Suddenly, the curtain is drawn back to reveal the flustered old man spinning the dials and shouting into the megaphone: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" That's when we found out that the Great and Powerful Oz was just a bunch of special effects. It's an empire built on the simple conceit that no one peeks. It's show biz.
I had echoes of this moment when I read that Frank Cady had died. "Who is Frank Cady?" you ask. He's the guy who played Sam Drucker on "Green Acres." He is also the guy who played Sam Drucker on "Petticoat Junction." He is also the guy who played Sam Drucker on "The Beverly Hillbillies." Sam Drucker's store was the Nexus of Hooterville. Not familiar with Hooterville? I suppose then I am showing my age, but these crossovers and spinoffs left my head spinning as a youth, long before "Happy Days" spawned Laverne, Shirley, Mork, Mindy, Joanie or Chachi. These shows used a lot of stunt-casting to bring in viewers for "events." Sam Drucker was just a guy who happened to show up for a line or two now and then to keep us all rooted in the reality of Hooterville. A thin root I will admit, but root nonetheless.
I have gone years without considering this vast conspiracy, even when I delved into the life and passing of Eddie Albert some years ago. It recalled an incident much earlier in my life when I realized that the clown I was watching in the afternoon named Blinky introduce cartoons was also the nutty old Captain Dooley who introduced cartoons in the morning. It is only now that I can try and wrap my head around what his work day must have been like. This was live television, after all. A pre-dawn call to the makeup chair to get the sideburns and mustache for the Captain, an hour or so of production and cleanup, and then lunch. That gave him just an hour or so to turn around and start to prep for Blinky. Blinky was also in great demand for local charities and public appearances of all sorts, so his day wasn't over until it was time to collapse and start dreaming of doing it all over again. Sam Drucker was just Sam. Same counter. Same apron. Same mild frustration with city folk and their ways. The Great and Terrible Oz had it easy.