9 Green Acres episodes where the main cast played someone other than their usual characters
They played ancestors, doppelgangers and even the Clampetts of Beverly Hills!
It's no surprise that a wacky show like Green Acres would throw in an episode here and there where the main actors would play multiple roles. Sometimes they played their own relatives or a version of themselves from the past, as in the case of Eddie Albert playing the founder of Hooterville — a man who just wants to settle down and build a farm.
Here are nine occasions where cast members portrayed new characters in addition to their regular roles.
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1. "Oliver Buys a Farm"
The very first episode of Green Acres brilliantly sets the tone for all the zany antics that would follow. Played like a fake news program hosted by actual reporter and game show host John Daly, it tells the story of how Oliver Wendell Douglas came to buy his Hooterville farm. Oliver knew from a young age that he wanted to work the land, but his overbearing father wouldn't allow it. Eddie Albert plays the senior Douglas with the same exasperation he brought to Oliver Wendell, except with a stern brow and even sterner mustache.
2. "The Good Old Days"
This is a classic flashback episode of Green Acres, one that goes way back — all the way to the 1800s! Oliver tells Lisa the story of Gus Thompson, a settler in 1880s Kansas. Naturally, the story soon becomes the plot of the episode itself with all the main cast members playing versions of their regular characters. Eddie Albert plays Gus; Eva Gabor plays his wife Etta, Pat Buttram plays Prentiss the Peddler and Tom Lester plays Gus Jr. Lester's role is great because Eb always thought of Oliver and Lisa as his parents — and here they actually were!
3. "The Beverly Hillbillies"
Only a show like Green Acres could pull off this wonderfully weird quasi-crossover episode. At this point in the show, The Beverly Hillbillies exists only as a TV program that the residents of Hooterville like to watch. Later, the characters on Hillbillies are real people who meet residents of Hooterville but that's neither here nor there. In this episode, Eb rewrites a script from Paul Henning — the real creator of The Beverly Hillbillies and executive producer of Green Acres. Oliver, Lisa and Hank Kimball decide to perform it as a play, but not in the parts you might expect. The fact that Hank plays Jed Clampett, Lisa plays Granny and Oliver plays a skateboarding Jethro shows the true genius of Green Acres.
4. "The Vulgar Ring Story"
In another classic flashback episode, Lisa tells the story of her great-great-grandmother. She reveals that the women in her family must marry an American every fourth generation in order to keep possession of the giant diamond ring she wears. The last woman to do it was her descendent Lastvogel Groinietz – the other character Eva Gabor plays in the episode. Eddie Albert plays Lisa's great-great-grandfather, Cornelius Reinholt, an American traveling through Hungary. Lisa starts off just telling the story to Oliver and Eb, but by the end, Mr. Haney, Sam Drucker, Hank Kimball and the rest of Hooterville are crowded around her, listening intently.
5. "How Hooterville was Floundered"
This episode tells the story of the founding of Hooterville. After becoming head of the town’s centennial celebration, Oliver decides to put on a play about founder Horace Hooter. He asks the audience to imagine his poorly furnished stage as an old saloon and sure enough, it turns into a full set complete with bar, card table and swinging doors. Eddie Albert plays both Oliver and Horace in this episode and Eva Gabor plays Lisa and Horace's wife, Doris. Other Hooterville regulars join in as well with Mr. Haney as the bartender, Sam Drucker as the sheriff and Alf and Ralph as Larry and Harry.
6. "The Old Trunk"
Another 19th-century flashback episode revolves around an old trunk that Eb finds. Inside is the diary of Lydia Plunkett, a traveling corset saleswoman. Eva Gabor does double duty as Lisa and Lydia with Eddie Albert as Oliver and Lydia’s rival salesman, Harry Wright. No matter how hard he tries, Harry keeps getting beat out by Lydia on every sale. Eb and Lisa are completely enthralled by the story while Oliver couldn’t care less. The episode ends with a funny reveal about where the trunk came from and the truth of the dramatic tale.
7. "The Wish Book"
After Eb finds an old mail-order catalog in a hole in the wall, Mr. Haney says it belonged to the couple that sold the farm to his grandfather, Originally (as in, Mr. Originally Haney). In 1898, Calvin and Tessie Whitaker, played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, order a cream separator from the catalog. When a "magic lantern" projector shows up instead, Calvin uses it to impress the townspeople with a picture of Abraham Lincoln standing on his head and shadow puppets of various animals. Calvin takes his ideas to Hollywood but it's Tessie who catches the producer’s eye. She becomes a silent film star while Calvin has to go back to the farm.
8. "Oliver's Double"
In a classic doppelganger episode, an embezzler named Charlie Foster comes to Pixley. Of course, Eddie Albert plays Oliver and Charlie — who are mistaken for each other throughout the episode. This leads to both of them landing in jail at the end where Lisa must decide who is her husband and who is the crook. It’s a rare episode with two characters played by the same actor that doesn't involve a flashback.
9. "How to Enlarge a Bedroom"
Another instance of an actor playing two characters without a flashback is in "How to Enlarge a Bedroom." Oliver hires Alf and Ralph to do exactly as the title says but the building inspector, Mr. Haney's cousin, Buford Wilkins, doesn't approve the project and condemns the house. Naturally, Pat Buttram plays both Haney and Wilkins. Oliver mentions that Buford looks just like his cousin but Buford says he looks most like his aunt.
At the start of every work week, Jay Sommers and Dick Chevillat (the writers) and Dick Bare (the producer/director) probably sat down and said "What HAVEN'T we done yet?"
Then the cast would come in, to see what they'd have to do that week - and just relaxed and had a ball with the absurdities; they were all having FUN - and we all could tell.
And THAT'S why GREEN ACRES is still around after all these years.
"Brats" (1930) - they play their own infant sons
"Twice Two" (1933) - they play each other's wives
"Thicker Than Water" (1935) - after a blood transfusion, they play each other
"Our Relations" (1936) - they play their own twin brothers, thought lost at sea