Based on the stories told to Paul Henning by his wife, who had spent summers in Eldon, Missouri, at a small hotel located near the train station.
The dog on the show was simply named "Dog". While the dog's name was Higgins (one episode was called "Higgins Come Home"), the name was never mentioned by any characters. His last acting role was as the title character in the movie Benji (1974), which was also Edgar Buchanan's last movie.
Although Meredith MacRae replaced Gunilla Hutton at the beginning of the '66-'67 season, in the opening credits' long shot of the Bradley girls coming down from the water tower, it's still Gunilla who appears, which was never corrected during the next four years.
During the run of this show, Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) was the engineer of the Cannonball, and Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis) was the conductor. Burnette died during the fourth season, and Floyd took over Charley's duties as engineer, as well as continuing his own duties as conductor.
During the first two years Pat Woodell played Bobbie Jo as a singing bookworm while Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley) was a flirty playgirl. By the end of the run with different actresses, the characters were almost reversed, with Lori Saunders Bobbie Jo as a fun-loving, somewhat man-crazy ditz and Meredith MacRae playing Billie Jo as a quiet girl in search of a singing career.
Set in the same town as Green Acres (1965). Characters from that series often appeared on this one. The series was also linked to The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and the two shows occasionally crossed over. It should be noted that up until Kate Bradley's last few appearances at the beginning of season six, not once was there ever a connection to The Beverly Hillbillies even though Bea Benaderet had played Cousin Pearl Bodine during the latter's first and sixth seasons. Despite this, in a 1968 episode of Petticoat (#175 'Granny, the Baby Expert'), Granny comes to Hooterville to tend to Betty Jo and Steve's baby. Prior to her visit, she reminds Jed that he is related to Kate through Pearl and then later when she arrives at the Shady Rest she mistakes Uncle Joe for Kate and says "They's right about you Kate, you and Cousin Pearl are lookalikes."
The marriage of Betty Jo and Steve coincided with the real life marriage of Linda Henning, who played Betty Jo, to Mike Minor, who played Steve.
To pick the three Bradley girls, Paul Henning interviewed 1,500 women. At the suggestion of Bea Benaderet, one of the girls he picked was his daughter, Linda Henning.
Christmas episode from season 1 and season 4 are the same scripts with the exception that it has been colorized, and the characters of Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo are played by different actresses. They also added the character of Steve Elliott in season 4.
Sharon Tate originally landed the role of eldest sister Billie Jo. Apart from some test film and publicity pictures, she never filmed the part. Although some sources said Tate lacked experience to play the role, the truth was that earlier she had posed nude for some photos, which would eventually be published in Playboy magazine. The show's chief sponsor was to be Ivory Soap and they couldn't risk the chance of losing their sponsor if word got out. She was immediately replaced by Jeannine Riley, who was actually a perfect knockout "Daisy Mae" type to play the flirtatious Billie Jo. The irony of it all is that Ivory Soap was later embarrassed a few years later when their major spokes model Marilyn Chambers launched a successful career in adult porn.
When Bea Benaderet became ill with cancer and was forced to leave the series, her absence was explained by having Kate go away to visit her sister. Rosemary DeCamp was brought in as a temporary replacement, to play the Bradley girls' Aunt Helen. Benaderet only managed to return twice on the show after her departure. Following her death in October, 1968, June Lockhart was brought in as a surrogate mother figure and lady M.D. who sets up practice at the Shady Rest Hotel. Benaderet's anchoring presence was missed by the public, however, and the show lasted only two more seasons (1968-1970).
The only members of the cast to remain with the series throughout its entire run were Edgar Buchanan, Frank Cady and Linda Henning.
The first two seasons of B&W episodes, featuring Jeannine Riley and Pat Woodell as Billie and Bobbie Jo, are highly regarded and coveted by fans, as they have rarely been in syndication. Ironically these are also the only episodes released on DVD, as the color episodes have yet to be released in that format.
The town of Pixley, at one end of the Cannonball's route, was named for Pixley, California. A number of location shots were filmed in the real Pixley.
