How much did you know about Universal’s hugely successful Ma and Pa Kettle series from the late 1940s?
Judging from the couple’s expressions above (Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) it’s not too hard figure out how the hillbilly couple produced 15 offspring. Yes, despite all, they dug each other.
Ma was the feisty, salty one. Pa was, shall we say, more contemplative, a man who enjoyed a good snooze. They for a time ranked among classic Hollywood’s hottest couples — at least at the box office.
Before we get to the answers to our Ma and Pa Kettle Quiz, here’s a sampling of their films.
Third title in the Kettle series.
Second in the Kettle series.
Seventh in the Kettle series.
And, eighth of the series. In all there were 10 Kettle films made.
Now, on to our Quiz answers:
1) Question: Marjorie Main won an Oscar for her portrayal as Ma Kettle but despite her principal role in the series, the award was in the supporting actress category, not best actress. a) True; b) False?
Answer: b) False. Main was nominated in the best supporting actress category for The Egg and I, the 1947 introduction of the cinematic Kettles but she didn’t win (Celeste Holm did for Gentleman’s Agreement).
2) Question: What was the source of the Kettle’s financial windfall that allowed them semi-luxurious home of the future? a) A big lottery win; b) Winning a long shot contest sponsored by a big magazine publisher; c) Winning a slogan-writing contest for tobacco purveyor; d) Gambling winnings in Las Vegas.
Answer: c) It was Pa Kettle who emerged the winner of a tobacco slogan-writing contest. The winnings afforded the Kettle brood the wherewithal to move from their dowdy farm to a relatively sleek modern house. The transition wasn’t smooth and thus the comedy premise.
3) Question:Ma and Pa Kettle comprise a hillbilly couple who didn’t stint in the marital sex department, resulting in their very large family. How many children did they have? a) Three; b) nine; c) 12; or d) 15.
Answer: As mentioned above, there were (d) 15 offspring.
4) Question: Which of the following name actors played more or less key supporting roles in the Ma and Pa Kettle movie series? a) Billy House; b) Richard Long; c) Ray Collins; or d) Esther Dale.
Answer: ALL of them did. Richard Long is the oldest of the Kettle kids. Billy House is a fulsome salesman. Ray Collins is the father of Long’s wife (Meg Randall). Esther Dale is “Birdie Hicks,” not one of the Kettle’s kindest neighbors. By the way, Long and House can be seen to great advantage in Orson Welles’ The Stranger, a thriller released a year before the Kettles were introduced.
5) Question: In the first of the Kettles movie appearances, they were cast besides two major stars not normally associated with hillbilly films. Which two of the following are they? a) Fred MacMurray; b) Nancy Davis; c) Claudette Colbert; or d) Lana Turner.
Answer: a) and c). In 1947’s The Egg and I, MacMurray and Colbert play sophisticated city dwellers who move to a chicken farm in the boonies. The couples’ neighbors are — the Kettles in supporting roles. Ma and Pa proved so popular that they transition to stars of next nine Kettle films.