Fun Behind-the-Scenes Secrets About The Beverly Hillbillies
"Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed..." If you just read that in your head to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies' theme song, then you've come to the right place to get your nostalgia on.
In 1962, CBS launched one of the funniest shows to ever hit the airwaves (still true to this day). Let’s take a look at some of the best kept secrets and unknown facts about the legendary actors who portrayed the Clampett clan (and friends) on The Beverly Hillbillies.
Granny Had No Problem Bringing Out Her Inner Slugger
Although Irene Ryan, who played Granny Clampett, was a sweet lady in real life, she had no problem dishing out some hilarious slaps on screen. The Beverly Hillbillies depicted Granny as a sassy old lady who would often slap a little sense into Jethro, the boneheaded member of the hillbilly crew.
Jed Clampett Wasn't Quite as Sharp in the Original Script
When Buddy Ebsen signed on to play the role of Jed Clampett, he had a few stipulations for the show's writers. In the show's original script, Jed was portrayed as uneducated and also utterly lacking in common sense. Ebsen made what turned out to be a good call by insisting there be a bit more smarts to the character.
Elly May Advanced the Popularity of Blue Jeans
Elly May Clampett was a fashion icon in her own roundabout way. Actress Donna Douglas usually wore flannel tops and tight-fitting blue jeans in each episode. Although her hillbilly chic may seem ordinary these days, it was unusual at the time and boosted the sale of denim products.
Buddy Ebsen Started His Career on Broadway
Although most people associate Buddy Ebsen with his iconic performance as Jed Clampett, there was far more to him in real life than acting chops. He was also a singer and dancer who started out as a Broadway star in 1936.
Elly May Once Sued Barbie
Back in 2010, Mattel released a new doll called the "Elly May" Barbie, which featured a photograph of Donna Douglas as Elly May on the packaging. The only problem was the toy company failed to ask for Douglas' permission before creating and selling the doll.
The Show Was Originally Science Fiction
It’s now considered a classic TV comedy, but the show's original premise was beyond strange. When writer Paul Henning was first hashing out the concept for the script, he envisioned a rural family from 1860 time traveling to modern-day New York City.
The Show's Original Title Was Lame
It seems it took the writers a few tries to come up with a title as perfect as The Beverly Hillbillies. It was originally known as The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills. Sound a bit lame and redundant? The producers agreed and went back to the drawing board.
Jethro May Have Sabotaged Max Baer Jr.'s Acting Career
Television work is tricky for actors. They want to become famous, but not so famous for a particular role that no one can envision them as anyone else. If the show does well, they could be guaranteed work for years, but if they become too identified with one character, it could be hard for fans to accept them in another role.
Paul Henning Snuck in a Hometown Shout Out
We don't see much of the Clampett’s journey to Beverly Hills on screen, although the series does have some episodes where they travel back home for various reasons. They certainly didn’t descend from some forgotten hill in California.
The Clampetts Were Filthy Rich (Even in Today's Money)
Everyone knows the Clampett's story, thanks to the show's instantly recognizable theme song. Jed was out hunting on his Ozark property, and he accidentally stumbled upon a gurgling pool of oil. The oil field turned out to be huge, but exactly how much did he make? According to the show, Jed's find netted the Clampett clan $25 million.
Sharon Tate Had a Recurring Role on the Show
Sadly, Sharon Tate's name is usually remembered for her tragic murder at the hands of Charlie Manson’s cult. During her lifetime, the vibrant young actress starred in several TV shows and movies.
Nancy Kulp and Buddy Ebsen Had a Huge Feud
Nancy Kulp played the sometimes brainy/sometimes zany Miss Jane Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies. She was a brilliant lady in real life, and a decade after the sitcom ended, she decided to run for Congress as a Democrat in her home state of Pennsylvania.
Elly May's Critters Were Cared for by the Best
"You’ve got so many critters, looks like the waiting room for the Ark," Jed Clampett once remarked to his daughter, regarding her love for animals. As much as Elly May loved bringing home random creatures, the actress who played her was far too busy to care for them herself.
Buddy Ebsen Delayed Retirement to Play Jed Clampett
Buddy Ebsen first sold The Beverly Hillbillies producers on his acting skills with his performance as Doc Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. When they reached out to him to play Jed, it was only to hear him say he was actually planning on retiring from acting.
