Pat Woodell, Actress Who Appeared In ‘Petticoat Junction’ And 1970s Exploitation Films, Dies At 71

Pat Woodell, who was best known for playing studious middle daughter Bobbie Jo Bradley on the television series Petticoat Junction, has died. According to her husband, Woodell, 71, passed away on September 29 in her home in California after having battled cancer for nearly 20 years, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Born in 1944 in Winthrop, Massachusetts, Pat Woodell had always dreamed of being a singer, and as a teenager, she would often perform gigs at hotels in the Catskill mountains. In 1962, Woodell signed a contract with Warner Bros., and she began her acting career with small appearances on television series like Cheyenne, Hawaiian Eye, and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1963, Pat Woodell landed the role for which she is still known today — Bobbie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction. The television show mostly revolved around the three Bradley sisters — Betty Jo (Linda Kaye Henning), Bobbie Jo (Woodell), and Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley) — the daughters of widow Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet) and their adventures, misadventures, and many romances as the four women attempted to run the Shady Rest Hotel near the rural town of Hooterville.

Pat Woodell played Bobbie Jo Bradley in Petticoat Junction for two seasons before ultimately leaving to pursue her original dream of singing, according to the New York Times. Of her time on the popular series, Woodell discussed its reach during an interview in the mid-2000s for a DVD release of the series.

“The show has such a nostalgic note that it hits for so many people. Even today, after so many decades, I can be doing anything, anywhere in the world, by the way, and people will remember Petticoat Junction.”

Though she was able to do some singing on Petticoat Junction — which included an episode where she sang in “The Ladybugs,” a Beatles parody group, with her onscreen sisters — it wasn’t enough for Pat Woodell. In 1965, she left the show and was replaced by Lori Saunders, who continued to play Bobbie Jo Bradley until 1970, when the show went off the air.

After leaving Petticoat Junction, Pat Woodell continued acting sporadically, appearing in an episode of The Hollywood Palace in 1965 and one of the last episodes of The Munsters in 1966. Woodell’s musical career garnered some success in the late 1960s, as she toured as a singer with comedian Jack Benny, and she even recorded an album. However, despite a 1962 gossip column about Woodell’s singing at resorts in the Catskills that read “everybody wants to hear 18-year-old singer Pat Woodell,” she never saw great popularity as a singer.

In 1971, Woodell decided to return to acting, this time choosing roles that would flip the idea that the actress was a wholesome little girl like her character in Petticoat Junction on its head. During a time when things like nudity and violence weren’t readily available on every cable TV show, directors in the 1970s found themselves an eager audience with the creation of exploitation films — movies that relied heavily on those two things. Pat Woodell, far from Petticoat Junction’s Bobbie Jo Bradley, starred in a few of them. In 1971’s The Big Doll House, she acted alongside exploitation veteran Pam Grier and horror film favorite Sid Haig in a movie whose trailer declared “their bodies were caged, but not their desires!” After a few more exploitation films, Pat Woodell left the acting world in 1973 for good, and she eventually co-founded her own business consulting firm, from which she retired in 2013.

In 1964, Pat Woodell married fellow actor Gary Clarke, but the two divorced in 1977. A year later, Woodell remarried, this time to Vern McDade, to whom she remained married to until her death. She is survived by McDade, as well as her stepfather Joe Saveriano.

[Image via George / Flickr/Resized/CC 2.0]