Elmer Calvin Patterson
October 9, 1888
Springville, Alabama, US
|Died||August 23, 1975 (aged 86)|
Woodland Hills, California, US
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)|
Elmer Calvin "Hank" Patterson (October 9, 1888 – August 23, 1975) was an American actor and musician. He is known foremost for playing two recurring characters on three television series: the stableman Hank Miller on Gunsmoke and farmer Fred Ziffel on both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.
Patterson was born in Springville, Alabama, one of seven children of Green Davis Patterson, an insurance agent, and Mary Isabell "Mollie" Newton Patterson. By the 1890s his family had moved to Taylor, Texas, where he spent most of his boyhood and attended school through 8th grade. In 1917 he registered for a World War I draft card in Lubbock County, Texas.
Patterson had intended to be a serious pianist, but he instead became a vaudeville piano player. By the end of the 1920s he moved to California. He entered the movie business as an actor during the 1930s. His earliest identified screen work was an uncredited appearance in the Roy Rogers' Western film The Arizona Kid (1939).
Movies and TV
Patterson found plenty of movie work, mainly playing cantankerous types as well as blacksmiths, hotel clerks, farmers, shopkeepers and other townsmen, usually bit roles and character parts in Republic Pictures westerns, and then in popular TV westerns such as The Cisco Kid, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Lone Ranger, and Annie Oakley. He also had small cameo appearances in a number of sci-fi movies by Bert I. Gordon: Beginning of the End, The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the Puppet People, and Earth vs. The Spider.
Patterson played recurring or different roles in adult/family TV westerns, including the role of "Hank Miller" in 33 episodes of Gunsmoke from 1962 through 1972, on Have Gun-Will Travel (eleven episodes), Death Valley Days (nine episodes), Tales of Wells Fargo (seven episodes), Maverick (four episodes), Cheyenne (four episodes), Wagon Train (three episodes), Daniel Boone (three episodes), The Virginian (two episodes), The Rifleman, Bonanza, and in episodes of Lawman, Bat Masterson (in a recurring role as former Confederate Soldier Soda Smith), The Restless Gun, and many others. In 1959 Patterson appeared as a sodbuster in an uncredited role on Lawman ("The Young Toughs").
He made additional TV appearances, including three episodes of The Twilight Zone as well as Perry Mason, Burke's Law, The Untouchables, Judd for the Defense, My Three Sons, and in later years The Mod Squad and Love, American Style and Highway Patrol.
In 1963 Patterson first appeared in what would become a recurring role as farmer Fred Ziffel on the popular CBS rural comedy Petticoat Junction. In 1965 CBS debuted another rural comedy, Green Acres. Both series were set in the mythical farming community of Hooterville, with characters from Petticoat Junction often also appearing in Green Acres, including Patterson's Fred Ziffel character. It was on the popular, irreverent Green Acres that Patterson earned his greatest fame. In 1965 and 1966—two of the years in which the two series ran concurrently—Patterson frequently appeared in both shows in the same week in primetime.
The association of Patterson's character with the popular character Arnold, the pet pig whom Fred and his wife Doris treated as a son, ensured Patterson a place in TV history. Arnold attended school, watched TV and was a talented artist, piano player, and actor. He even "talked" (snorted, grunted and squealed) in a language that everyone in Hooterville seemed to understand except Oliver Wendell Douglas (Green Acres co-star Eddie Albert).
According to westernclippings.com "Characters and Heavies" by Boyd Magers, "Ironically, by the time Patterson was doing 'Green Acres' he was in his late 70s and almost completely deaf, but the producers loved his portrayal so much they worked around his hearing impairment by having the dialogue coach lying on the floor out-of-shot tapping Hank's leg with a yardstick as a cue to speak his line."
Hank Patterson was married to Daisy Marguerite (Sheeler) Patterson, a Kentucky native four years younger than Hank whose parents were both of German ancestry. They are listed together in both the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census residing in Los Angeles. In the 1940 census, Hank's occupation is listed as "Actor, Motion Picture Studio & Stage."
Patterson's great-grandfather, James Pearson, was an original settler of St. Clair County, Alabama, as was his mother's great-grandfather, Thomas Newton. His great-grandfather, Henry S. Patterson, moved to Blount County, Alabama, around 1857 from Murray County, Georgia. Between 1894 and 1897, the family left Alabama to live in Texas.
