If you watch enough episodes (and they are all out there in syndication), then you’ll see people reappear on “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres” a lot.

‘Petticoat Junction’ Joins ‘Rural’ TV Shows Getting Cut

Henning had “Green Acres,” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” all in solid ratings’ situations in the Neilsen’s. “Petticoat Junction” lost a bit of its luster after Benadaret’s death. These other two shows were performing well but CBS, as the decade moved from the 1960s into the 1970s, decided to shift its programming. ABC and NBC followed suit, too.

What happened? The “rural” humor started getting slashed.

Henning saw his shows getting cut from CBS’s lineup. Henning brought in lots of ad revenue for the network. It didn’t matter. CBS wanted a younger audience watching its shows, so they filled their lineup with more cop shows and sitcoms like “All In The Family.”

The sweet innocence of Henning’s shows was not going to cut it on CBS. Therefore, they got the boot. As pointed out earlier, his shows went into TV syndication land and continue to be shown all these years later. Rural-type shows still found their way on network TV, but they lacked the humor and innocence of Henning’s programs.

“Petticoat Junction” still draws viewers as new generations learn about Kate, Uncle Joe, and everyone else.

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