Well into its fourth season when the year 1961 dawned, The Real McCoys had risen to #5 in the ratings for the 1960-61 season and the producers obviously decided to leave well enough alone by trotting out familiar plots and recycling stories from previous seasons. But they were dealt an unexpected blow when filming the second show of the year, "The Horse Expert" (January 19, 1961), when actress Kathy Nolan was thrown from a horse during filming and was placed in "pelvic traction to relieve a pinched sciatic nerve," according to the February 18 edition of TV Guide. With Nolan bedridden, the show's writers danced around her absence in the next episode, "The City Boy" (January 26, 1961), by explaining that she was in Bakersfield tending to her sick mother.
Her continued absence is brought up again in "The Rival" (February 16, 1961) when it is explained that she is still at her mother's and that her mother has the flu, though Kate says in a letter that a young male neighbor has been particularly helpful during her mother's illness. Kate includes a photo of the attractive young man with her letter, immediately arousing Luke's jealousy but providing the producers an opportunity to flash back to the Season 1 episode "The Lady's Man" when Luke has a similar streak of jealousy that backfired on him. The archival footage from the earlier episode takes up the bulk of the 1961 episode, thereby giving the show a pass for one more week during Nolan's absence. A month later, realizing that Nolan would not be back for a while, the producers introduced a temporary replacement, young Swedish housekeeper Helga with the explanation that Kate's visit to Bakersfield would be extended because she hurt her back while helping her mother. As soon as the young, attractive Helga shows up, rumors begin swirling in town about Luke having an affair with her. Luke's first response is to sack Helga to squelch the rumors, but after a stern talking-to by Amos, he decides to hire her back. Toward the end of the episode he gets a phone call from Kate, who is shown in bed after just having a visit from Valley busybody Mrs. Murdock. Kate chides Luke for not telling her how young and attractive Helga is but she is proud that he finally stood up to the gossipers in hiring her back.
Helga figures prominently two episodes later in "Baseball vs. Love" (March 30, 1961) when Little Luke develops a crush on her and despite the large disparity in their ages asks her to marry him when he gets a little older. When he realizes that in order to keep Helga he will have to give up playing on the local baseball team, Little Luke decides to let her out of their agreement, not realizing that she had only been playing along to spare his feelings. Helga makes her fifth and final appearance in the episode "George Retires" (April 13, 1961), though she does not figure prominently in the plot. After not airing an episode on April 20, two more episodes aired without Kate or Helga before Nolan finally returned to the series in the episode "Kate Comes Home" (May 11, 1961), though she is still confined to bed and the plot revolves around Hassie's attempt and failure to fill in for her. Helga's disappearance is never explained.
While the show continued to feature its share of misogynistic plots (as discussed in our post on the 1960 episodes) after Nolan's return, Kate's character is afforded a few opportunities to show her worth, even if it comes with a healthy dollop of caveat. In "Kate's Competition" (August 17, 1961), Luke is impressed with the accomplishments of Kate's friend Alice Carter when they are invited over to dinner one evening. Alice makes ceramic dishes, paints in oils, sells real estate, and helps out at a charity, on top of serving a delicious dinner with remarkable coffee. So Kate feels that she has to do likewise to keep Luke's approval, only in doing do she fails at all of her new endeavors and her housework suffers due to neglect. Luke and Amos learn after Kate is at her wit's end that Alice actually doesn't do any of the housework or cooking in her own home--her husband Charlie handles all of the stereotypical "women's work." Luke and Amos then volunteer to help Kate out with her housework so that she has more time for her other activities, but she tells them she has given them up and is going back to being a full-time housekeeper. This episode manages to show a successful untraditional division of household labor for the Carters but ultimately settles for the status quo for the McCoys. In "Honesty Is the Best Policy" (November 9, 1961) Kate is the voice of moral authority when she refuses to allow Amos and Luke to swindle businessman Mr. Bentley who wants to lease their roadside stand to sell hot dogs and orange juice. Amos and Luke talk up how much traffic they typically get on any given day so that Bentley agrees to pay them $100 per month for a six month lease. But when Kate hears about the deal, she forces them to lower their price to $50 and include a clause in their contract allowing Bentley to back out if traffic turns out to be much different than they had represented. However, it turns out that Bentley has swindled them by not telling them he knows that all highway traffic is due to be diverted past their stand for the next six months while construction is taking place. Amos upbraids Kate for allowing them to be duped and says she should stick to the kitchen, but she goes to see a lawyer who says that the clause about traffic being other than expected cuts both ways--providing the McCoys with a legal way to break the lease and get the use of their stand back. Seeing that he has been saved from a scam, Amos reverses course and tells Kate she can meddle in whatever she wants to.
But outside of Kate most other women we encounter on The Real McCoys are schemers and gold-diggers. Amos has to save Pepino from a disastrous marriage in "Pepino's Wedding" (April 27, 1961) after it is clear that Pepino's wife would wear the pants in the family. George MacMichael has to be saved from catastrophic unions on two occasions--in "George's Housekeeper" (September 28, 1961) and in "Cyrano McCoy" (November 16, 1961). In both cases Amos is the one who gets George in a fix, telling him to hire a pretty housekeeper while his sister Flora is away in the former episode, and pawning George off on the gold-digging "actress" Evie Dockweiler in the latter episode after she first hooks Amos. But in both instances, once Amos privately paints George as a poor farmer, rather than a wealthy landowner, to his lady loves, they head for the hills. It's all part of Walter Brennan's conservative vision of traditional roles for the sexes and a belief that simple values are the best--not the glitter of riches.
But while The Real McCoys was riding high in 1961, even with Nolan's prolonged absence, it was soon toppled in 1962 with the emergence of The Beverly Hillbillies, which swept to the top of the ratings while The Real McCoys vanished from the top 30. Of course, this turn of events also corresponded with Nolan leaving the show in a contract dispute. Perhaps her departure hastened the show's demise, but it was also obvious even during its heyday in 1961 that the producers and writers had run out of original ideas and had begun resorting to recycling plots from one season to the next. The show's reliance on simplicity may have ultimately been its undoing.
All six seasons have been released as of this writing--the first four seasons on DVD by Infinity Entertainment and the last two on DVD-R by SFM Entertainment.
For the biographies for Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna, Kathy Nolan, Lydia Reed, Michael Winkelman, Tony Martinez, Andy Clyde, and Madge Blake, see the 1960 post for The Real McCoys.
Little is known about actress Eva Norde, who was born in Sweden and notched her first film credit when she was introduced as the McCoys' temporary housekeeper Helga in the Season 4 episode "The Swedish Girl." She appeared in 5 episodes in 1961 while Kathy Nolan was away, but her character was jettisoned without explanation once Nolan returned. In 1962 she made guest appearances on Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6, The Patty Duke Show, and The Dick Powell Theatre, but these were her last appearances on American television. In 1963 she sued talk-show host Steve Allen for $200,000 after appearing on his show, during which he revealed her address and phone number. Norde claimed in her suit that leaking her personal information forced her to move and change her phone number, resulting in lost job opportunities. Her television career resumed in Sweden some 30 years later as a studio manager for TV movies and series such as Marquis de Sade, Tomtomaskinen, Sleeping Beauty, and Bouncers! in 2000, the last year for which she has credits listed on imdb.com.
Notable Guest Stars
Season 4, Episode 11, "A Bundle From Japan": Yuki Shimoda (Aki on Johnny Midnight) plays farmhand Charley Osaki.
Season 4, Episode 12, "The Horse Expert": Robert Foulk (shown on the right, played Ed Davis on Father Knows Best, Sheriff Miller on Lassie, Joe Kingston on Wichita Town, Mr. Wheeler on Green Acres, and Phillip Toomey on The Rifleman) plays stable owner Frank Tillford.
