Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Eva of Hooterville

Green Acres started out as an attempt to get two prime-time series to cross over so viewers would tune in both of them. It ended as a surreal tale of a rural town where the odd was normal. Both Green Acres and Petticoat Junction were apparently set in Hooterville. They were like two different towns, as if the Green Acres version had fallen into an alternate universe.

It made perfect sense, then, to plop into the proceedings a Hungarian actress who was known for marriages, sisters and not much else.

For someone whose accent was difficult to cut through, Eva Gabor was always quotable. Here are two pieces by Hal Humphrey of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, the first from August 14, 1965 (before the series started) and the other from October 2, 1968. Albert was signed for the show in April (Producer Paul Henning had wanted Gale Gordon) while Gabor was inked near the end of June and John Daly was hired in July to narrate the pilot (CBS turned down a request to have Walter Cronkite do it). Pat Buttram was added to the cast in August, with Variety reporting he was to get third billing and appear in 10 of the first 13 episodes.

Eva Gabor To Star In Corny TV Show 'Green Acres' On CBS

HOLLYWOOD — The first question popping into mind while watching Eva Gabor film a scene for a new TV series called Green Acres is, "What's a chic Hungarian like her doing in a barnyard?"
Eva's answer is not too convincing. She says that she loves to work and especially to do broad comedy.
"I did Present Laughter' with Noel Coward, and isn't that broad comedy?" Eva replies defensively.
Broad, yes, but Noel Coward never had Eva Gabor chasing a rooster while wearing a Jean Louis negligee, which is one of her ecapades in an early Green Acres episode.
In addition to being regularly involved with such corn-hall hijinks in Green Acres every Wednesday night at 9 (CBS) beginning Sept. 16, Eva also must find time to make occasional appearances in that other bucolic bash known as Petticoat Junction, a CBS series which inexplicably is about to begin a third TV season Incredible as it may seem, there is to be what someone already has gleefully tagged as a "cross-pollination" between Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. Eva and her TV husband (Eddie Albert) moves to Hooterville Valley because he has a yen to return to the land, and Hooterville Valley happens to he where Petticoat Junction is located along with Kate Bradley (Bed Benaderet), proprietor of the Shady Rest Hotel, and a gaggle of unforgettable characters.
Each week this rural version of Peyton Place with a laugh track and its interchanging characters is designed to keep the viewer hooked for a half-hour on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The producers had some difficulty getting Miss Benaderet to cross-pollinate until she received extra compensation, but that is all settled now.
Eva does not say what her contract calls for, moneywise. "It is confusing, I have so many managers and agents, but I am sure they worked out something nice."
Apparently Eva had the lords of Hooterville over somewhat of a barrel. She was not cast in the role until late June and then would not hear of doing a weekly series without Gene Hibbs, one of Hollywood's most expensive and expert makeup men, and Peggy Shannon, a hairdresser of equal stature in her field. Put them with the famous dress designer Jean Louis and his gowns and we have one of TV's most expensive one-women packages.
About the funniest thing to happen so far in this goulash Eva finds herself a part of was her first visit to the Petticoat Junction set where the mountain dialects are thicker than goat cheese.
"People say they don't understand my accent Migawd! I haven't understood a word said yet on that Petticoat show. Is that English?"
It isn't likely there will be any cross pollination of the Hungarian and Hooterville dialects, however.
"Nothing ruins my accent," affirms Eva. "I tried for years. I went to Columbia University to lose it, and it was no use."
She may be underestimating the power of our hillbilly dialect, which has been growing more widespread in this country every year. A form of it is even spoken in the White House now, and joining Eddie Albert and Eva in Green Acres is Pat Buttram who thinks "right" is spelled R-A-T like in "rat now."

Humphrey hears Gabor’s odd take on a husband-wife relationship in this column. For someone who depended on a husband for everything, she sure dumped them a lot. I think Brown was her fourth. He was gone within a few years of this story.

