The television world of Paul Henning stretched from the Appalachian Mountains to the Hollywood Hills. The sitcom creator struck gold (well, oil) three times with his beloved hits The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. That trio of smash shows delivered dozens of memorable characters, many of which crossed over from series to series.
Henning’s anything-goes brand of homespun comedy included a menagerie of clever animals, like Dog and Arnold, not to mention actors switching roles. Bea Benaderet played both Cousin Pearl Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies and Kate Bradley on Petticoat Junction. But no role-hopping was quite so silly as Max Baer Jr. portraying both Jethro Bodine and his twin sister, Jethrine Bodine.
Jethrine, as you will recall, was simply Max Baer Jr. dressed up to look somewhat like Little Bo Peep. He slipped into a curly blonde wig and floral dress and hammed it up. The joke was made complete with Jethrine’s feminine voice, which was clearly not dubbed by Baer.
Henning hired his daughter, Linda Kaye Henning, to give Jethrine her voice. At the time, in 1962, Linda Kaye had just one credit to her name, a bit role in a single episode of Mister Ed which aired earlier that year. She would voice Jethrine in 11 episodes throughout the first season of The Beverly Hillbillies.
In 1963, Linda Kaye’s collaboration with her dad leaped to a new level when she joined the cast of Petticoat Junction as Betty Jo, the redhead in the trio of Bradley daughters. Betty Jo played a significant role in the series. She was the one who discovered Dog at the start of season two. Later, after a major ongoing romance, she would marry cropduster Steve Elliott, played by Mike Minor. Henning would go on to appear in more episodes of the series than any other actress, appearing in all but three. (Not to mention, she would marry Minor in real life.)
Alas, despite all the crossovers, Betty Jo and Jethrine never shared screentime. Jethrine disappeared in ’63, just as Betty Jo first popped her head out of the water tower.