A very unlikely hit, The Beverley Hillbillies premiered Sept. 26, 1962. It is the classic “fish out of water” story. The title song tells the story when Jed Clampett strikes oil while hunting. An oil company comes along and makes him an instant millionaire (actually $25 million). He is convinced to move to Beverley Hills to make a better life for his extended family bu cousin Pearl. They find their new life challenging in adapting to city life. Banker Mr. Drysdale has put them up in the mansion next to himself to keep an eye on the family and their money.
The series became an instant hit. It ended up the number one rated TV series for the 1962-3 season and also for the 1963-4 season. It lasted until 1971 when CBS decided to get rid of all their country series.
Buddy Ebsen played Jed Clampett. Buddy had a career as a dancer and actor in Hollywood. He danced with Shirley Temple in the movie Captain January (1936). He played George Russel, the fictional companion to Davy Crockett in the Disney TV movies. Buddy was in the TV series Northwest Passage that ran for one season; 1958-9. It was a western set during the French and Indian War. Buddy later starred in Barnaby Jones. He died in 2003 at age 95.
Irene Ryan was “Granny” (Daisy Moses). Irene had a career in vaudeville, radio and movies. For a while in the early 50s she was on the Bob Hope radio show and toured with him on his overseas USO tours. Irene was nominated for the Emmy Award in both 1963 and 1964 for her role as Granny. She didn’t win. This was to be the only TV series that Irene would star in. She died 2 years after the series was cancelled.
Donna Douglas was Elly May Clampett, Jed’s tom-boy daughter who was known for her beauty and also for all the “critters” that she kept bringing in to the home. One memorable animal was a cat that would swim in their “cement pond” (pool). Donna liked all the animals just as much as her character.
Max Baer Jr. played Jethro Bodine, the son of cousin Pearl. For the first season he also played Jethro’s sister, Jethrine Bodine. Max was the son of Max Baer (Sr.) the heavyweight boxing champion from the 1930s. His character may have had only a sixth grade education but Max had a bachelor’s in Business Administration. Max was typecast after the series ended and couldn’t find any work. He and a friend produced Macon County Line (1974) for about $100.000 and it ended up making over $35 million.
Bea Benaderet was cousin Pearl Bodine (although who’s cousin, we never find out). Bea had been in radio and also did voices for cartoons. I best remember her as the neighbor, Blanche Morton, in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show on radio and TV (1950 – 1958). Cousin Pearl was only in the first season and then Bea was cast as the star of Petticoat Junction but she died in 1968 before the series ended.
Raymond Bailey was banker Milburn Drysdale and Nancy Kulp was his overworked assistant, Jane Hathaway. Plus there were occasional visits by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs who just happened to play the theme song to the series.
Below is episode #47 from the second season. They had to change the theme song as it is still in copyright but this TV episode is the public domain.