Season 4, Episode 13, "The City Boy": Danny Richards, Jr. (Franklin Sanders on Willy) plays underprivileged youth Pete. Viola Harris (Selma Hanen on One Life to Live) plays social worker Miss Finch.
Season 4, Episode 14, "The Investors": Noah Beery, Jr. (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1960 post on Riverboat) plays Amos' nephew Claude McCoy. Forrest Lewis (Mr. Peavey on The Great Gildersleeve) plays McCoy neighbor Al. Marjorie Bennett (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays neighbor Mrs. Comstock.
Season 4, Episode 15, "If You Can't Lick 'Em": Lyle Talbot (shown on the right, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays competing roadside stand owner Mr. Duff. Irene Tedrow (Mrs. Elkins on Dennis the Menace and Standing Cow on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) plays choosy produce buyer Mrs. Platt.
Season 4, Episode 16, "The Rival": John Stephenson (see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Flintstones) plays freelance photographer Don Hogan.
Season 4, Episode 18, "You Can't Beat the Army": Leonard Stone (shown on the left, appeared in The Mugger, The Big Mouth, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and Soylent Green and played Doc Joslyn on Camp Runamuck, Packy Moore on General Hospital, and Judge Paul Hansen on L.A. Law) plays army regiment commander Lt. Richter. Nicky Blair (Charlie de Angelo on Saints and Sinners) plays his subordinate Sgt. Michaels. Addison Richards (starred in Boys Town, They Made Her a Spy, Flying Tigers, and The Deerslayer and played Doc Calhoun on Trackdown and Doc Landy on The Deputy) plays Richter's commanding officer Col. Martin.
Season 4, Episode 19, "The Bazaar": K.T. Stevens (Vanessa Prentiss on The Young and the Restless) plays school fundraising lead Mrs. O'Banion. Irene Tedrow (see "If You Can't Lick 'Em" above) plays busybody Mrs. Gherkin. James Flavin (Lt. Donovan on Man With a Camera and Robert Howard on The Roaring 20's) plays her husband Judge Gherkin.
Season 4, Episode 20, "The Swedish Girl": Norma Varden (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Hazel) plays charity organizer Mrs. Murdock. Connie Gilchrist (starred in Tortilla Flat, A Letter to Three Wives, and Long John Silver and played Purity Inker on The Adventures of Long John Silver) plays housekeeper Mrs. Jensen. Forrest Lewis (see "The Investors" above) plays the town barber. Joan Staley (shown on the right, Playboy Playmate who appeared in Cape Fear, Roustabout, Valley of the Dragons, Johnny Cool, and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and played Hannah on 77 Sunset Strip and Roberta Love on Broadside) plays manicurist Jeannie.
Season 4, Episode 21, "The Sunday School Teacher": Gage Clarke (shown on the left, played Mr. Botkin on Gunsmoke) plays new minister Reverend Digby.
Season 4, Episode 22, "Baseball vs. Love": Jimmy Lydon (starred in Tom Brown's School Days, Little Men, Joan of Arc, and 9 Henry Aldrich features and played Biff Cardoza on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Andy Boone on So This Is Hollywood, and Richard on Love That Jill) plays Eva's suitor Frank Grant. Steven Barringer (Butch Malone on Cannonball and the radio operator on The Forest Rangers) plays Little Luke's friend Ned Flynn. Paul Tripp (host of children's shows Mr. I. Magination and On the Carousel and co-creator of Tubby the Tuba) plays Little Luke's baseball coach Nelson Thayer.
Season 4, Episode 23, "Theatre in the Barn": Fay Wray (shown on the right, starred in The Street of Sin, The Four Feathers, The Vampire Bat, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, King Kong, Black Moon, The Cobweb, and Queen Bee and played Catherine Morrison on The Pride of the Family) plays herself. Robert Karnes (see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Lawless Years) plays head of the Valley Grange Fund-Raising Committee Mr. Barstow. Marjorie Bennett (see "The Investors" above) returns as neighbor Mrs. Comstock.
