10 things you never knew about Arnold the Pig, the true star of Green Acres
He brought home the bacon.
Eva Gabor oozed glamor. Eddie Albert played the perfect straight man. The surreal humor came quick. But the big reason people tuned in to Green Acres was probably the pig.
In an era when a horse could have a sitcom, Arnold the Piggy sizzled in the spotlight. Sorry, perhaps that is the wrong choice of words.
On the show, Arnold Ziffel was the de facto "son" of Fred and Doris Ziffel, the elderly neighbors of Oliver Wendell and Lisa Douglas. After a handful of early appearances, Arnold came to dominate the storylines in later seasons. The episode "A Star Named Arnold Is Born" chronicled his rise to fame, but fiction reflected reality as Arnold the Piggy became a true American porcine celebrity.
Let's dive into the slop and learn more about this fabulous farm animal.
1. He was the only cast member to win an acting award.
Eat your hearts out, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor! Arnold nabbed three PATSY (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) Awards, the Golden Globes for non-human performers. After losing to Flipper in 1967, he would go on to win three times, beating the likes of Ben the Bear (Gentle Ben) and Clarence the Lion (Daktari).
2. He appeared on TV before the other Green Acres stars.
Arnold Ziffel first turned up in the season two Petticoat Junction episode "Bedloe's Most Fiendish Scheme," in the spring of 1965. Eddie Albert's Oliver Wendell Douglas and Eva Gabor's Lisa Douglas would not make their television debuts until the fall of '65. So you could say Green Acres is technically his spin-off.
3. Many pigs played Arnold, most of them female.
Arnold the Piggy, a male pig, was just the first animal actor in the role. The producers and trainer would swap in young piglets in later seasons, to keep Arnold Ziffel forever cute and little. Female pigs came to be primarily used because they grow slower and smaller.
4. He received thousands of fan letters and appeared on other shows.
Children (and likely some adults) around the nation flooded the studio with fan mail. His popularity lead to ratings successes, and guest appearances on other series. He turned up on What's My Line and The Joey Bishop Show. Everyone wanted a piece of the pig.
5. He convinced kids to give up pork chops.
In fact, Arnold became so beloved, he turned people off eating pork. A class of sixth graders in Ohio swore off pork chops in his honor.
6. He liked to watch westerns and could change the channel.
This was one talented pig. He could drink through a straw and carry a lunch box in his mouth. He also enjoyed watching television, particularly Westerns. He could even turn the knobs on the TV set.
7. The pig was paid $250 a day.
That's not too shabby. Adjusting for inflation, that comes out to about $100,000 per year in today's money. We wonder what he spent it on?
Image: The Everett Collection
8. He's a Hoosier.
Okay, these facts are not necessarily reasons for his fame, but they are interesting. Arnold's specific breed it the Chester White, and he was born on the Jim Clem Farm in Mooresville, Indiana. That also happens to be the hometown of notorious criminal John Dillinger.
9. No, the cast and crew did not eat him.
For years, an urban legend circulated stating that Arnold was eaten when production wrapped. Not true! The mistruth was however due to someone who worked on the show, who became so tired of answering questions about Arnold's fate, he made up the sinister barbecue tale.
10. He's buried with his trainer.
Frank Inn was the brilliant handler and trainer responsible for Arnold. The Hollywood legend provided all sorts of animals to productions. He was the fellow behind Higgins, the adorable dog who from Petticoat Junction who went on to become Benji. He also trained Orangey the cat, the pooch on My Three Sons, Elly May's numerous critters on The Beverly Hillbillies, and so many more. Inn, also from Indiana, grew quite attached to Arnold the Piggy. When Arnold passed in 1972, at the age of about 7 or 8, he was cremated. Inn kept the urn of ashed until his death. He asked to have Arnold's ashes placed in his casket and buried with him.
Image: The Everett Collection