Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were ostensibly the stars of the show, but they really weren’t. Producer Jay Sommers admitted early in the first year of the show that “Arnold the pig is our biggest drawing card.” Indeed, Arnold found a place in wire service obituaries for both Albert (2005) and Gabor (1995).
The fascination over a pig that acted like a human because he was treated like one resulted in all kinds of newspaper feature columns about him. Let’s give you a couple of them. The first appeared in papers around January 3, 1967, half-way through the second season.
Well, It’s Happened: A Pig Named Ziffle Is a TV ‘Star’The Associated Press caught up with Sommers after the third season. This column appeared in papers on August 21, 1968.
By HARVEY PACK
TV Key, Inc.
New York—One of the more curious developments of this curious television season is the stardom of Arnold Ziffle [sic]. A complete unknown 18 months ago, Arnold now has his own fan clubs scattered across the country and receives more mail than some veteran TV personalties.
Recently, in fact, the students at a midwestern high school named him their "Man of the Year" and broke out in a rash of Arnold Ziffle sweatshirts.
This would not be such an odd success story, save for one fact. Arnold Ziffle is a pig. Specifically, he's the scenery chewing porker who appears with Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor on CBS' "Green Acres."
What is the source of the Ziffle cult? How has a 350 pound slab of bacon on the hoof taken to stardom? In short, what is Arnold Ziffle really like?
To answer these questions, we cornered Jay Sommers, the moon-faced ex-farm boy who produces and writes Green Acres. The following is the conversation which took place:
Q—How did you discover Arnold Ziffle?
A—I wrote a script about a farm couple, the Ziffles, who had no children — but who treated their pig like a son. Lots of people do the same thing with dogs and cats. Why not a pig? Now, I needed an actor to play the role, and put in a call to Frank Inn, one of Hollywood's best animal trainers. We screen tested ten of 12 pigs until we found one with the right combination of talent and personality. Some pigs have it, and others don't. Arnold had it.
Q—Has stardom changed Arnold?
A—Yes, for the better. He's a much more professional actor now, although I think he always had a lot of ham in him. No pun intended. He comes on the set prepared. He knows his lines. He waits quietly at the other end of the studio when he's not in a scene.
A—Yes. He can turn on a television set with his nose ... I mean his snout. Not many pigs can do that.
Q—How does he get along with the other actors in the show.
A—We have several animals on Green Acres and I'm proud to say they're like one big happy family. There is no professional jealousy in our stock company, if you'll pardon the expression.
Q—Who are some of the others?
A—Let's see ... we have a piano playing chicken. And we once used a tap-dancing horse. Then there's Eleanor, the cow, who doesn't really do any tricks but has a terrific personality.
Q—What about Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert?
A—They don't do any tricks, either, but they have terrific personalities.
Q—I meant how does Arnold get along with them?
A—He respects them as fellow professionals. There was only one bad moment—when Eva played her first scene with Arnold. She cried out, "Darling, you don't mean it. I'm not co-starring with an . . . ugh . . . pig! ! ! Arnold's feelings were hurt, but they're great pals now. Q—Would you say that Arnold is a born actor?
A—Yes. He follows the Stanislavasky [sic] "method," which, stated simply, means playing a role naturally, drawing on one's feelings. His characterization never falters. He always comes across as a pig.
Q—Is it difficult to write for Arnold?
A—In writing for any animal, I follow one simple rule. I t[r]eat them as I would human characters, giving each one a definite point of view. Otherwise, there's no humor. The script may say, "Arnold grunts in disappointment" or "Arnold registers surprise," but never just "Arnold grunts." The director and the other actors have to know what Arnold is grunting about, so they can play against him.
Q—Can you sum up your feelings about Arnold?
A—To the rest of the world, Arnold may be just, a pig. To me, he's a focal character, in a television series. I just hope that, despite all this attention, he stays the same sweet, wonderful pig he is today.
Pig In ‘Green Acres’ Gets A Fatter StatusThe series’ ratings dropped in the final two seasons, though it didn’t make much difference. CBS was determined to get rid of any show with a rural tinge, and swept Green Acres off the air in 1971, ignoring the fact it had become a social satire as much as anything else (perhaps because it was not as heavy-handed at it as All in the Family, the network’s new darling). To engage in the kind of egregious pun Sommers liked to spout in interviews, no longer did Arnold bring home the bacon.
By CYNTHIA LOWRY
HOLLYWOOD (AP) — Arnold Ziffel, a cast regular in "Green Acres" for the past four seasons, has finally achieved featured-player rank in the series. Now the show's producer and the CBS television network plan to spin Arnold off to star in his own series.
This is not exactly unprecedented in television: The only thing that makes it unusual is that Arnold is a young pig.
Arnold—or rather Arnold and Baby, his stand-in—were working Tuesday at the studio with the trainer. Neither seemed interested in anything but a bit of dog food, rewards for learning, on command, to trot up to a mail box, open it, remove a letter and return to Glen Gamer, their drama coach.
Jay Sommers, "Green Acres" producer, slipped Arnold into the show for off-beat comedy value early in its run. The pig was treated like a child by the Ziffel family. Then Frank Inn, who specializes in training what he calls "picture" animals—from assorted critters of the "Beverly Hillbillies" to the performing cats of "Rhubarb"—taught the original Arnold and his twin so many unusual tricks that the role became stronger and stronger. Arnold learned to turn on and off a television set—he likes only Westerns. Arnold learned to pull a little cart, so one story was built around the porker and his newspaper route. It built and built.
Sommers said he has a network deal to develop a show called "Arnold," perhaps for next season, and plans to base the story line on having Arnold inherit $80 million—in trust, of course—and leave the Ziffels to go to New York. Among other things, he'll buy a hotel when it won't admit a pig; buy a stockyard to liberate fellow porkers.
Sommers is intrigued and amused with the idea—and also very aware of the popular and financial success of such shows as "Lassie," "Flipper" and now, "Gentle Ben."
"I think you can do even more with a pig—in comedy anyway —than with a bear," he said. "We can also insert some oblique social commentary.
In next season's opening “Green Acres” show, Arnold will win an all-expense trip to Hawaii, but in the climactic scene, turn it down when he finds that he will be guest of honor at a luau—the Hawaiian feast which centers around a roast pig.