The comedy Green Acres had one of the more memorable theme songs on TV. The TV show also had some pretty unforgettable characters, like perfectly coiffed Lisa Douglas and Arnold the Pig. But not all of the characters on the show were pure fiction. In fact, one of Green Acres‘ characters was inspired by Colonel Tom Parker, the real-life manager of rock ‘n roll legend Elvis Presley.
‘Green Acres’ was “the place to be”
Airing from 1965 to 1971, Green Acres was part of CBS’s line-up that included The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. The lead roles of Oliver Wendell Douglas and Lisa Douglas were played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
The comedy centered around the Douglases’ move from New York City to Hooterville, as the couple adjusted to rural life and running a farm. And Hooterville was full of colorful characters like Eustace Charleton Haney, known on the show as simply “Mr. Haney.”
Mr. Haney was played by Hollywood veteran Pat Buttram
Mr. Haney was a salesman, always peddling a product or service that didn’t quite live up to his promises. Whether it was a tractor that fell apart or a washing machine that blew up, Hooterville’s residents often fell victim to the conman. Mr. Haney’s character featured prominently in the show and he appeared in most episodes.
Mr. Haney was played by actor Pat Buttram. Like his co-stars Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert, Buttram had an established acting career by the time he starred on Green Acres. According to Mental Floss, Buttram even once met Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, on a movie set. Later on, when Buttram starred on Green Acres, he used Parker as his inspiration for the role of Mr. Haney.
Colonel Tom Parker was a real-life conman
Throughout Presley’s career, the world knew Colonel Tom Parker as a music producer born in West Virginia. But he wasn’t from West Virginia or even the U.S, and his name wasn’t even Tom Parker. Smithsonian Magazine details Colonel Tom Parker’s colorful, complicated life. It seems that Parker pulled off the ultimate con—leaving his home country and assuming a whole new identity.
Parker was actually born in the Netherlands as Andreas van Kuijk. Why van Kuijk abruptly left the Netherlands in 1929 and changed his name is still a mystery. Not only was Thomas Andrew Parker a fake name, but the title of “Colonel” wasn’t exactly earned. While Parker did briefly serve in the U.S. military, he was a private. The title of “Colonel” was reportedly given to him by Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis for “political services rendered.”
The whole truth about Parker didn’t come to light until the 1980s, after Presley’s death. However, there was one red flag during Presley’s career that may have tipped off fans that something wasn’t quite right with Parker. Presley was world-famous, but aside from three concerts in Canada, he never performed outside of the U.S. This is likely due to the fact that Parker never became a U.S. citizen and thus didn’t have a valid passport. When Presley had those concerts in Canada, Parker stayed behind.
Parker died in 1997 but his influence lives on. Not only did he inspire the character of Mr. Haney on Green Acres, but he was featured on CMT’s TV show, Sun Records.
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