Monday, June 11, 2012

Frank Cady Passes On

Frank Cady, the prolific character actor best known for playing Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies, passed on 8 June 2012 at the age of 96.

Frank Cady was born on 8 September 1915 in Susanville, California. He made his film debut in a bit part as a farmer in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936. He studied drama at Stanford University in Stanford, California. Following his graduation from Stanford University, Mr. Cady studied acting at Westminster Theatre in London, England. He would return to Stanford University in 1939 to accept a position as a teaching assistant and to pursue his post-graduate studies. He would eventually leave Stanford to work as an announcer at various radio stations throughout California. In 1943 he joined the United States Army Air Forces and served in the European Theatre during World War II.

Following World War II Frank Cady returned to work in radio and also acted in various plays in Southern California. In 1947 he made his first film appearance following World War II, in the movie Violence. From the late Forties into the Fifties he appeared in such films as Sarge Goes to College (1947), The Vicious Circle (1948), The Sky Dragon (1949), Flamingo Road (1949), The Great Rupert (1950), D.O.A. (1950), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Father of the Bride (1950),  Ace in the Hole (1951), Dear Brat (1951), When Worlds Collide (1951), Rear Window (1954), The Bad Seed (1956), The Girl Most Likely (1958), and The Man Who Understood Women (1959). He made his television debut in an episode of Life With Luigi in 1953. From the Fifties into the Sixties he would play the recurring role of Doc Williams on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, starting in 1954. Throughout the Fifties he appeared in such shows as December Bride, You Are There, Maverick, Make Room for Daddy, 77 Sunset StripTrackdown, and The Alaskans.

In the Sixties Mr. Cady appeared in such shows as Rawhide, Perry MasonThe Untouchables, Cheyenne, The Virginian, Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, and The Andy Griffith Show. It was in 1963 that he joined the cast of the new sitcom Petticoat Junction. On the show Frank Cady played Sam Drucker, owner of the general store in the town of Hooterville. Frank Cady would also appear as a regular character on Green Acres, which also took place in the vicinity of Hooterville. He would later make guest appearances as Sam Drucker on The Beverly Hillbillies (the Clampetts would visit Hooterville).  Frank Cady was one of the few actors in the history of television to play the same character on multiple shows. He also appeared in the movies The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and The Gnome-Mobile (1967).

In the Seventies Mr. Cady guest starred on such shows as Hawaii Five-O, Monster Squad, and Eight is Enough. He appeared in the movies The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Zandy's Bride (1974), and Hearts of the West (1975).  In the Eighties he guest starred on the show AfterM*A*S*H and the TV reunion movie Return to Green Acres.

In retrospect it should be little wonder that Frank Cady should be cast as the Nelsons' friendly neighbour Doc Williams on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and congenial general store clerk and postmaster Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies. It was early in his career that Mr. Cady was cast in the role of friendly, small town court clerks, hotel clerks, store owners, and other similar roles. That is not to say that Frank Cady was not versatile. He was very much so. In the Alan Hale Jr. comedy Sarge Goes to College (1947) he convincingly played a college professor. He played a drunk on more than one occasion, including guest shots on Make Room For Daddy and The Andy Griffith Show. In He Walked by Night (1948) Mr. Cady was even one of the suspects in a murder. He played officers of the law more than once, in such films as The Crooked Way (1949) and Atomic City (1952). Generally these roles were not very big, but Mr. Cady was convincing in all of them. It must also be pointed out that Frank Cady was one of the busiest actors of his time. From 1963 to 1965 he appeared in regular roles in two different sitcoms (Doc Williams on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction). In the late Sixties he appeared as Sam Drucker in three different sitcoms, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies (although it was only on the former two that he was a regular).

While Frank Cady played much more than clerks of various types and he appeared on more than just Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, it is as Sam Drucker that he is best known. This is perhaps for good reason. Not only did Sam Drucker appear on Americans' TV screens two times a week (three when he guest starred on The Beverly Hillbillies), but Frank Cady took the character well beyond that of a typical sitcom character. Like other great sitcom characters, from Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show to Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served, Sam Drucker was the sort of person one might actually know. He was the sort of store clerk that one might encounter in any small town in almost any of the United States. Although intelligent, he would nonetheless overlook the eccentricities of his friends and neighbours, perhaps choosing to see the best in people. He accepted the wealthy, educated Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) and he accepted the not so wealthy, uneducated Fred Ziffel. Frank Cady made Sam Drucker, apparently the only sane resident of Hooterville, seem real and everyone loved him for it. While Frank Cady should probably be remembered for many of his either fine roles as well, he can certainly be proud for playing the role of Sam Drucker. He certainly won't be forgotten.


Toby O'B said...

I think only John Munch can beat Sam Drucker as the Crossover King.....

Terence Towles Canote said...

I think you're right, Toby. I think John Munch is the only character to have appeared on more shows than Sam. And he even appeared in animated form (something Sam never did)!