Eva Gabor Says U.S. Women Better Wives

HOLLYWOOD—Eva Gabor would like us to know that American women are more beautiful than European women ("American women have great figures"), and that they also make as good wives as those in Europe.
"I never bought this ides that European women make better wives. I think that must have been started by some clever European woman. American women make good mothers and surely know how to run the house," says Hungarian-born Eva who co-stars as Eddie Albert's wife in the CBS comedy series, Green Acres.
I suggested to Eva that perhaps there were more career women in the United States than in Europe, giving credence to the rumor (or canard, as Eva believes) that European women make better wives.
"Why in the world would a woman want to compete with a man? The whole idea is repulsive. I work, but I am also a woman, and if I don't have a happy home, I have nothing. My husband is my anchor. He's everything," Eva says, without taking a breath.
She has been married to Richard Brown (former stockbroker and now an executive at Filmways TV Productions which turns out Green Acres) for nine years and insists she depends on him for "everything."
"When I lose the house key, as I did the other day, I call Richard to find out what I should do," says Eva.
"You didn't have any ideas?"
"Of course, but he would know better what to do. What's the use of having a husband who doesn't know better than you do? I don't want to be independent. I still ask Richard his opinion before I buy a dress."
Eva goes on to say, too, that she offers a lot as a wife. She redecorated a home they bought in Palm Springs recently. This she did on her own, but still consulted Richard now and then. As for the money she makes from Green Acres, which is considerable, Eva refuses to discuss whether it's more than Richard makes.
"I don't even want to know about it. Yes, I make a lot of money, but Richard takes care of that entirely. If a career woman is too self-reliant, she should unlearn it a bit, and have a better marriage."
Now, the question is, has Eva's philosophy on marriage come from her European background, or from her years in the United States where she has lived a good while ("since I was a kid, but I won't tell you when that was, because then you'd know my age").
Eva considers what she has said is just common sense for any woman, no matter where she comes from.
"You have to be feminine, A woman should look like a woman, and if she wears pants, she should do it when nobody sees her," Eva adds.
This season (the fourth) had an episode of "Green Acres" calling for Eva to wear coveralls, but designed by Nolan Miller, her new couturier, and are blue satin. Apparently, these pants she doesn't count.
After taping a guest appearance in which she sang and danced on the "Phyllis Diller Show," Eva began taking singing lessons.
"I thought if I'm going to be singing, it might be useful and interesting to know what I'm doing," she says.
Filming a weekly series and being the kind of wife Eva believes in is a difficult assignment. She's a bit unhappy, too, that "Green Acres" is airing a half-hour later this season, because she's very superstitious.
"But I'm prepared to stagger along for this fourth year, because I know how difficult it is in our business to get a hit. I just hope that new time doesn't affect it. Wouldn't you think they'd leave things alone when they're successful?"


  1. Always reminded me of a television re-boot of " The Egg and I " a way. Eva was my favorite of the Gabor sisters.

  2. One of TV's great subtexts was the fact that when the Douglases moved to Green Acres, at first it was Lisa who felt out of place. By the end of the series, Oliver was the constantly flustered one, while Eva accepted surreal "Hootersville" as perfectly normal.

    1. Steve, you are so right. Just watched an episode from season one. " Lisa " was calm, pretty level headed, and just wanted to go back to New York. By the last two seasons, everyone was in one world, and Oliver all alone in his. Lisa telling Oliver to look for the " Produced Bys ", " Directed Bys ", and written bys " on the wall when she turns out the lights. They just seemed to pull out all the stops, break the rules, and have a ball.

    2. Lisa was a true sophisticate - she could make ANYBODY comfortable to be around her.

      Oliver was a pompous bore who was frustrated that the farmers didn't conform to his vision.

  3. No doubt Henning wanted to cast Gale Gordon because he starred in "Granby's Green Acres," the radio show that inspired the series.

    1. I could absolutely see Gale starring in "Green Acres" - he would have be workmanlike and professional - but not brilliant.