Bea Benaderet and her character on Petticoat Junction had some key differences
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Bea Benaderet was an iconic actress and comedian who played the role of Kate Bradley, the head of the Petticoat Junction (1963) matriarch. She was the central maternal figure in the hit series and was a loving and supportive mother to Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo.
Her good parenting skills didn't stop at her character; she shared the responsibility between her onscreen children and her two children at home. According to a 1965 interview with The Decatur Daily Review, she and Kate were somehow both polar opposites and a lot alike.
A good example of how the character and the actress varied was how they carried themselves in their daily lives. Benaderet called herself a "slob" (her words, not ours) compared to her hardworking and very organized character.
"I'm really not a fussy dresser," Benaderet said. "I make 10 changes a day in the show and the most divine time is when I can wear slacks. Okay, so I'm a slob!"
In reality, the actress was far from being an actual "slob." She wouldn't have been able to see the success she did as an actress if she was one, but she also wasn't the "mother-knows-best" character she portrayed in the series either.
"I'm afraid my off-camera resemblance to Kate ends in the kitchen," Benaderet said. "Actually, my cooking resembled Kate's much more when I was in my early teens than it does now."
According to the interview, due to Benaderet's mom's poor health, she did a lot of cooking for the family. And it turns out that Kate's kind of dishes — chicken and dumplings and lemon meringue pie — was no chore for her.
She also let her fans in on a Petticoat Junction secret: the "cooking" on the series is done by the property master, Vince Vecchio.
According to an interview with the Arizona Daily Star, Benaderet said she had a few odd jobs in acting before Paul Henning asked her to audition for the part of Granny in The Beverly Hilbillies. Irene Ryan ended up with the role, but Henning created Cousin Pearl Bodine just for her.
"I know Paul from the days when he was a writer for Burns and Allen, and he always said, 'Bea, someday I'm going to have a show for you,' and now, by golly, he has," Benadaret said.
Although she became a highly successful actress, she said she was content with just having a steady gig. Even if Benaderet didn't see just how important she was to the acting world at the time, the world did and still does.
"Maybe I don't think I am a star, maybe it's as simple as that," Benaderet said.