The first Benji movie was the final screen role for three beloved classic TV stars, including the dog

Francis Bavier and Edgar Buchanan would never be seen again. The same goes for Higgins the dog.

The Everett Collection

In 2000, Patricia Hitchcock, daughter of cinema master Alfred Hitchcock, was speaking about her father at the University of Southern California. She revealed something shocking about the master of suspense — his guilty pleasure.

The Seventies were loaded with groundbreaking horror films — from The Exorcist to Alien. But Hitchcock loved Benji. Yes, Benji, the 1974 movie about the adorable dog. Patricia claimed her father was fond of the flick. Perhaps it was because many of the actors were familiar to him.

Benji stars Frances Bavier (Lady with the Cat) and Edgar Buchanan (Bill) had both appeared on episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. We count half a dozen Benji cast members who also appeared on TV in Hitchock shows.

But back to Bavier and Buchanan. These beloved performers were part of the folksy wave of feel-good comedy in 1960s television. You know them best as Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show and Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction. The two had a lot in common — playing the elder family members on rural sitcoms. Perhaps their biggest commonality is Benji.

Benji would be the final screen roles for both Bavier and Buchanan. They were born four months apart at the start of the century, though they grew up on opposite ends of the country. Buchanan studied dentistry in Oregon while Manhattanite Bavier trained on the stage. Their career paths would lead them both to CBS sitcoms in the Sixties. And they would end their careers together in Benji.

They were not the only two thespians bowing out with Benji. The canine himself said goodbye, too.

Playing Benji was Higgins, arguably the biggest dog star of his era… and Buchanan's former costar. Yes, Higgins was indeed the dog who played, well, "Dog" on Petticoat Junction. Higgins — believed to be a Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer mix — was long in the tooth in Benji, in his 16th year of life. He would die in 1975. Buchanan would pass in 1979, and Bavier a decade later. Knowing Benji was the last hurrah for all of them only adds to the tugging on the heartstrings.

