Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that from 1965 to 1971 Green Acres was what everyone watched. For six seasons, fans religiously watched an ordinary couple trade a fast-paced city life for a, uhh, “simple” country lifestyle. Come along with us as we look at 15 facts you didn’t know about the Hooterville life behind-the-scenes.
Based on a Radio Program
Green Acres was actually inspired by an old radio show, “Granby’s Green Acres”. And yes, the radio show did follow a story-line of a banker who became a farmer but his experiences with growing crops were no smooth feat. While the show was on the air for only seven weeks in 1950, it opened the door for Jay Sommers to produce a similar show a decade later.
While the idea seemed ludicrous – a fancy, successful attorney leaving his career to save a dying farm when he knows nothing about agriculture – there was someone who could relate to the premise. In a 1956 interview, the show’s producer Jay Sommers said, “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid. He wanted a farm in the worst way and he finally got one.” Sommers added, “I remember having to hoe potatoes. I hated it. I won’t even do the gardening at our home now, I was so resentful as a child.”
Eddie Albert Loved the Premise
Eddie Albert, AKA Oliver Wendell Douglas, was known to avoid certain television roles, as he believed the medium was ultimately “geared to mediocrity.” However once his agent explained the premise behind Green Acres, Albert was immediately hooked. “I said, ‘Swell; that’s me. Everyone gets tired of the rat race. Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots. It’s basic. Sign me,'” he explained to TV Guide. “I knew it would be successful. Had to be. It’s about the atavistic urge, and people have been getting a charge out of that ever since Aristophanes wrote about the plebs and the city folk.”
Bits and Pieces
Both Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor had a bit of their own characters in them. Once Albert transformed his front yard into a cornfield and he had a massive greenhouse for growing organic vegetables. Eva Gabor, AKA Lisa Douglas, owned tons of animals, such as dogs, cats, chickens, birds, roosters, and rabbits.
Sing A Song
The Green Acres theme song was created by Vic Mizzy, who is known for creating catchy theme songs (The Addams Family, anyone?). Additionally, this was the first time that the stars of a show performed the theme song.
No Ad-Lib Ever
“There was no time to improvise on that program,” Albert recalled once. “And furthermore, it was so well written, it would be impossible to improve on it. We never changed a word. I’ve never been in anything before or since that I didn’t want to monkey with a sentence here or something. But not a word there. It was so clean and so tight.”
Quite The Fan
34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a huge fan of the show. Actually, huge may be an understatement. Once he retired, the Eisenhower’s loved the show so much that they called their valet’s pet pig “Arnold”. Moreover they allowed “Arnold” to roam around their house freely, even to sit on chairs that their own grandchildren weren’t allowed on.
Furs and Feathers Not Welcome
Eddie Albert is a huge environmentalist and he loathed it when Eva Gabor wore furs and feathers, especially onscreen. When Gabor refused to stop wearing furs and feathers onscreen because it was so beautiful, Albert explained he didn’t want other women to be influenced to copy the look because more birds would then die. To which, Gabor replied, “Eddie, feathers don’t come from birds.” When Albert asked Gabor where feathers came from, she replied, “Dahlink. Pillows! Feathers come from pee-lowz!”
King of Rock and Roll
The character Mr. Haney has rather interesting roots. Pat Buttram, AKA Mr. Haney, had met Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, on the set of the Roustabout, where Buttram had the role as the owner of a carnival. Just a year later and Buttram landed the part of Mr. Haney – he stated years later that he used Parker as the inspiration for the Green Acres crook.
So, Where Is It?
Just like The Simpsons and Springfield, viewers of Green Acres have no idea where Hooterville is. While Sommers once mentioned that they were on a farm in Greendale, New York, however Mr. Haney said Hooterville was some 300 miles from Chicago. Plus, the accents on the show were not consistent whatsoever.
The show included inside jokes in the script! There is a scene when Lisa says to Oliver that he just needs to accept her horrible cooking skills. “When you married me, you knew that I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t sew, and I couldn’t keep house. All I could do was talk Hungarian and do imitations of Zsa Zsa Gabor.” Obviously, Zsa Zsa is Eva Gabor’s real-life sister. Furthermore there are tons of references to The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, both of which were produced or written by Paul Henning, the Green Acres‘s executive producer.
In the early 70’s, CBS canceled many shows due to a “Rural Purge” and Green Acres wasn’t the only show on the chopping block. Buttram referred to this as CBS’s way of getting rid of “everything with a tree.” Other shows that got the ax were The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Hee Haw, The Andy Griffith Show, and Lassie.
Arnold, The Pig
Once the show wrapped up, the stars of the show were asked what happened to Arnold the pig. Tom Lester, AKA Eb Dawson, once joked that Arnold was cooked and eaten at the Green Acres wrap party, which was luau-themed. However, that isn’t true at all.
1990 = Reunion
20 years later, Oliver and Lisa made a comeback in Return to Green Acres, after being in New York for two decades. As usual, Mr. Haney is in the middle of a underhanded scheme, and the Hooterville residents need Oliver and Lisa to help them out.
In the 90’s, Nick at Nite brought back Green Acres with the tagline, “It’s not stupid … it’s surrealism!” Apparently many others thought so too. “A professor once told me students see it as surrealistic,” Albert said to People Magazine. “He said, ‘The comedy is like Pickwick Papers or Gulliver’s Travels or Voltaire. It’s so far out that it becomes truth, deep truth.'” After a 2012 Broadway production and a film adaption in the works, more Green Acres could be back sometime soon.