6 things you never knew about the Green Acres theme song!
This catchy tune helped lighten the mood of astronauts and was nailed in one take by a certain star.
We could argue all day over what the greatest TV theme song is. That is the beauty of classic television. But we will insist that Green Acres is part of the conversation. We're not alone in that thinking. Another TV legend has our back — but more on that later.
So let's take a deep dive into this sing-along theme song. Sure, it's hooky, but it's also important. See for yourself.
1. It was the first theme song sung by leading actors.
From the Fresh Prince to Lee Majors crooning about "The Last Stuntman," it has become quite common for stars of a series to sing the theme song. The Brady Bunch and Archie Bunker did it. But Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were the groundbreaking duo to do it first.
2. The untrained Eva Gabor nailed her part in the first take.
Deciding to have the actor sing was a stroke of genius. There was one hitch — Eva Gabor was not a singer. Composer Vic Mizzy had to coach Gabor through her inging. Mizzy said he gave this note to Eva, "What you have to do is sing it like you're a high class, Park Avenue woman… sing it like you're a debutante or something.” Not a singer, Gabor was nervous when it came time to lay it down, but with Mizzy's advice, she managed to nail it in the first take! Yep, you're hearing her first attempt each time!
3. The credit sequence was constructed before the song was written.
The way it typically works is that a composer writes a theme song and then the producers cut together an opening credits sequence to the ditty. Green Acres flipped the process. Vic Mizzy first envisioned the credits and explained how they should be shot. "I started writing the thing backwards, and I said to [series creator] Jay Summers, can you get a helicopter to zoom in and on the side of the barn, it says Green Acres?" Mizzy recalled. "And I’ll calibrate it electronically. And I said could you photograph the store, have her opening up packages, the chores, when he’s pitching hay. Fresh air, Times Square. It cost money for that. He had to do set-ups for that. But he loved it." Once Mizzy had all the visuals in his mind, right down to the pitchfork clanking on the ground, he got down to writing the music you just heard him play and sing.
4. The song was used by NASA to cheer up astronauts following the Challenger disaster.
Following the horrific tragedy of the Challenger, NASA pressed forward with its third Space Shuttle, the Discovery. Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan, the first American to walk in space, was part of the Discovery team in the late Eighties. In her memoir, Handprints on the Hubble, she wrote, "The fun part of my job was choosing the wakeup music…. After the pain and sadness of that awful day in January 1986 when Challenger went down… [i]t was important to me… to lift everyone's spirits." Sullivan reached out to local radio guy named Mike Cahill, who wrote "funny space songs" set to popular songs. One of those comedic space songs was written to Vic Mizzy's Green Acres theme. The tune just makes people happy no matter what the situation — or where.
Image: Associated Press
5. Vic Mizzy also wrote the most popular anti-jaywalking song of all time.
Outside of the Green Acres theme, Vic Mizzy is best known for his snappy Addams Family theme. But the composer has a pop music career that spans decades, as he penned hits for Doris Day and the Andrews Sisters. But Sixties children of the New York area probably have his public service announcement stuck in their heads. Mizzy wrote "In the Middle, In the Middle, In the Middle," perhaps the catchiest anti-jaywalking tune in history. The quirky pop act They Might Be Giants covered it on their hit children's album.
6. The creator of the Simpsons thinks it's the greatest. Well, almost.
In a 2007 issue of Spin magazine, Simpsons creator Matt Groening reflected on his biggest influences and favorite pieces of media. "Outside of The Simpsons… I think the greatest TV theme song of all time has got to be The Jetsons," he admitted. "Vic Mizzy's Green Acres theme follows right behind." That's okay, Matt, we can live with that. The Jetsons are on MeTV, too.
Image: The Everett Collection