Season 4, Episode 24, "George Retires": Olan Soule (Aristotle "Tut" Jones on Captain Midnight, Ray Pinker on Dragnet (1952-59), and Fred Springer on Arnie) plays prospective farm buyer Mr. Copley.
Season 4, Episode 25, "Pepino's Wedding": Vito Scotti (Jose on The Deputy, Capt. Gaspar Fomento on The Flying Nun, Gino on To Rome With Love, and Mr. Velasquez on Barefoot in the Park) plays bandleader Pablo Hernandez. Elvia Allman (Aunt Vera on I Married Joan, Jane on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Cora Dithers on Blondie, Mrs. Montague on The Bob Cummings Show, Elverna Bradshaw on The Beverly Hillbillies, and Selma Plout on Petticoat Junction) plays caterer Mrs. Pearson. Henry Corden (shown on the left, played Carlo on The Count of Monte Cristo, and Babbitt on The Monkees and did voicework on The Flintstones, Jonny Quest, The Atom Ant Show, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and Return to the Planet of the Apes) plays Pepino's future father-in-law Mr. Ramirez.
Season 4, Episode 26, "Sorority Girl": May Heatherly (shown on the far right, played Heather McNabb on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) plays sorority leader Barbara. Joan Freeman (shown on the near right, appeared in Come September, Panic in Year Zero!, Roustabout, The Reluctant Astronaut, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and played Elma Gahrigner/Emma Gahringer in Bus Stop, Dr. Sue Lambert on Lassie, and Barbara Robinson on Code R) plays sorority leader Susan.
Season 4, Episode 27, "Kate Comes Home": Jimmy Bates (Claude on Father Knows Best) plays Hassie's boyfriend Bob.
Season 4, Episode 28, "Money in the Bank": Richard Deacon (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Dick Van Dyke Show) plays bank vice president Mr. Laidlaw.
Season 4, Episode 29, "A Man of Influence": J. Pat O'Malley (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Frontier Circus) plays real estate developer C.J. Martindale. Vaughn Taylor (starred in Jailhouse Rock, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Psycho, and In Cold Blood and played Ernest P. Duckweather on Johnny Jupiter) plays Community Improvement Committee member Mr. Fancher. Dick Elliott (see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Andy Griffith Show) plays Community Improvement Committee member Mr. Tremantle. Stephen Roberts (Stan Peeples on Mr. Novak) plays Community Improvement Committee member Mr. Burton.
Season 4, Episode 30, "Back to West Virginny": Henry Jones (shown on the near right, played Dean Fred Baker on Channing, Owen Metcalf on The Girl With Something Extra, Judge Jonathan Dexter on Phyllis, Josh Alden on Mrs. Columbo, Homer McCoy on Gun Shy, B. Riley Wicker on Falcon Crest, and Hughes Whitney Lennox on I Married Dora) plays West Virginia relative Uncle Jed McCoy. Eve McVeagh (starred in High Noon, The Glass Web, and Tight Spot and played Miss Hammond on Petticoat Junction) plays his wife Myra. Pat Buttram (shown on the far right, appeared in numerous Gene Autry movies, played himself on The Gene Autry Show, Mr. Haney on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, and voiced Cactus Jake on Garfield and Friends) plays his cousin Carl. Jane Darwell (starred in Tom Sawyer (1930), Huckleberry Finn (1931), Gone With the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Mary Poppins) plays Amos' mother Great Grandma McCoy. Robert Easton (renowned voice coach, played Brian McAfee on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Show and voiced Lt. George Lee Sheridan on Stingray) plays a taxi driver.
