The Real McCoys ran from 1957 to 1963, with a total of 224 (30 minute) esisodes. The cast included:
Richard Crenna .... Luke McCoy
Kathleen Nolan .... Kate McCoy (1957-1962)
Lydia Reed .... Hassie McCoy
Michael Winkelman .... Little Luke (1957-1962)
Tony Martinez .... Pepino Garcia
Madge Blake .... Flora MacMichael
Andy Clyde .... George MacMichael
Years before the hillbilly Clampetts moved to Beverly Hills, The Real McCoys ruled the country sitcom roost. It was the first of its kind, spawning not only The Beverly Hillbillies but Andy Griffith, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Mayberry RFD and eventually The Waltons, HeeHaw and the Dukes of Hazzard. It also gave three-time Academy Award winner Walter Brennan a new career as a television comic.
Writers Irving and Norman Pincus came up with the idea of a West Virginia family that moves to California's San Fernando Valley to start a new life. Brennan played patriarch Amos McCoy, the cantankerous grandfather who had no use for modern inventions, much to the dismay of his son Luke. Luke and new wife Kate lived with Grandpa and siblings Hassie and Little Luke. Helping to keep the family farm (and Grandpa) in check was Pepino Garcia, the Mexican farmhand who "came with the house" and addressed Amos as "Senor Amos."
The scripts were standard sitcom fare, but the urban-rural twist helped make them appear relatively fresh for the time. Ironically, The Real McCoys almost never made it to the airwaves. The Pincus brothers couldn't sell the idea to any of the networks. But thanks to some clout (and funding) from Danny Thomas' production company (which would also launch Andy Griffith and The Dick Van Dyke Show, in addition to Thomas' own hit sitcom), The Real McCoys found a place at ABC in the fall of 1957. It was ignored at first, but two years later, The Real McCoys became the first sitcom in ABC's history to reach the top ten.
The McCoys move from Smokey Corners, West Virginia to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley of California, where Grampa Amos McCoy has inherited from his brother Ben.
They meet their neighbors, George MacMichael, who because Grandpa's best friend, and Flora, George's spinster sister who had had eyes for Amos. George and Amos are members of the Royal Order of the Mystic Nile Lodge.
But in spite of a seemingly idealic life, Grandpa seems to always be missing his life back in "West Virginny."
According to the pilot episode. Luke, Hassie and Little Luke are brothers and sister. When Pepino asks why both brothers are named Luke, Luke explains that when Little Luke was born his parents were so excited that they named him Luke, forgetting that they already had a son named Luke. As for Hassie, a later episode revealed that it's actually short for Tallahassee. It seems that at one time someone sent the family a postcard from Tallahassee, Florida, and they liked the name so much that they decided to give that name to their daughter.
The undisputed star of the show, was Grandpa, a porch-rockin', gol-darnin', consarnin' old geezer with a wheezy voice who liked to meddle in practically everybody's affairs, neighbors and kin alike. Grandpappy Amos was an incorrigible codger who was against anything anyone else was for. He had the regulation Heart of Gold stuck away somewhere, but he was cantankerous as all get out. With his shoulders and arms jumping, Amos walked like a chicken with a limp. He bullied, he blustered, he cajoled, he did everything he could to get his own way.
Viewers everywhere loved the weekly conflict between Grandpa and modern society (sometimes he was right; other times he had to be forced to admit he was wrong). Brennan pulled off the role with ease, despite his complaints that he was no comic.
The show ran on two different networks. First it was on ABC-TV for four seasons, and then it went to CBS-TV for its last two and during its six year run the show went on to win Emmys for actors Walter Brennan and Richard Crenna. The last time this show was ever seen was recently on TNN (formerly The Nashville Network before it changes the logo to The National Network). For those who like some down home spun country humor with a message in between, The Real McCoys was the show to watch and set the standard for other country sitcoms to follow.
