The Everett Collection

Bea Benaderet on the importance of taking a deep breath

Bea Benaderet was one busy actress from the 1930s to the 1960s. For three decades, she could not only be seen in classic TV shows such as The Beverly Hillbillies, The George Burns Show and Petticoat Junction, but she could be heard in radio and in classic cartoons. 

With a long acting resume and with decades worth of work, Benaderet learned the importance of stopping to take a breather every once in awhile. Whether it was a big sigh of relief, a deep breath at rehearsal or just taking a break from business; Benaderet found it crucial to breathe between takes. 

"Take a deep breath and hold it!" Benaderet said in a 1967 interview with El Paso-Herald Post. "Breathing is a lost art."

During her time on Petticoat Junction, she played the character of Kate Bradley from 1963 to 1968. Her Hooterville roots ran deep and her character was known for being the loving, wise and hardworking mom of three.

According to the interview, her success in Petticoat Junction all boiled down to one thing: breathing.

"I see so many young people and some not so young people who make appearances on our Petticoat Junction series who've obviously never learned, you'll pardon my expression, the 'guts' of our business." Benaderet said. 

"Before you can be a good actor or a good singer, you must learn how to breathe properly and that means developing your diaphragm," Benaderet continued. "In fact, I'm sure it would do well for everyone to develop good breathing habits."

According to Benaderet, timing was everything when it came to learning to breathe as an actor. Luckily, she learned breathing techniques when she was a kid after studying voice and piano. 

She gave her first performance at age 11, and since, she held those techniques close to her chest.

"I'm sure you've noticed when an untrained vocalist interrupts the continuity of a song lyric to take a quick breath before continuing," Benaderet said. "It has to spoil the entire effect of a song."

Benaderet could tell by the breath which actors were professionals and which were amateurs. Like singing, one wrong breath could ruin an entire screen on-screen. 

"It's every bit as important in acting," Benaderet said. "You must have complete control of breathing to afford the freedom of exploring and discovering all the emotion written into the dialogue. Yet, I've seen it happen time and time again. Not because the talent isn't there but simply because the 'wind isn't.'"

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