- The Arizona Kid (1939) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Sabotage (1939) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Covered Trailer (1939) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Three Faces West (1940) - Pool Player (uncredited)
- Abilene Town (1946) - Doug Neil
- The Scarlet Horseman (1946) - Sen. Masters (uncredited)
- I Ring Doorbells (1946) - Mr. Bradley
- The El Paso Kid (1946) - Jeff Winters
- Conquest of Cheyenne (1946) - Rancher (uncredited)
- Wild Beauty (1946) - Ed (uncredited)
- Santa Fe Uprising (1946) - Deputy Jake
- Gallant Bess (1946) - Ranch Hand (uncredited)
- Bells of San Angelo (1947) - Deaf Bus Passenger
- Robin Hood of Texas (1947) - Taxicab Driver (uncredited)
- Springtime in the Sierras (1947) - Old-Timer
- Under Colorado Skies (1947) - Slim
- The Tender Years (1948) - Zeke (uncredited)
- Relentless (1948) - Bob Pliny (uncredited)
- Oklahoma Badlands (1948) - Postmaster Fred
- Panhandle (1948) - Old Timer (uncredited)
- Night Time in Nevada (1948) - Dancing Tramp
- The Denver Kid (1948) - Sergeant Cooper
- The Plunderers (1948) - Stage Manager (uncredited)
- Belle Starr's Daughter (1948) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Red Canyon (1949) - Osborne (uncredited)
- Outcasts of the Trail (1949) - Hank Barris - Station Agent (uncredited)
- The James Brothers of Missouri (1949, Serial) - Duffy [Ch. 4] / Duffy 
- The Cowboy and the Indians (1949) - Tom - Ranch Foreman
- Tell It to the Judge (1949) - Sleigh Driver (uncredited)
- Riders in the Sky (1949) - Luke - Stagecoach Driver
- Perfect Strangers (1950) - Witness in Montage (uncredited)
- Code of the Silver Sage (1950) - Sgt. Woods
- No Sad Songs for Me (1950) - Night Construction Workman (uncredited)
- Please Believe Me (1950) - Sam Smith (uncredited)
- The Gunfighter (1950) - Jake (uncredited)
- Desperadoes of the West (1950, Serial) - Hardrock Haggerty [Ch. 4, 5]
- The Return of Jesse James (1950) - Clay County Marshal
- Al Jennings of Oklahoma (1951) - Jeff (uncredited)
- Silver City Bonanza (1951) - Postman
- Don Daredevil Rides Again (1951, Serial) - Buck Bender
- Indian Uprising (1952) - Jake Wilson (uncredited)
- Rose of Cimarron (1952) - Hunter on Trail (uncredited)
- California Conquest (1952) - Sam Lawrence (uncredited)
- Woman They Almost Lynched (1953) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders (1953, Serial) - Jed Larson [Ch.2-5]
- Jack Slade (1953) - Old Tom (uncredited)
- Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) - Wagon Driver (uncredited)
- Southwest Passage (1954) - Barstow (uncredited)
- Many Rivers to Cross (1955) - Second Innkeeper (uncredited)
- Murder Is My Beat (1955) - Medical Examiner (uncredited)
- Tarantula! (1955) - Josh
- Last of the Desperados (1955) - Hank - Wagon Driver (uncredited)
- The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) - Turner - Friendly Jailer (uncredited)
- The Lone Ranger (1956) - Old Man Kimberley (uncredited)
- The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) - First Cowhand in Courtroom (uncredited)
- Strange Intruder (1956) - Knife Sharpener (uncredited)
- Julie (1956) - Ellis
- The Storm Rider (1957) - Tom Milstead
- Beginning of the End (1957) - Dave
- God Is My Partner (1957) - John Biddle (uncredited)
- Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) - Scotty, Stage Door Man (uncredited)
- Gunsight Ridge (1957) - George Clark (uncredited)
- The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) - Henry
- Escape from Red Rock (1957) - Sheriff Grover
- Day of the Badman (1958) - George Foley (uncredited)
- Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Janitor
- Terror in a Texas Town (1958) - Brady (uncredited)
- Earth vs. the Spider (1958) - Hugo the Janitor
- The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958) - Gil Henry (uncredited)
- The Decks Ran Red (1958) - Mr. Moody
- Monster on the Campus (1958) - Townsend - Night Watchman (uncredited)
- Tales of Wells Fargo (1959 episode Lola Montez) - Larson
- No Name on the Bullet (1959) - Ed - Chess Player (uncredited)
- Lone Texan (1959) - Jack Stone (uncredited)
- Gunmen from Laredo (1959) - Stableman (uncredited)
- Gunfighters of Abilene (1960) - Andy Ferris (uncredited)
- The Absent Minded Professor (1961) - Fisherman Spectator (uncredited)
- Tammy Tell Me True (1961) - Rural Character (uncredited)
- Straightaway (1961 episode "The Tin Caesar") – Parker
- The Virginian (1964 episode "Smile of a Dragon") - Old Man
- A Covenant with Death (1967) - Old Man (uncredited)
- Green D. Patterson family, United States Census of 1910, Taylor, Texas. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- Green D. Patterson family, United States Census of 1900, Taylor, Texas. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- "Elmor C Paterson", United States Census of 1900. Taylor, Texas. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- "Hank Patterson - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
- "View Free Records with a Free Account". interactive.ancestry.com.
- "Elmer Calvin Patterson" United States Draft Registration cards, Lubbock County, Texas, 1917-1918. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Eder, Bruce. "Hank Patterson" biographical profile. AllMovie. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Character reference to Hank Patterson, ". . . and the Other Hard Living Citizen's (sic) of Dodge", gunsmoke.net. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Siler, Bob (2011). "Homes of the Western Stars – The GUNSMOKE Tour". Charles Starrett – One Fan's Journey (stevesomething.wordpress.com.), November 17, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- "Hank Patterson - TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
- TV.com. "Have Gun - Will Travel: In an Evil Time". TV.com.
- "Have Gun - Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume Two". DVD Talk.
- "Classic TV & Movie Hits - Tales of Wells Fargo". www.classictvhits.com.
- "CTVA US Western – "Tales of Wells Fargo" (Revue/NBC) Season 6 (1961–62)".
- Magers, Donna. "Hank Patterson". www.westernclippings.com.
- "Favorite Hank Patterson Episode?". Twilight Zone Cafe.
- "Perry Mason TV Series Wiki - EpisodePages / Show38". www.perrymasontvseries.com.
- Times, Los Angeles. "Green Acres". latimes.com.
- "Frequently Asked Green Acres Questions". www.maggiore.net.
- "FamilySearch". familysearch.org.
- Marik, A. J. (2002). "Hank Patterson", Find a Grave memorial (6079802) with biographical profile and related photographs created January 9, 2002. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Leoni Online: The Articles – Elle Magazine Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine