Released on CBS on September 15, 1965, Green Acres was an American sitcom that starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. The series follows the married couple, Oliver and Lisa Douglas, who live in New York. Oliver works as a successful attorney with dreams of owning his own farm, and the couple leaves their New York penthouse against Lisa’s wishes and relocates to a small farmhouse in the country. The show was successful during its almost decade-long run and is still a favorite of many who watched when it was on the air. Check out these lesser-known facts some Green Acres fanatics might not even know!
The Program Was Based On A Radio Show
Much like other television shows coming out around the same time, Green Acres got its start in radio as a show called “Granby’s Green Acres.” The radio show had the same concept, following an ex-banker who turned into a farmer, although he was much better at his previous profession.
The radio show was short-lived, only airing for seven weeks during the summer of 1950. However, this was to the benefit of the radio show’s creator, Jay Sommers, who brought it back to television over a decade later.
Both Stars Reflected Their Characters
As it turns out, stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor both had a little bit of their character inside of them. Albert had turned his front yard into a cornfield in which he worked, and had a greenhouse where he grew organic vegetables.
On the other hand, Eva Gabor owned numerous animals including cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, and more. However, she also apparently had an urban side to her like her character, showing her animals off at parties, and was completely unaware when her rabbits had multiplied.
The Theme Song Was Written By A Famous Composer
The Green Acres theme song is memorable for being incredibly catchy and fitting for the show. This is no surprise, however, considering that it was written by no one else other than Vic Mizzy, who is best known for his work as a composer for television and films. His most famous works came from sitcoms of the 1960s and 70s.
Green Acres was one of his most popular along with The Addams Family, among many others. The theme song also marked the first time the stars of the show performed the theme song.
There Was No Improvising
Whether it be television or film, most actors ad-lib at one point or another, it’s something that happens naturally. While most directors will either let this slide or encourage it, that wasn’t the case on the set of Green Acres.
According to Albert, “There was no time to improvise on that program […] 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.”
The Show Was Based On True Events
Although the concept of a successful lawyer living in Manhattan picking up everything and trying to save a failing farm might seem a little out there, the show was based in reality.
In an interview, show creator Jay Sommers commented that “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. 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.”
Albert Didn’t Appreciate Gabor’s Elaborate Feather Outfits
Eddie Albert was a known environmentalist and at one point politely asked Eva Gabor if she could refrain from wearing outfits adorned with countless feathers while onscreen. When Gabor protested, Albert stated that he didn’t want any of the female fans to copy her style, resulting in the deaths of more birds.
She responded that “feathers don’t come from birds,” so Albert asked her where she thought they came from. She answered by saying, “Dahlin. Pillows! Feathers come from pee-lowz!”
There Were Numerous Easter Eggs
Although they weren’t shoved in the viewer’s faces, there were several small Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the show. In one episode, regarding Lisa’s lack of skill in the kitchen, she reminds Oliver, “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.” Ironically, Zsa Zsa is Eva Gabor’s real-life sister.
There are also several references to The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, both shows that were produced and written by Green Acres executive producer, Paul Henning. At one point, the couple even puts on a local production of the show.
There Was A Reunion TV Movie
After the success of the original series, it only felt right to bring the show back one last time. So, in 1990, a TV movie was released titled Return to Green Acres. The film is set twenty years after the original series after Oliver and Lisa have moved back to New York but are no longer satisfied there.
Coincidentally, the people of Hooterville ask the Douglas’ to return to the town in order to prevent it from being destroyed by a developer.
It Was Cancelled During The “Rural Purge”
Unfortunately, for the showrunners, actors, and audiences, Green Acres was canceled in 1971 after running a solid run of six years. However, it wasn’t the only show to have its airtime revoked in 1971.
According to Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney, that was “the year CBS canceled everything with a tree.” It became known as the “rural purge,” which led to the demise of shows, including The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, The Andy Griffith Show, Lassie, Mayberry R.F.D and Hee Haw.
The Location Of Hooterville Is Still Unknown
Although we know that Oliver and Lisa originally lived in Manhattan, New York, before moving to the rural town of Hooterville, audiences never learn the actual location of the town. Since the show is semi-based on Sommers’ life, some believe that it’s located in Greendale, New York, where he once spent time on a farm.
However, at one point in the series, Mr. Haney states that the town is about 300 miles from Chicago. It also doesn’t help that the characters’ accents are all over the place.
