I was going to write about the crazy cat lady situation I had over weekend, but this 1964 episode of Petticoat Junction “Bobbi Jo and the Beatnik” (and how creepy is it that their uncle was named Joe and all the girls had the feminine of his name as their suffix, Bobbie Jo, Betty Jo and Billie Jo…anyway) was just too good pass up. Petticoat Junction of course was a spin off of The Beverly Hillbillies; the Clampetts were from near the trio of towns Hooterville, Pixley and Bugtussle–and there were character and location crossover to Green Acres as well, as all three series were created by Paul Henning.
We’re used to seeing actors like Telly Savalas, or Robert Redford on Twilight Zone as part of their early career trajectory. By the time this was shot, along with his episodes of Twilight Zone, The Big Valley, Bonanza and other earlier classics, Hopper had already filmed Rebel Without a Cause, Giant and several other films. He also had left Hollywood for a stint with Lee Strasberg. In 1994, he told Charlie Rose that because of his bad attitude he couldn’t get work in films for several years until John Wayne, a friend of his mother-in-law, cast him in The Sons of Katie Elder. He continued to work in television and made several films, including Cool Hand Luke, until striking gold with Easy Rider.
This role as the beatnik poet plays on Hopper’s reputation as an outsider. It is also interesting to note that his “beatnik” is very clean cut and average looking, especially when compared to the bongo playing slacker Maynard Krebs played by Bob Denver (later Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island) on The Life and Loves of Dobie Gillis, which featured young Tuesday Weld and Warren Beatty.