Walter Andrew Brennan was born on July 25, 1894, in Swampscott, Massachusetts.
In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and performed in school plays. He worked some in vaudeville and also in various jobs such as clerking in a bank and as a lumberjack. He toured in small musical comedy companies before entering the military in 1917.
After his war service he went to Guatemala and raised pineapples, then migrated to Los Angeles, where he speculated in real estate. A few jobs as a film extra came his way beginning in 1923, then some work as a stuntman. He eventually achieved speaking roles, going from bit parts to substantial supporting parts in scores of features and short subjects between 1927 and 1938. In 1936 his role in Come and Get It (1936) won him the very first Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. He would win it twice more in the decade, and be nominated for a fourth.
His range was enormous. He could play sophisticated businessmen, con artists, local yokels, cowhands and military officers with apparent equal ease. He most often was seen in eccentric rural parts, often playing characters much older than his actual age.
His career never really declined, and in the 1950s he became an even more endearing and familiar figure in several television series, most famously "The Real McCoys".
He died of emphysema on September 21, 1974 in Oxnard, California, a beloved figure in movies and TV, the target of countless comic impressionists, and one of the best and most prolific actors of his time. He was buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California (Section D, Lot 445, Grave 8). He was married to Ruth Wells from 1920 until his death.
Luke, Kate & Grandpa
Richard Donald Crenna was born on November 30, 1926 in Los Angeles, California) into a modest-income family. His mother managed a small hotel in downtown Los Angeles where Richard and his family resided. When he finished high school he enrolled at the University of Southern California and majored in Theater Arts.
He first appeared on network radio while still a teenager as Ougy Pringle in "A Date with Judy" (1946). When that show was canceled, he was cast in the role of Walter Denton on "Our Miss Brooks" and stayed in the part when the show moved from radio to television (1952). The part called for a gangly, awkward, cracked-voice adolescent. Crenna was a tall, graceful man with a rich voice, yet his acting skills were such that he was easily able to fulfill the character's requirements, leading many viewers to believe that he actually was of high school age, when in fact he was 26 years old at the time.
When the show was canceled he was cast as Luke on "The Real McCoys." He had more than 70 major motion pictures to his credit, including the Rambo series with Sylvester Stallone.
Richard Crenna from pancreatic cancer on January 17, 2003, in Los Angeles, California. He was cremated, and his ashes given to his family. He was survived by wife Penny and three adult children.
Richard Crenna with one of his daughters
Luke and "Sugar-Babe"
Kathleen Nolan was born Jocelyn Schrum on September 27, 1933 in St. Louis, Missiouri.
A lifelong professional performer, she made her debut on a Mississippi showboat called "The Goldenrod" when she was 13 months old. Her gutsy, confident personality was demonstrated on that showboat by her first salary negotiation - at age six! She recalled in 1976: "When I was six years old, I negotiated a raise for myself with the captain of the showboat because I was making 50 cents and everybody else was earning $2.50 a night and I didn't think that was right. So I went to him on my own and I not only ended up with my raise but everybody went up to $3.00. I guess that was my first negotiation."
The whole family performed -- her father, Stephen Ellsworth, mother Clara Kennedy, and sister Nancy. They had their own Circle Stock Company. At 16, Kathleen went to New York and studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner: to get the money to go, she worked a day job at an electrical company, followed by a night shift as a waitress. As "Kathy" Nolan, two of her most notable roles were on Broadway as young "Wendy" in the 1954/55 production of Peter Pan opposite Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, and "Kate McCoy" in the popular TV series The Real McCoys.
In 1964, she joined the Screen Actors Guild board of directors, and in 1973 became the first woman to be elected 1st Vice-President. In 1975, she ran as an independent candidate for Guild President and defeated not only the nominating committee's official choice, Robert Hogan, but three other independents. This victory made her the Guild's first female SAG President. In 1977 she repeated her success by being elected to a second two-year term in which she again defeated the Nominating Committee's choice, Bert Freed this time, and three independents.