The Show Wasn't Shy About Product Placement
As much as you loved The Beverly Hillbillies, their biggest fans were the folks at Kellogg's Corn Flakes. The company was a sponsor and proud to let everyone know it. Each episode ended with a sign off from Kellogg's that rang out "K-E-Double L-O-Double Good. Kellogg’s best to you."
The Location of the Mansion Was (Not So) Top Secret
The mansion that the Clampett family moved into on the show actually exists, although it's not really in Beverly Hills. Located in nearby Bel-Air, the house once belonged to a real estate investor and art collector whose widow agreed to let the show use it. Her only condition was that the location be kept secret.
The Clampett's Truck Sold at Auction in 2015
Ever wonder what kind of truck the Clampett's old jalopy was and where they found it? The now iconic Beverly Hillbillies truck was a 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster. Originally sold for around $2,000, the trusty old roadster came with a large V8 engine.
Raymond Bailey Suffered from Alzheimer's
Mr. Drysdale, the Clampett's overly neurotic banker, was played by actor Raymond Bailey. Although he first started as a day laborer on silent film sets, he ended up scoring the role of a lifetime in the hilarious Mr. Drysdale. He became a breakout character on one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
Granny Scored Her Own Real-Life Cookbook
John Wayne Made a Legendary Cameo on the Show
Once The Beverly Hillbillies became the hottest show of its time, it was never at a loss for celebrity guests. Among the most iconic actors to appear on the show was "The Duke" himself, Mr. John Wayne, who was apparently quite a fan.
Irene Ryan Had Some Stiff Competition for Granny
Before the role of Granny was ultimately awarded to Irene Ryan, another famous actress had her eye on it. TV star Bea Benaderet auditioned for the part, but she understood Paul Henning's decision to go with Ryan after seeing the wiry little actress' audition tape.
Max Baer Jr. Once Sued CBS
Jethro was a simple-minded guy on the show, but the actor who played him was a lot sharper. In 2014, Baer filed a lawsuit against CBS, claiming they had given him the right to use his character, Jethro Bodine, for marketing purposes.
Buddy Ebsen Could Have Been the Tin Man
Long before his role as lovable hillbilly-turned-millionaire, Buddy Ebsen was offered another iconic role. He was initially cast to play the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and even shot a few scenes. Unfortunately, things went horribly wrong when he started having mysterious breathing problems during production.
The Show's Theme Song Became a Billboard Hit
No matter how long it's been since you watched an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, you can probably still hum the opening song's tune on cue. It was actually titled "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" and was written by Paul Henning himself.
Paul Henning's Daughter Voiced Jethrine
In a few episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, we're treated to the hilariously terrifying appearance of Jethro's twin sister, Jethrine Bodine. While the character was blatantly played by Jethro actor Max Baer Jr. in drag, the show's producers realized they needed an actual woman to voice the character.
The Beverly Hillbillies May Soon Hit Vegas
Max Baer Jr. may be the only surviving member of The Beverly Hillbillies cast, but he still has plans to cash in on the show's success. During his lawsuit, he spoke a bit about why it was important to have the character to himself.
Tons of Episodes Accidentally Became Public Domain
The show has always been incredibly popular, but there's another reason so many networks still play its reruns so often. When Orion Television purchased the rights to air the show, they forgot to renew the copyrights to 55 episodes before they expired.
The Show Was One of the Top Sitcoms of Its Time
Although The Beverly Hillbillies wasn't a critical darling, it proved that critics aren’t always right. Audiences were so enthralled with the Clampetts that the show hit number 1 in the ratings after just three weeks on the air.
The Clampetts Were Victims of "Rural Purge"
The Beverly Hillbillies enjoyed a nice nine-year run, but CBS pulled the plug on the popular sitcom in 1971 during the now-infamous "rural purge" of 1970-1975. Apparently, CBS started looking into their demographics and decided western and rural-inspired shows were no longer hip.
The Movie Version Just Wasn't the Same
The series remained a popular favorite in reruns, and Hollywood took notice. In 1993, the Clampetts were set to make their comeback in a movie adaptation of the 1960s sitcom. If you were among those who saw it, we don't have to tell you that it just wasn't the same.