Mr. Haney Is Based On Elvis Presley’s Manager
While on the set for the film Roustabout, actor Pat Buttram, who plays Mr. Haney, met Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager. Landing the part of Mr. Haney just a year later, he revealed that he used Parker as an inspiration for his character.
If that’s the case, it’s clear that Buttram must not have had the best encounter with Parker considering that Haney is considered to be a slimy and dishonest salesman. He eventually even has plans to destroy the town.
Eddie Albert Was A Firm Believer In The Premise
Starring as Oliver Douglas, Eddie Albert had apprehensions about television before Green Acres, proclaiming that the medium was “geared to mediocrity.” However, after his agent pitched him the idea for Green Acres, he was on board with the show.
On the show’s premise, he stated, “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 […] I knew it would be successful. Had to be.” Turns out he was right!
Hank Patterson Was Almost Completely Deaf
Hank Patterson, who played Fred Ziffek was almost completely deaf by the time he accepted the role on Green Acres. Even though this made things more complicated at times, he was so popular with the rest of the cast as well as audiences, CBS knew that they had to keep him on the show.
Of course, they used a series of tricks to help Patterson say his lines. One of these was having a dialogue coach lie on the ground out of sight, who would tap him on the leg with a yardstick when it was time to say his lines.
People Began To Appreciate The Show Again In The 1990s
During the 1990s, Nick at Nite brought the show back onto the air advertising it as “It’s not stupid … it’s surrealism!” Albert agreed with this slogan telling People, “A professor once told me students see it as surrealistic […] The comedy is like Pickwick Papers or Gulliver’s Travels or Voltaire. It’s so far out that it becomes truth, deep truth.”
There may be more Green Acres to come as well! A book was written for Broadway in 2012 and rumors of a movie began circulating around the same time. Not much has been heard since then, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been canceled.
Arnold Ziffel Was The Pig They Treated Like A Son
Arnold Ziffel was a hilarious addition to the series. Although he was clearly a pig, the couple treated Arnold like he was their son. He’s a pampered pig who lives indoors and apparently, can understand English– they even send him off to school!
While everyone else treats him like a boy, Oliver refuses to treat the pig like a human. However, he hilariously slips up on this and ends up treating him like a kid as everyone else.
Oliver And Lisa Had Great Chemistry For A Reason
One of the great aspects of the show was the incredible chemistry between Oliver and Lisa. However, this was no coincidence, because in real-life Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were very close platonic friends.
This made their relationship on-screen a breeze to portray and made their love for each other on the show very convincing. When Gabor passed away in 1995, Albert took her death extremely hard considering they were great friends and had worked together for so many years.
Neither Stars Were The First Pick For Their Roles
Surprisingly, neither Albert or Eva were the first choices to star in Green Acres. Eddie Albert was only offered the part after actor Don Ameche turned it down. In turn, Marsha Hunt and Janet Blair both did screen tests for the role of Lisa Douglas, but in the end, Paul Henning decided to cast Eva Gabor for the role.
However, this was against the advice of CBS who warned him that audiences would have a hard time understanding her thick Hungarian accent.
Issues With Ralph Monroe
Alf and Ralph Monroe are two constantly bickering “brothers” who worked as carpenters. However, it is revealed that Ralph is actually Alf’s sister who is played by the female actress Mary Grace Canfield.
Alf claims that they dress Ralph up as a boy because they wouldn’t be able to get jobs if people knew that she was a woman. This ended up becoming a problem between the CBS executives who argued that viewers, particularly men, would have a hard time believing a woman could work a blue-collar job.
There Was A Terrible Rumor About Arnold The Pig
Arnold, the pig, was a fan-favorite as well as a staple of the show. The cute animal provided countless comedic moments and has even been described as “the true star of Green Acres.” However, when the show came to an end, audiences were curious about what happened to Arnold.
On one occasion, when Tom Lester, who played Eb Dawson, was asked about Albert, he replied that they cooked and ate him at the luau-themed wrap party. Many people were horrified upon hearing this, although it later was proven to be false.
Sam Drucker Believed In Oliver
Actor Frank Cady played the character of Sam Drucker, who is the only character to appear in both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. Drucker acts as the storekeeper, as well as a newspaper editor, fire department volunteer, and the postmaster, among other roles.
Drucker is a hard-working, straight-shooting man, and is the only character who encourages and agrees with Oliver’s decision to move to rural America. The other characters often made fun of his bald head, but Drucker was okay with it.