Seasons 1 & 2 are airing on Retro TV at this time (2015) in the U.S. Unfortunately all of the opening, background, & closing music are gone because they trying to shorten content for more commercials. In some cases dialog is not heard.. Also for those that want to know the lyrics here they are. Note, these are the full lyrics as written by Flatt and Scruggs. The T.V. show used a short version. Come ride the little train, that is rolling down the tracks, to the junction. Forget about your cares, it is time to relax, at the junction. Lotsa curves, you bet. Even more, when you get, to the junction. Petticoat Junction. There's a little hotel, called the Shady Rest, at the junction. Petticoat Junction. It is run by Kate, come and be her guest, at the junction. Petticoat Junction. And that's Uncle Joe, he's a movin' kind of slow, at the junction, Petticoat Junction (this is where the TV version ends). When they hear the dinner bell, from the Shady Rest Hotel, at the junction. Folks will walk a country mile, for that chicken country-style, at the junction, But the dishes, to observe, are those pretty gals, who serve, at the junction,. Petticoat Junction.
In seasons 1 and 2 (the black and white years) the Cannonball showed the number 3 on its front plate. In all the other seasons (shot in color) the number is 8.
Series lead Bea Benaderet, a heavy smoker in real life, died of lung cancer during the show's run.
In the birth order of the Bradley girls Billie Jo was older than Bobbie Jo. However, Meredith MacRae, who took over the role of Billie Jo from Gunilla Hutton in season four, was actually three years younger than Lori Saunders who replaced Pat Woodell in season three as middle sister Bobbie Jo. In fact, Saunders was three years older than Hutton as well. Also, Linda Henning who played youngest daughter Betty Jo was the same age as Woodell, MacRae and Hutton.
One of the first shows to get cancelled because of the infamous "rural purge" in the early 70's, meaning any shows that the network felt appealed to rural settings or older demographics. Green Acres, Mayberry RFD, and Gomer Pyle are some other examples of shows that also got the ax because of the purge.
The first two Billie Jo Bradleys, Jeannine Riley and Gunilla Hutton went on to join the cast of Hee Haw (1969).
Gunilla Hutton, who played the second Billie Jo, was rumored to be a longtime mistress to famous singer Nat 'King' Cole.
Petticoat Junction (1963) came about after the phenomenal success of Paul Henning's series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962). The president of CBS, Jim Aubrey, said he wanted "another Paul Henning show." The idea for the series was triggered by Paul's wife Ruth Henning whose grandparents owned a hotel in a little small town in Missouri.
Gunilla Hutton, during her one-season run, developed a serious case of hepatitis and was absent from a number of episodes that year. She left the show after other opportunities in London opened up for her.
The real "Cannonball" train was operated on the Sierra Railroad, based in Jamestown, California. The steam locomotive used was 4-6-0 (ten-wheeler) #3, which has the distinction of appearing in more movies than any other locomotive. Its first sound film appearance was in 1929 with Gary Cooper in The Virginian, and it since has appeared in many other western films. It was used in some episodes of Little House on the Prairie and Iron Horse. A full-size "prop" locomotive used for scenes in the locomotive cab was said to have been furnished by: "Barbary Coast Hoyt Hotel", Portland, Oregon.
For the first two seasons the order of the girls in both the opening water tower shot and the closing credits was Billie Jo, Bobby Jo & Betty Jo. Beginning in the third season the order is Betty Jo, Bobby Jo & Billie Jo.
Gunilla Hutton, the second Billie Jo, was supposed to be a year or two older than Bobbie Jo, who was played by Pat Woodell, at the time she joined the cast. In actuality, Hutton was only a month older than Woodell.
Betty Jo, Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo all shared the "Jo" part of their name after their Uncle Joe, played by Edgar Buchanan.
Kate's youngest daughter, redheaded Betty Jo (Linda Henning) is something of an early pioneer for the women's liberation movement serving both as the relief engineer on the Cannon Ball train locomotive and as a shortstop on the Hooterville Hawks baseball team.
After Smiley Burnette, best known for his sidekick work in "B" westerns before becoming the Cannonball's chief engineer, died during the run of the series, and Byron Foulger took over as Wendell, the train's new engineer. In a strange coincidence, Foulger died on the same day (4 April 1970) that the last episode was originally broadcast.
The Hooterball Cannonball, an 1890s steam engine, coal car and mail/passenger coach, was a mock up for a locomotive and cab shell originally built for the Marilyn Monroe movie A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950).
Jack Bannon, who played several different characters on the show is the son of Bea Benaderet.
Betty Jo's uniform number was #4 while she was a shortstop on the Hooterville baseball team.
Although he played her Uncle on the show, in real life Edgar Buchanan was only three years older than Bea Benaderet.
An humorously-obvious "total opposites" irony in two of the Bradley sisters' names: Billie Jo has a masculine-sounding name, and yet she is by far the most "skirts 'n' hair-ribbons" type of all three girls; Betty Jo, on the other hand, is the tomboy in the family, yet her name --- Elizabeth --- is totally feminine-sounding.