Season 4, Episode 31, "Fly Away Home": Henry Jones (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as West Virginia relative Uncle Jed McCoy. Eve McVeagh (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as his wife Myra. Pat Buttram (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as his cousin Carl. Jane Darwell (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as Great Grandma McCoy. Frank Cady (Sam Drucker on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction) plays cousin Edgar McCoy. Charles Lane (shown on the left, appeared in The Milky Way, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Lady Is Willing, The Music Man, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and The Gnome-Mobile and played Mr. Fosdick on Dear Phoebe, Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction, Foster Phinney on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dale Busch on Karen, and Judge Anthony Petrillo on Soap) plays the West Virginia McCoys' boss T.J. Leland.
Season 4, Episode 32, "September Song": Henry Jones (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as West Virginia relative Uncle Jed McCoy. Eve McVeagh (see "Back to West Virginny" above) returns as his wife Myra. Josephine Hutchinson (appeared in The Story of Louis Pasteur, Son of Frankenstein, Tom Brown's Schooldays, and North by Northwest) plays Amos' former girlfriend Mary Turner.
Season 4, Episode 34, "Lost and Found": Frank Ferguson (shown on the right, played Gus Broeberg on My Friend Flicka, Eli Carson on Peyton Place, and Dr. Barton Stuart on Petticoat Junction) plays lodge Grand Pharoah Mr. Taggert.
Season 4, Episode 35, "First Love": Sandy Descher (starred in The Cobweb, The Opposite Sex, The Space Children, and A Gift for Heidi and played Judy Massey on The New Loretta Young Show and Susan on The New Phil Silvers Show) plays Little Luke's girlfriend Susie Nelson. Bernadette Withers (Ginger on Bachelor Father) plays Little Luke's classmate Ruth.
Season 4, Episode 36, "Hassie's European Trip": Charles Ruggles (starred in Charley's Aunt, The Girl Habit, If I Had a Million, Alice in Wonderland, Ruggles of Red Gap, Bringing Up Baby, and Son of Flubber and played Lowell Redlings Farquhar on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays wealthy businessman Henry Devereaux.
Season 4, Episode 37, "How to Win Friends": Neil Hamilton (shown on the left, played Commissioner Gordon on Batman) plays public speaking instructor Mr. Berquist. Fredd Wayne (Sgt. Bill Hollis on Code 3) plays Junior Grange presidential candidate Charlie Perry. Robert Karnes (see "Theatre in the Barn" above) plays Senior Grange president Mr. Dockweiler. Lawrence Parke (casting supervisor on Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts, later became a talent agent) plays mailman Mr. Perkins. Olan Soule (see "George Retires" above) plays speaking class pupil Mr. Walters.
Season 4, Episode 38, "The Matador": Lee Bergere (George on Hot L Baltimore and Joseph Anders on Dynasty) plays world-famous matador Fernando Garcia.
Season 4, Episode 39, "George's Housekeeper": Paula Winslowe (Martha Conklin on Our Miss Brooks) plays employment agency owner Miss Burns. Jesslyn Fax (shown on the right, appeared in Rear Window, The Music Man, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and The Love God? and played Angela Devon on Our Miss Brooks, Emma the fan club VP on The Jack Benny Program, and Wilma Fritter on Many Happy Returns) plays housekeeper Miss Trumbull. Lee Patrick (starred in Saturday's Children, The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, and Pillow Talk and played Aggie on Boss Lady and Henrietta Topper on Topper) plays female companion Clarissa Webster.
Season 5, Episode 1, "Excess Baggage": Willard Waterman (shown on the left, played Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on The Great Gildersleeve and Mr. Quigley on Dennis the Menace) plays store owner Mac MacGinnis. Dick Wilson (Dino Barone on McHale's Navy and George Whipple in Charmin toilet paper commercials) plays customer Mr. Barnes. Eddie Quillan (starred in The Grapes of Wrath, Mandarin Mystery, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Hi, Good Lookin'! and played Eddie Edson on Julia and Poco Loco on Hell Town) plays employment agency advisor Mr. Smith.