Lydia Reed, who played Hassie McCoy, also played Caroline Lord in the Bing Crosby-Grace Kelly-Frank Sinatra film "High Society."
After leaving The Real McCoys, she left acting altogether and is currently a wife and mother living in the San Fernando Valley.
Michael "Little Luke" Winkelman was born on June 27, 1946
After leaving The Real McCoys and finding acting jobs scarce, he too decided to leave acting. He was in armed forces and was later known to have been a greenskeeper at Universal Studios, California.
Michael Winkelman died on July 27, 1999. He was buried at Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California (Plot 50, 0, 4304).
Tony Martinez, who played the McCoy's farmhand, Pepino, was born on January 27, 1920 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A bandleader-turned-actor, he was playing at a Hollywood club when he was discovered by the writing and producing team of Irving and Norman Pincus, who were looking for someone to play Pepino.
Following The Real McCoys, Martinez went on to play Sancho Panza in 2245 performances of Man of La Mancha. His vanity license plate was "PEPINO."
Tony Martinez died of natural causes on September 16, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was survived by his wife Myra and five children: David, Renee, Christian, Lessette and Kimra.
Madge Blake was born May 31, 1899 in Kinsley, Kansas, the daughter of a Methodist circuit rider. She came to Los Angles with her family after her father accepted a religious clerical position. Nearby Hollywood enhanced her desire for a stage career; however, her father was stern in his discouragement and becoming a movie star became only a dream.
During World War II, she joined millions of woman across the nation who filled the manpower shortage by working to help the war effort. Both Madge and her husband worked for the government and their job necessitated top secret clearance as they worked in Utah during construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb.
With all her commitments completed and now a grandmother, she pursued her dream and enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse and studied acting at age fifty. She started performing in nearby Riverside appearing in stage productions where she was noticed by Fannie Brice, who paved the way toward an acting career.
Madge made her film debut in 1949 with an uncredited appearance in "Adam's Rib" with Kathern Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. A prolific twenty years of television and movie appearances followed. Film credits included: A Life of Her Own, Queen for a Day, Finders Keepers, an American in Paris, The Bad and the Beautiful, Singin in the Rain, The Long Trailer, Brigadoon, Sergeants 3, Follow Me, Boys and her final film, Batman. Television credits: The Real McCoys (Flora MacMichael), Leave it to Beaver (Mrs. Mondello), The Joey Bishop Show (Mrs. Barnes) and Batman (Aunt Harriet). Madge made guest appearances on many television shows, including I Love Lucy, Lassie, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Addams Family and Bewitched.
For a bit of trivia: She was offered the role of Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith Show but was unable to accept as she was under contract with the Leave it Beaver show, but was able to recommend her close friend Frances Bavier.
Death put an end to her cherished second career when she fell in her Pasadena home and sustained a fractured ankle. She was admitted to Huntington Memorial Hospital where she passed away on February 19, 1969 at age 69, the result of a heart attack. She was interred beside her mother in the family plot at Grand View Memorial Cemetery, Glendale, California (Plot Section F, Lot 80).
Andy Clyde, brother of actor David Clyde and actress Jean Clyde, was born on March25, 1892 at Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland.
Andy Clyde's more than 40-year film career started on the vaudeville stages and music halls in his native Scotland in the 1920s. He made his way to Hollywood and began as an extra in Mack Sennett comedies, but he was soon moved up to featured player, usually the sidekick or second-banana to the lead. He is best remembered, however, for his many roles as the comedy-relief sidekick in scores of westerns, usually paired with William Boyd in the "Hopalong Cassidy" series as California Carson or with Whip Wilson.
He had regular parts in such TV series as "No Time for Sergeants" (1964) and "The Real McCoys" (1957).
Andy Clyde died of natural causes on May 18, 1967, at the age of 75, in Hollywood, still working. Burial was at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California (Plot Whispering Pines, L-810).