Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Frank Cady: 1915-2012

Frank Cady...the name may not be familiar for millions of people but the face certainly was...and to an even larger degree a character he portrayed on not one, not two, but three sitcoms during the same production period which had never been done before. Cady, who died on June 8th at the age of 96, was known to millions as Sam Drucker primarily on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres but during a brief period in the late '60s he portrayed the character periodically on The Beverly Hillbillies, too, whenever the Clampettes either visited Hooterville or were talking to a citizen of Hooterville by way of telephone...enabling the actor to appear on three sitcoms portraying the same character. Hooterville is the town in which Petticoat Junction and Green Acres was set. The news of Cady's death broke late yesterday.

I believe his feat of playing the same character regularly on two concurrent sitcoms is still a record not matched by anyone else but don't quote me on that! Frank Cady appeared on a lot of movies and television shows but, as you perhaps are well aware, popular characters tend to typecast an actor or actress. It's almost unavoidable.

The lifespan of the television sitcoms he appeared in as Sam Drucker are as follows:

The Beverly Hillbillies: 1962-1971 (late '60s episodes/periodically)

Petticoat Junction: 1963-1970

Green Acres: 1965-1971

It should be pointed out that Cady's portrayal of Drucker differed just slightly from whichever series he appeared in. In Petticoat Junction the character was off-beat, fitting in with other characters that populated Hooterville but he often displayed flashes of normalcy...more so than his contemporaries like Joe, Charlie, or Floyd. In this show, Drucker happily presided over a General Store that sold some of the most strangest items and in some episodes he took delight in tricking out of town customers (city folks passing by) into paying large sums of money for items that the locals treated as trash. Also, the fact that once upon a time rural general stores doubled as post offices was played up to great effect...with Drucker acting as Hooterville post master...often finding mail years and decades after it was either suppose to be sent or years after it had arrived but hadn't been delivered to it's recipient. Most people familiar with the General Store through the years are also aware of the plastic pickles that were kept in the barrel (another money-making gimmick). 

In Green Acres Drucker was still off-beat and those flashes of normalcy were expanded further to where he became the only logical resident of Hooterville in the eyes of Eddie Albert's character, Oliver Douglas. Many times Oliver would be driven nearly mad by the backwoods view points of Hooterville's residents and would humorously lose his train of thought anytime he'd attempt to dissect any point of view that appeared strange and illogical to him. Many times Drucker would be the go-between for Oliver and the voice of calm rationale anytime Oliver lost his temper (which was almost all the time). Some of the funniest word play involved Drucker, Oliver, and town conman/salesman, Mr. Haney, who, by the way, sold Oliver the farm and the dilapidated house that was only slightly repaired through the program's 6 year history by the inept carpenters, Ralph and Alf Monroe.

A typical exchange between Drucker, Oliver, and Haney at the General Store would include quick editing from one character to the next where Haney, usually, interrupted Oliver in mid-sentence and then Drucker would pick up the dialogue and then the camera would shift quickly to Oliver, trying to finish his original sentence only for Drucker to say something like "oh, come on, Haney, let Oliver speak..." to which Oliver would say a thank you and start to re-ask his original question, only for Drucker to interrupt this time and start off in a different conversation with Haney about something that had nothing to do with Oliver at all. The interruption routine was also performed by Oliver/Kimball/Drucker and Oliver/Lisa/Eb. It was one of the show's trademarks.

In the late '60s Cady would periodically appear as Sam Drucker on The Beverly Hillbillies. There were usually 1 or 2 episodes that would combine the characters of all three programs for annual Christmas or Thanksgiving episodes...with Drucker often being on the receiving end of Granny's affections. Since I was way more familiar with Frank Cady from his appearances as Sam Drucker that's why the emphasis in this blog entry's been on his work as that character. He did other programs, as mentioned earlier, and his work can be looked up on-line rather easily but I decided to write about Cady in the role that was clearly his most beloved with viewers, Sam Drucker.

Frank Cady: 1915-2012

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