8 things we learn about Oliver Wendell Douglas in the Green Acres premiere

His backstory takes up almost half the episode!

The classic sitcom Green Acres starts off in typical zany fashion. In order to efficiently convey the amount of exposition needed in a pilot episode, news anchor and What’s My Line? host John Daly explains everything we need to know about the show as if it’s an evening report, complete with TV screens behind him that show relevant information (like pictures of Oliver as a baby).

It’s a hilarious gimmick that was only the beginning for a show with plenty of meta and absurd gags to come. Here are eight things revealed about Oliver Wendell Douglas in the very first episode of Green Acres.

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1. He was born on a farm near Saratoga Springs, New York.

Oliver was born in a farm house in upstate New York – a fact he cites as a reason he wants to buy a farm. He just wants to return to his roots! Of course, his mother reveals later in the episode that the only reason he was born near Saratoga Springs was because his father wanted to watch a horse race.

2. He was named after a Supreme Court justice.

Oliver Wendell Douglas was named after the real Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes served on the court for 30 years at the beginning of the twentieth century. He attended Harvard Law School, just like the fictional Oliver Wendell, and is one of the most influential justices in the court’s history. Not to mention the fact that he had a fantastic mustache!

3. He wanted to be a farmer since he was a kid.

Oliver (the Green Acres character) knew from a very young age what he wanted to do with his life. At 14, he told his father he wanted to be a farmer. Unfortunately, his father decided the day Oliver was born that he would become a lawyer and didn’t have any say in the matter.

4. He grew up to be the spitting image of his father.

Yes, that’s Eddie Albert playing Oliver’s father in this flashback scene. Apart from a mustache and a stern attitude, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

5. His first job after college was at the law firm Felton, O’Connell, Clay, Blakely, Harmon, Dillon & Pastor.

After graduating from Harvard Law, Oliver got a job as an associate at this many-partnered law firm in New York City. He was a diligent worker but still held dreams of one day living out in the country.

6. He read farming literature on his lunch break.

Though his workday was filled with all kinds of legal briefs, Oliver filled his lunch hour reading things like “Interseeding Legumes in Corn” and “Zinc Deficiency of Field and Vegetable Crops.”

7. He grew mushrooms in his desk drawer.

Oliver even tried his hand at growing something in the office! One drawer of his desk was filled with a layer of earth perfect for cultivating mushrooms. Too bad his boss didn't share his enthusiasm for fungi. 

8. He was a Lieutenant in the Air Force.

Oliver was promptly fired from Felton, O’Connell, Clay, Blakely, Harmon, Dillon & Pastor and was soon drafted into the army. He joined the Army Air Force but even in the sky his love of farming got in the way. When asked to bomb a target he objected because it was right in the middle of a field of ripe tomatoes. In real life, Eddie Albert served in U.S. Army intelligence.

 
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Cougar 26 days ago
I believe he served in the Navy or Coast Guard. He was a coxwain landing Marine's and saved a bunch of men by keeping the landing craft between the enemy and them.
malenecozart 5 months ago
Love to look at Lisa’s beautiful wardrobe
jonethree 11 months ago
Green Acres, what a terrible show. I thought the M was for memorable. Bob Newhart or M T M now those three shows are memorable. And then there’s Night Court, Cheers, Murphy Brown. This is just my opinion and I am probably wrong.
Joe1954 jonethree 23 days ago
You know what they say; "Your taste is all in your mouth". But to each his own. And the only thing memorable about Newhart, regardless of what you thought of his show, is if anyone can be said to have no acting ability, it would have to be Bob. He had the exact deadpan persona in every role I've seen him in.
Heather 12 months ago
Is there any significance to the names in the law firm? They seem awfully specific!
Tim Heather 11 months ago
There does seem to be something weird about them. In the real world, usually just the last names of the partners are used.
Joe1954 Heather 23 days ago
There probably is. Just like those signal flags on McHale's Navy. It hit me one day that those flags could say something, but it was forever before the reruns came on, and they were all in B&W. Between that and finding a chart with the flags' meanings (had to guess at the colors).... But I did finally figure out that they spelled chkl.
UTZAAKE 12 months ago
2. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was the numbnut who wrote the US Supreme Court's logic-defying decision in Federal Baseball Club v. National League which gave Major League Baseball its antitrust exemption.
Joe1954 UTZAAKE 23 days ago
Seems like almost every decision the senile nine makes is logic defying. Like the one where they (in one of the rare unanimous decisions to boot!) decided the Americans With Disabilities Act applied to Pro Sports!
BobD 12 months ago
Eddie Albert worked for Army intelligence before America's entry into the war, But served in the Navy during the war. He won a Bronze Star with a combat "V" for his service at Tarawa.
idkwut2use 12 months ago
I grew mushrooms at home--fun!
ELEANOR 12 months ago
Just think. You have two very talented people who have done many interesting parts in many different movies and they end up doing what? Appearing on a sitcom set on a farm. And then they had to act opposite an animal, a pig who always stole scenes -- that is when he was not busy eating them.

And yes, there are probably many people out there who became lawyers at the behest of their fathers, but really wanted to be farmers, writers, ballet dancers and yes, even actors. And they did probably secretly watch "Green Acres" and did wish that they too could escape to a farm. And maybe some even did.
Pacificsun 12 months ago
What a cute story! I missed the pilot. Your article certainly gives me a greater appreciation for how clever Green Acres really was.

Thanks MeTV!!
I have a feeling that Oliver's boss might have thought that Oliver had taken some of those mushrooms he was growing. He was tripping on them thinking he would someday become a farmer. That's why he couldn't keep his mind on Law.
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