Monday, 19 October 2015

Pat Woodell Passes On

Pat Woodell, perhaps best known as the first actress to play Bobbie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction, died on September 29 2015 at the age of 71. The cause was cancer.

Pat Woodell was born on July 12 1944 in Winthrop, Massachusetts. She wanted to be a singer and as a teenager performed at resorts in the Catskills. She was eventually signed to Warner Bros. and made her television debut in 1962 in an episode of Cheyenne. She made her film debut in the notorious anti-Communist propaganda short "Red Nightmare", narrated by Jack Webb. She guest starred on episodes of Hawaiian Eye, The Gallant Men, G.E. True, and 77 Sunset Strip before being cast as Bobbie Jo on Petticoat Junction. Bobbie Jo was the bookish, intelligent brunette of the three sisters on the show. The part did give Pat Woodell opportunities to sing on the show. In an episode titled "The Ladybugs" Bobbie Jo and her sisters (Billie Jo, played by Jeannine Riley, and Betty Jo, played by Linda Kaye), formed a singing group of the name and performed The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There". The Ladybugs even appeared in an edition of The Ed Sullivan Show.

After two years on Petticoat Junction, Pat Woodell decided to leave the show to pursue her singing career. As a singer she toured with Jack Benny and even recorded an album. She also sang on the shows The Merv Griffin Show and The Hollywood Palace. Unfortunately as a singer she did not see a great deal of success. Miss Woodell guest starred on an episode of The Munsters and appeared in episodes of the soap opera Bright Promises. She provided the voice of Bunny in Warner Bros.' short lived series of "Bunny and Claude" theatrical animated shorts.

The early Seventies saw Pat Woodell appearing in low budget exploitation films.She starred in the films The Big Doll House (1971), The Woman Hunt (1972), Class of '74 (1972), The Twilight People (1972), and The Roommates (1973). Her last acting job was a guest appearance on The New Perry Mason in 1973.

Pat Woodell left acting in 1973 after becoming a follower of the controversial est self-motivation organisation founded by Werner Erhard. For a time she worked for the est group. She later co-founded a consulting firm from which she retired in 2013.

Pat Woodell was well suited to the role of Bobbie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction, and to this day fans of the show still debate whether she or Lori Saunders (who took over the role) played Bobbie Jo better. Miss Woodell was very convincing at the attractive bookworm among the sisters. She was also a very good singer, so much so it is surprising that she did not have more success in that arena. While her acting career was not particularly long, her believability as Bobbie Jo has insured she will be remembered.

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