Season 5, Episode 2, "The Trailer Camp": Alan Hale, Jr. (shown on the right, played Biff Baker on Biff Baker U.S.A., Casey Jones on Casey Jones, and The Skipper on Gilligan's Island) plays vacationer Harry Keller. Amzie Strickland (Julia Mobey on Carter Country) plays his wife Annabelle.
Season 5, Episode 4, "The New Piano": Reta Shaw (Flora McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, Thelma on The Tab Hunter Show, Mrs. Stanfield on Oh, Those Bells, and Martha Grant on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays piano teacher Helen Amory.
Season 5, Episode 5, "The Handsome Salesman": Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand on Star Trek, the Star Trek feature films, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek New Voyages) plays traveling saleslady Mrs. Lomax.
Season 5, Episode 6, "Honesty Is the Best Policy": Lloyd Corrigan (shown on the left, starred in A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob, Hitler's Children, Captive Wild Woman, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, and Son of Paleface and played Papa Dodger on Willy, Wally Dipple on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Uncle Charlie on Happy, and Professor McKillup on Hank) plays businessman Mr. Bentley. Paul Bryar (Sheriff Harve Anders on The Long, Hot Summer) plays the sheriff.
Season 5, Episode 7, "Cyrano McCoy": Beatrice Kay (singer and vaudeville performer, appeared in Diamond Horseshoe, Underworld U.S.A., and A Time for Dying and voiced Susan Culpepper on Calvin and the Colonel) plays actress Evie Dockweiler.
Season 5, Episode 8, "The Diamond Ring": Steven Geray (appeared in Phantom of the Opera (1943), Spellbound, Gilda, All About Eve, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and played Dr. Herman ver Hagen on The Danny Thomas Show) plays shopkeeper Mr. Schneider. Will Wright (shown on the right, played Mr. Merrivale on Dennis the Menace and Ben Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show) plays jeweler Sam.
Season 5, Episode 9, "The Berry Crisis": Ray Teal (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Bonanza) plays berry buyer Mr. Rayfield. Jon Lormer (Harry Tate on Lawman, various autopsy surgeons and medical examiners in 12 episodes of Perry Mason, and Judge Irwin A. Chester on Peyton Place, and Sherwood Keith) plays a neighbor farmer.
Season 5, Episode 10, "The Rich Boy": Beau Bridges (shown on the left, played Seaman Howard Spicer on Ensign O'Toole, Richard Chapin on United States, Dave Hart on Harts of the West, Judge Bob Gibbs on Maximum Bob, Dan Falco on Beggars and Choosers, Tom Gage on The Agency, Maj. Gen. Hank Landry on Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate SG-1, Carl Hickey on My Name Is Earl, Nick Brody on Brothers & Sisters, Barton Scully on Masters of Sex, and Tom Miller on The Millers) plays new neighbor Randy Cooperton. Philip Ober (appeared in From Here to Eternity, North by Northwest, and Elmer Gantry) plays his father. Joan Tompkins (Trudy Wagner on Sam Benedict, Mrs. Brahms on Occasional Wife, and Lorraine Miller on My Three Sons) plays Randy's mother.
Season 5, Episode 11, "The Gambler": Jerome Cowan (starred in Shall We Dance, Victory, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, Miracle on 34th Street and many Blondie movies and played Collins on Not for Publication and John Larsen on The Tab Hunter Show) plays stock speculator D.B. Sharkey.
Season 5, Episode 12, "The Marriage Counselor": Sara Seegar (shown on the right, starred in The Last Curtain, Dead Men Tell No Tales, and The Music Man and played Eloise Wilson on Dennis the Menace) plays marriage counselor Dr. Edith Thompson. Florence Sundstrom (Belle Dudley on The Life of Riley) plays her secretary Lorna Blake.