Actress Pat Woodell, who played the original Bobbi Jo Bradley on the 1960’s sitcom, Petticoat Junction, died of cancer September 29. She was 71.
Woodell was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, and initially hoped to be a singer, and she made some appearances as a teenager in Catskill Mountains hotels. She made her acting debut in a 1962 episode of Cheyenne, entitled The Vanishing Breed. She would go on to appear on the shows Hawaiian Eye (1963), The Gallant Men (1963), GE True (1963), and 77 Sunset Strip (1963). She also appeared in the anti-communist film Red Nightmare (1962).
Woodell is best remembered for being the first Bobbie Jo Bradley, one of three teenage daughters of widow Kate Bradley, operator of the Shady Rest Hotel, on the CBS sitcom, Petticoat Junction; which began its run in 1963. She played the book-smart character for the sitcom’s first two seasons (1963–1965), a total of 64 (out of 74) episodes, before she left the series in the spring of 1965 (she was replaced in 1965 by Lori Saunders). The series continued on CBS until 1970.
In several episodes she performed musical numbers, including one called “The Ladybugs”. The Ladybugs (a take-off on the Beatles) was a singing group comprised of Bobbie Jo and her TV sisters Linda Kaye, Jeannine Riley, together with Sheila James. The Ladybugs also appeared on an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show during Woodell’s run on Petticoat Junction.
After leaving Petticoat Junction, Woodell went on to have guest roles on a season three episode of The Hollywood Palace in 1965, and in one of the last episodes of The Munsters in 1966. She then toured as a singer, with Jack Benny, and recorded an album, but she did not achieve great popularity as a vocalist.
In 1971, Woodell made her film debut in The Big Doll House, followed by three more “exploitation” type films, including The Woman Hunt (1972), The Twilight People (1972) and The Roommates (1973), but she did not break into mainstream feature films.
Woodell retired from acting in 1973, after appearing on an episode of The New Perry Mason, entitled “The Case of the Murdered Murderer”. She soon went to work for Werner Erhard, in his EST seminar organization, and subsequently co-founded a consulting firm, retiring in 2013.
Woodell never returned to acting, but appeared in a few documentaries about her days on Petticoat Junction.
Woodell was married to actor Gary Clarke from 1964 to 1977. A year later, she married Vern McDade, to whom she was wed until her death. Woodell died on September 29, 2015, at her home in Fallbrook, California. She was 71 and battled cancer for 20 years.
Woodell lived in Fallbrook, California, at the time of her death. She’s survived by husband Vern McDade, according to an L.A. Times obit.
The characters are perhaps best known for their opening-credit bath in a rickety water tower, and the theme-song lyric: “Lots of curves, you bet, even more when you get… to the Junction. Petticoat Junction.”