Monday, May 30, 2005

The Last Patriarch Dies

As a child who attended Sunday School regularly and constantly read from my children's Bible, I was aware that there were three patriarchs named Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Years later, after what seemed like non-stop viewing of hundreds of hours of repeats of old Filmways television programs, my view of the three patriarchs had been somewhat...altered, you might say.

For me, the three patriarchs were now Joe Carson, Jed Clampett, and Oliver Wendell Douglas.

Edgar Buchanan, who played Joe Carson on Petticoat Junction, passed away twenty-six years ago, but Buddy "Jed Clampett" Ebsen of the Beverly Hillbillies lived on until just under two years ago. The last surviving of the three patriarchs, Eddie Albert of Green Acres, died last week at the age of 99. Ninety-nine years old! I knew that he had been around for quite a while, but I had no idea that he was older than Buddy Ebsen, nor that he was just a couple of years younger than Edgar Buchanan. Hearing that these people have died is just one step removed from learning of a favorite uncle's death.
You feel like you grew up with these people. They were adults that you could trust.

When I was still watching repeats of the classic 1960s sitcoms, my father informed me that several of the actors on the shows were already dead: Sgt. Carter of Gomer Pyle, Sgt. Schulz of Hogan's Heroes, Granny of The Beverly Hillbillies, and quite a few others. I mentioned this to a friend of mine while watching TV at his house. He asked, "Is Green Acres dead?" A rather strange way to phrase the question, I thought, but I had no answer. My father had not mentioned anything about any Green Acres character being dead. Now, I suppose, the answer will have to be, "Yes -- the heart and soul of Green Acres is dead." But the show lives on in repeats.

The three patriarchs -- Albert, Ebsen, and Buchanan -- brought hours of laughter to millions of people. Everyone should leave behind such a legacy.

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