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Cyn_Finnegan 6 months ago
Edgar Buchanan also co-starred in many John Wayne movies, including "The Comancheros," "Donovan's Reef," and "McLintock!"
Thomas0263 6 months ago
Buchanan & Bavier acted together in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.
ETristanBooth Thomas0263 6 months ago
Yes. Strange they didn't mention this.
country46 6 months ago
the hell with this i just soon square dance with the pig
I would rather dance with
Lou Ann Poovie.
or do the twist with Ellymae
Or slow dance with
Mary Ann Summers.
bagandwallyfan52 6 months ago
Come ride the little train it is
Coming down the tracks to the
Junction .Forget about your fears it is time to relax at the
Junction Lots.of curves you bet
Even more when get to the junction . There's a little hotel
Called The Shady Rest at the
Junction .It is run by Kate
And there's Uncle Joe
And he's moving kind of slow
At the Junction .
Petticoat Junction.
Correction to Petticoat Junction Theme Song
It is run by.Kate come and
Be her guest at the junction
Mayberry Couple
Howard Sprague and Millie
Hutchins
Sam Jones and Millie Swanson
Mayberry Couple
Emmett Clark and Martha Clark
Hooterville Couple
Oliver Douglas and Lisa
EB Dawson and Darlene
Molly Turgis had a sad life
According to Hank Kimball
wcbeav bagandwallyfan52 6 months ago
Petticoat Junction lyrics ….
“rollin’ down the tracks”
bagandwallyfan52 wcbeav 6 months ago
You ate right.
Thanks for the correction
About the lyrics to the
Petticoat Junction Theme
Song.
tootsieg 6 months ago
What a nice story. It always cracks me up that Higgins role on PJ was named “Dog”. I read somewhere that he got along best with Edgar Buchanan. Nice that they worked together again on Bennie.
Kelley1 6 months ago
I'm 98% sure the pig that played Arnold got his breakout role in Mark McCain's arms on one episode of The Rifleman. He was still a piglet, so if I'm right, that makes him a child star LOL! Arnold is my favorite Green Acres inhabitant.
Jeffrey Kelley1 6 months ago
Well, there were a lot of pigs that played Arnold on "Petticoat Junction", not just one.
RedjacArbez Jeffrey 6 months ago
But he was only in 4 episodes of "Petticoat Junction". How many do you think the used?
bagandwallyfan52 Jeffrey 6 months ago
The only characters on
Green Acres who made
Sense when they talked
Were:
Oliver Douglas
Sam Drucker
Hank Kimball and Lisa
Douglas usually didn't make sense when they talked but Lisa Douglas and Hank Kimball were
Funny characters.
Mr. Haney talked okay for a
Con artist but Haney talked
silly too sometimes .
I noticed that Robert Foulk
played Roy Trendell and later he played Mr. Wheeler.Also farmer Newt Kiley (Kay Kuter) was not
Seen on season six of
Green Acres but Hooterville
residents still mentioned
Newt Kiley s name during
season six of Green Acres.
Doee anyone know if Oliver
Douglas ever heard the Phyfe playing Yankie Doodle
Dandy . It seems like everytime the Phyfe played
that song Oliver Douglas was the ONLY HOOTERVILLE RESIDENT
Who did not hear the Phyfe
Playing that song..
Also Arnold the pig had more sense than some of the Hooterville Residents.
Barry22 6 months ago
Supposedly Higgins was very difficult to work with and very demanding. he refused to interact with the other actors off-set, and wanted final say on the script.
RedjacArbez Barry22 6 months ago
I heard he insisted on having only Chuck Wagon on the set.
Michael Barry22 6 months ago
Isn't that why they hired his daughter?
Pacificsun 6 months ago
Sweet!
Pacificsun 6 months ago
This comment has been removed.
denny 6 months ago
Benji also had in the cast Eb from Green Acres, Blue Boy from High Chaparral, Nick Barkley from The Big Valley, and Deborah Walley who played Gidget in the 3rd movie of the Gidget franchise. Not their last acting role, but still a interesting fact.
Michael 6 months ago
Still acting at 16? That's pretty good. Pokey is fifteen, and stiff. The highlight of his day is eating.
harlow1313 6 months ago
There is no denying Higgins's talent, but still, he was no Arnold Ziffel.
Load previous comments
Funny NixknamenCouple
Buddy Sorrell and Pickles.
Latka and Simka
Possible Couples
Eddie Cantor and Fanya(Kid
Millions)
Pee Wee Herman and Dixie
(Pee WEEs Playhouse)
Pee Wee Herman and Dottie(Pee WEEs Big Adventure)
Marilee And Sticks
Cute Girl and Moose
Archie and Veronica or
Archie and Betty
Moose and Midge
Jughead and Big Ethel
Andy Taylor and Charlene
Darling?????
Jeffrey bagandwallyfan52 6 months ago
Yeah, and they got married in real life. Linda Kaye Henning and Mike Minor.
Coldnorth harlow1313 6 months ago
I agree with that. I always wanted a pig for a pet but never got one. Sniffffff
vinman63 bagandwallyfan52 4 months ago
Fred hated Ethel in the real world.
Moody 6 months ago
Never watched a single Benji movie.
LoveMETV22 6 months ago
Liked both Buchanan and Bavier, but Credits to Benji - the character name
Films:
Benji (1974)
For the Love of Benji (1977)
Benji the Hunted (1987)
Benji: Off the Leash! (2004)
Benji (2018)
Television:
Benji's Very Own Christmas Story (1978)
Benji at Work (1980 - short)
Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland (1981 - short)
Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince (1983 - series)
Documentaries:
Benji's Life Story (1976)
The Phenomenon of Benji (1978)
There are a few others but the character name is not in the title.
AnnieM LoveMETV22 6 months ago
I remember "Oh, Heavenly Dog" with Chevy Chase and Jane Seymour as one of those.
LoveMETV22 AnnieM 6 months ago
There are a few others. I only posted the ones with " Benji" in the title.
Runeshaper 6 months ago
3 great stars sharing 1 screen is a beautiful thing. 2 Bows + 1 Bow-Wow (-:
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