Born on this date: Meredith MacRae

Actress Meredith MacRae was born May 30, 1944. The daughter of Gordon and Sheila MacRae, Meredith came from a show business family. She died in 2000 at age 56.

Many people first became acquainted with her as Sally on My Three Sons. She was on the show from 1963 to 1965; then Sally and the eldest son Mike got married and disappeared from the show (and from the Douglas family’s memory—they were never mentioned again).

In 1966 she joined Petticoat Junction as the third actress to play Billie Jo, one of the three Bradley sisters. With MacRae in the cast, the Billie Jo character, previously portrayed as a country girl, became more sophisticated and contemporary. MacRae’s Billie Jo started wearing long, straight hair and current fashions, and took frequent trips outside of Hooterville to pursue a budding singing career.

Speaking of singing, the addition of MacRae to the cast ushered in the era of constant singing on Petticoat Junction. For example, watch below as Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo sing “Up, Up, and Away.” In my opinion, their voices do not blend together well at all. To quote Randy Jackson, “Yo, dawg, that was not good for me.” The reaction shots of Steve and Aunt Helen smiling and nodding are just weird and awkward. Aren’t they hearing the same thing I am? Maybe they’re just used to trainwrecks, since the whole show revolves around a train.

The Petticoat Junction girls sing “Up, Up, and Away” in the episode “Kate’s Homecoming” (March 30, 1968)

On a creepy note, Meredith MacRae’s ghost visited Shirley Jones (Mrs. Partridge) in an episode of The Haunting Of… She wanted Shirley to deliver a message to her mother, Sheila MacRae, who was then ailing and has since died.

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