Petticoat Junction Star Dies

Meredith MacRae, who played comely country girl Billie Jo Bradley in the 1960s sitcom Petticoat Junction, died Friday from brain cancer. She was 56.

MacRae, who had a tumor removed from the right side of her brain Jan. 28, 1999, and received an excellent prognosis at the time, died at her Manhattan Beach home, publicist Sandy Pollock said.

“She really fought the good fight,” said Pollock, a longtime friend. “She was a terrific women, one of the best I’ve known.”

MacRae played Billie Jo from 1966-70 on the CBS series, which starred Bea Benaderet as the widowed owner of the Shady Rest Hotel and mother of three eye-catching daughters who helped run the Hooterville establishment.

The series was part of CBS’ popular country-themed lineup that included Green Acres.

A Hollywood Family

MacRae was born in Houston to a Hollywood family: Her father was the late actor-singer Gordon MacRae, who played the lovesick cowboy Curly in “Oklahoma!” Her mother is actress-comedian Sheila MacRae (The Honeymooners).

Meredith MacRae made her film debut at age 7 in By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) which starred her father and Doris Day. Her first TV series was My Three Sons, in which she played Sally, the love interest for Mike (Tim Considine) from 1963-65.

She launched a TV talk show career with Mid-Morning L.A., which she co-hosted Geoff Edwards. It ran for eight years and won her a local Emmy in 1986. MacRae followed that with Born Famous, in which she interviewed the offspring of celebrities.

MacRae, whose marriages to movie executive Richard Berger and actor Greg Mullavey ended in divorce, married business executive Phil Neal in 1995.

She is survived by her husband, her daughter Allison Mullavey, her mother, and brothers Bruce and Gar. Funeral arrangements were pending.