Let’s take a trip down memory lane and all the way to the upper-class Beverly Hills in 1962. The Beverly Hillbillies provided us with loads of laughs and entertainment, but the producers did manage to keep quite a couple of secrets hidden from the fans, and we have just discovered them now.
Critics Didn’t Like It
As big of a success that the show was, and after taking home a total of seven Emmy nominations, many TV critics didn’t actually enjoy the show. Critics found the show “strained and unfunny” and “painful to sit through.” Still not bad for one of the most watched programs on TV.
From Acting to Politics
Nancy Kulp played the part of Miss Jane Hathaway, but moved on to politics after her television career and ran for office for the US House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.
Very Cheap Mansion
Paul Henning – the creative mind and creator behind the show paid $500 to film in a Bel Air mansion. This was the mansion that the Beverly Hillbillies lived in after striking their gold in the show.
Not a Supporter
Buddy Ebsen – the key player in the show Jed Clampett, was not a supporter of Nancy’s political efforts and even volunteered to make a radio campaign in support for her opponent. They never really got along on set either, she ended up losing the campaign and lost a lot of respect for him for doing that to her.
Location of the Mansion
The owner of the mansion, Arnold Kirkeby was unfortunately killed in a plane crash just a few months before the show aired. His wife continued to live in the mansion and agreed that the location’s address wasn’t allowed to be revealed. However, fans discovered the address and would gather around hoping to catch a glance of the cast members.
Maximilian Adalbert “Max” Baer Jr, is best known for playing the role of the dimwit Jethro Bodine. He believes that this role limited his acting career and opportunity of playing other types of characters. After Beverly Hillbillies, he stuck to writing, directing and producing.
Disguised Sharon Tate!
Famous as being one of the victims of the Manson Family killings, Sharon Tate played a recurring role in the show. She was disguised with a brunette wig and appeared about 15 times on the show!
Not officially an actor, but the old 1921 broken-down Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster made an iconic impression on the series. The car was donated to a museum in 1976 for its Bicentennial celebrations. The car had even been shipped across to England for a few episodes.
Beverly Hillbillies certainly made big bucks in the television industry. The success of the show was outstanding, and when taking a closer look at it, a growth of just $25 million to $100 million to the end of the show’s airing was no small feat.
The Original Spark
Paul Henning came up with the idea on a trip through the South while visiting Civil War sites in 1959. The whole concept was based on taking someone from the rural South and moving them to the middle of a total parallel universe of a upper-class community. The original plan was to hit off the series in New York , but due to logistics and costs, the location was changed to Beverly Hills.
Best Episode Ever
“Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” was ranked as the TV show’s most successful episode, and brought in even more attention to the show and gained more fans to the series. The episode alone was ranked #62 on the “TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes Of All Time in 1997”. Wow!
Almost the Tin Man
Jed Clampett, played by Buddy Ebsen, was a successful actor and dancer who featured on Broadway and in films with Shirley Temple and Judy Garland. He was cast as the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz”, but later switched to act as the Tin Man after Ray Bolger signed on. He ended up having a serious reaction to the aluminium metallic makeup and had to drop out due to illness. Although he blamed the movie for his health and kung problems, he ended up living longer than all other ajor cast members.
Max Baer Jr., who played Jethro Bodine issued five allegations against CBS for using his name in a restaurant. CBS knew what the restaurant chain was doing, but instead of notifying Baer, they entered into a secret settlement agreement without filing a lawsuit or telling the plaintiff.
Raymond Bailey played the role of the banker Mr. Drysdale who managed the Clampetts’ fortune, but sadly the actor began to show signs of Alzheimers during his last few years on set. In fact, it was very apparent in the last two or three episodes, resulting him in having to quit acting altogether. He passed away in 1980 at the 75v years old.
During season one, Max Baer Jr. sometimes played a double role of Jethro and his twin sister – Jethrine Bodine. Linda Henning, the daughter of the series creator, Paul Henning, is also an actress and voiced over Jethrine Bodine’s voice.
Sonny’s Real Name
Sonny was Margaret Drysdale’s son from a previous marriage. His actual last name was never revealed and he was always known as Sonny Drysdale. However, we now know his real name is Adonis.
Animals On Set
Frank Inn served as an animal trainer, and he was also the one responsible for providing the animals used on the show as Elly May Clampett’s “critters”.
Beverly Hills Barbie
Donna Douglas played the part of Jed Clampett’s “critter-loving” daughter – Elly May. She wasn’t really the princess type, yet Mattel’s Classic TV Collection featured her as one of the three Barbie dolls. As an honor as it is, Douglas sued Mattel for using her as a doll without her consent. Her main issue was the packaging, which featured a black and white photo of the actress. She ended up settling the suit.
Granny’s Cooking and Cookbook
Emmy Award-nominated Irene Ryan; the vaudeville actress played the famous and loved role of Granny. She was famous for cooking up “vittles”, and while the thought of fried possums doesn’t sound so appetizing, many cooking books and recipe were inspired by Granny. Granny’s Beverly Hillbillies Cookbook, rated for its recipes, photographs and character profiles.
The TV detective series, Barnaby Jones, starred Buddy Ebsen and Lee Merriweather as a father and daughter-in-law running a private detective firm in Los Angeles. Ebsen appeared as this character in the 1993 movie adaption of his famous TV show, the Beverly Hillbillies.
Ratings, Ratings, Ratings
Beverly Hillbillies snagged the number one spot in the TV ratings, just 3 weeks after being aired for the first time! It was the fastest rise to the number 1 spot in television history. It stayed there for a record-breaking 2 years and maintained its position in the top 20 for an amazing 8 seasons.
There were constant rumors spreading that Irene Ryan was actually younger than Donna Douglas, but wore extensive makeup as Granny. Ryan was born in 1902 and Douglas was born in 1933. Ryan was in fact 31 years older than Douglas. Buddy Ebsen later joked after the “Beverly Hillbillies” family members had ended how could anyone even believe such a naive thing.
At the end of the opening credits you willl notice Jed pointing out something to the others towards the left camera. In the network broadcasts, the camera pivots to show that Jed is pointing to a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes billboard, the sponsor of the show. As the car drives past it, the theme song continues, changing to the then current slogan “K-E-Double L-O-Double Good. Kellogg’s best to you”.
Elly May Clampett’s two pet chimpanzees were named Skipper and Bessie.
The theme song for the show, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, was sung by Jerry Scoggins and also featured the bluegrass duo Flatt and Scruggs. The song ended up being a trademark of the show and even landed itself on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #44 in 1962.
Watching to Reading
Buddy Ebsen wrote a novel called “Kelly’s Quest” long after his retirement from showbiz. It was a collection of poems revealing the story of a young girl’s journey of joy through to heartbreak, including important lessons about love and life. After being rejected by 9 publishers, he decided to go ahead with publishing it himself and the novel made it’s way up to #3 on the Los Angeles Times paperback best-seller in 2001.
Veteran character actress and voice artist Bea Benaderet was the first to be considered for the role of Granny. However, Benaderet was too large and “busty” to fit that image. Reportedly, Bea Benaderet, herself recommended Irene Ryan for the role, who came in and “blew everyone away” with a wonderful screen test, which still survives today and is included as an extra on the DVD set.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Buddy Ebsen was offered the role of Jed Clampett based on the impression of his playing a similar role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).
Buddy Ebsen had seriously considered permanently retiring from show business, before filming and production began on their debuting together of The Beverly Hillbillies: The Clampetts Strike Oil (1962), in December of 1961.