Striking brunette Lori Saunders managed to capitalize on her sunny, daisy-fresh beauty during CBS-TV’s famous 1960s “rural age”, an era in which the network churned out a connected trio of bucolic hit shows — The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Green Acres (1965) and Petticoat Junction (1963). As the studious, slightly ditzy middle daughter, “Bobbie Jo Bradley”, on the last-mentioned show, her role would occasionally “visit” the other two shows. Once Petticoat Junction (1963) was canceled in 1970, Lori crossed over to the The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) set, with a recurring part as banker Drysdale secretary, “Betty Gordon”, on its very last season (1970-1971).
Born Linda Marie Hines on October 4, 1941, in Kansas City, Missouri, Lori studied, for a time, under acting coach Jeff Corey. Her professional career began at age 19, in 1960, with multiple episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952). She then dropped her real name in favor of the stage moniker, “Linda Saunders”, and became a popular presence pitching commercial products on TV (well over 100). She also earned a few standard “pretty girl” film parts, in such minor fare as The Girls on the Beach (1965), Mara of the Wilderness (1965), starring Batman (1966) Adam West, and the horror opus, Blood Bath (1966).
Finding sometime work on such established series as Burke’s Law (1963), Lori finally hit paydirt when she was brought in to replace actress Pat Woodell on Petticoat Junction (1963) as one of the gorgeous Bradley daughters, when Woodell decided to leave in order to pursue a singing career. Lori changed her marquee name for the final time, in order to avoid confusion with the other “Linda” on the show — Linda Henning). During the “Petticoat” run, Lori, Linda and Meredith MacRae formed a brief singing trio career in which they billed themselves as “The Girls from Petticoat Junction”. The trio occasionally sang on the show (as the “Hooterville Honeys”) and one available CD contains original songs (“If You Could Only Be Me”, “Thirty Days Hath September”) as well as established hits from other artists (“Up, Up and Away”). The girls booked a string of nightclubs and fairs, and also made a singing appearance on Johnny Carson’s late-nite show.
Following her TV peak, Lori continued to find acting work, elsewhere, on such shows as Daniel Boone (1964) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969), as well as an occasional TV pilot. She played sweet “Betsy McGuire” for 26 episodes on yet another countrified show, Dusty’s Trail (1973), that co-starred Gilligan’s Island (1964) star Bob Denver and F Troop (1965) star Forrest Tucker. By coincidence, the other femme co-star on that series was none other than blonde Jeannine Riley, who played daughter “Billie Jo Bradley” on Petticoat Junction (1963) at one point but exited the Cannonball, just as Lori was boarding it in 1965.
An attempt to shake up her wholesome image with leading roles in minor film fare did not pan out. Head On (1971), A Day at the White House (1972), Frasier, the Sensuous Lion (1973) and the slasher film, So Sad About Gloria (1973), co-starring Dean Jagger, in which Lori plays a former mental patient tormented by visions of ax murders, did little to advance her career and Lori eventually retired from acting work in 1980, following her appearance in the low-budget sci-fi film, Captive (1980), co-starring Cameron Mitchell and David Ladd.
Married (since 1961) to longtime husband Bernard Sandler, who is retired now as owner and agent of his Commercial Talent Agency, and living in Southern California, the couple have two children, Ronald Sandler and Stacy Sandler. Lori’s long-time creative focus has been on photography, art sculpture and oil painting. She is also a total vegan, an avid outdoors person, into spiritual mediation and involved in many charities involving children/animal rights advocate.
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