The Show “The Beverly Hillbillies”, Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This was an amazingly popular comedy series in the 1960’s and very early 70’s. It is about a poor, backwoods family who strike oil on their swamp land down south somewhere, then move to Beverly Hills, California.
The head of the family is Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), Jed was actually out trying to shoot their dinner when he accidentally shoots and finds oil, changing his family’s lives forever.
J.D. “Jed” Clampett (Buddy Ebsen)-Jed is the widowed head of the family who has had very little in the way of formal education. Nonetheless, he does have a good deal of common sense, which is lucky for him as the rest of his family, put quite simply, does not. He is a good-natured man who is loyal and kind, as well as an excellent marksman. He lives with his mother-in-law, daughter, and the son of his cousin, (although he addresses Jed as his uncle). After discovering the untapped riches on his land, Jed is then paid an absolute fortune by the OK Oil Company so that they can acquire the rights to drill on his land. After this, his cousin Pearl (Bea Benaderet) convinces him that he needs to move to California, especially since finding out that his humble little property could yield as much as $25 million dollars. Although Jed still misses the old ways back in the hills, he does make the best of his new life. When he has something on his mind, and can’t seem to come up with an answer, he sits down on the curbstone of his big, expensive mansion and whittles until he comes up with one. Whenever a situation calls for it, his favorite catchphrase is, “We-e-e-ell doggies!”
Daisy Mae Moses “Granny” (Irene Ryan)-Granny, as she is called by everyone, is Jed’s mother-in-law. A true daughter of the “South”, she believes in the old southern ways and is a confederate to her soul. She also has a very strange way of retelling things such as, “The War Between The States” or “Sherman’s March”, in that her version brings the South out to be the winners. No amount of explanation ever convinces her otherwise. She also believes herself to be a “dunked” (not “sprinkled”) Christian with forgiveness in her heart. She hates blue-coat Yankees and what she calls “revenuers”, and is a self-proclaimed “mountain doctor”. Of course Granny thinks that she knows more than the educated, expensive city doctors, and therefore when she does go about one of her more painful procedures (for example: leech bleeding or pulling teeth with pliers), instead of the widely-accepted and much easier (on the patient at least) anesthesia, she uses what is called her “white lightning” concoction. Granny is short and small, but with the attitude of a very large man. She can be aggressive, though about most things she is overruled by Jed. She has been known on many occasions, to brandish a double-barreled shotgun at a person or persons whom she deems to be deserving of it, and this includes firing off a shot! The only problem with this being that Granny is very near-sighted, which, thankfully, usually makes her miss. Granny does have two very strong fears however, these being Indians and the swimming pool (as she has a great fear of water). Of course she refers to these things as “Injuns” and the “cement pond”.
Elly May Clampett (Donna Douglas)-Elly May is the only child of Jed Clampett. Though she has the body of a model, and a beautiful smile to go along with it, the heart and soul of her very being cries out to be and act like a backwoods tomboy. A firm lover of animals, she treats them better than most of the people that she comes across, although she does admit as she gets older that “fellas kin be more fun than critters”. She has many dates throughout the show’s run, from Hollywood actors to a U.S. Navy frogman. But none of them seem to have that element that Elly May is looking for in a husband. Although this may have something to do with the fact that she cannot cook, no matter how hard she tries. Elly May also tends to dress the same way they did back home (and all still do), with blue jeans and rope belts and her hair in pigtails. But she at least does wear more modern clothes every now and then.
Jethro Bodine (Max Baer, Jr.)-Jethro is the son of Jed’s cousin, Pearl Bodine. Known by all (including the family) to be somewhat of an imbecile, Jethro drove the family to California and then decided to stay with them in order to further his education. The family is very proud of the fact that Jethro has a “sixth-grade” education, and upon arriving in Beverly Hills decides to go to college. Of course this is not what really happens, although Jethro is kept in the dark about it. He is constantly searching for just the right career, and tries out a large number of them. Jed also makes the remark at one point, that Jethro is the only baby that he ever knew that was born with a full set of teeth! This of course is in reference to the amount of food that Jethro is able to consume. He is known as the “six-foot stomach”.
The Drysdales (Raymond Bailey, Harriet E. MacGibbon and Louis Nye)-The Drysdales are the next door neighbors of the Clampett family. Milburn Drysdale is the president of the Commerce Bank, where Jed keeps all of his money. To say that Mr. Drysdale is infatuated with money is a vast understatement. On top of this he is also an incredible cheapskate. When he is suffering from an anxiety attack, all he has to do is sniff a pile of money and he instantly starts to feel better. He is often the confidant for the Clampett family and despite his wife’s distaste of them, convinces her and other people to appease their often strange requests. Just so long as he gets to keep the Clampett’s ever-growing account at all costs. In 1969, that amount was $96,000,000 (equivalent to over $600,000,000 in today’s world). Margaret Drysdale is Milburn’s arrogant wife, a blue-blooded Bostonian who despises the whole backwoods family, but hates Granny most of all. On several occasions she and Granny get into an altercation, usually requiring Jed and/or Mr. Drysdale to pull them apart. And lastly there is Sonny. Sonny is Mr. Drysdale’s lazy, mama’s boy of a stepson. He does not believe in working up a sweat and has a fondness for Elly May. They date only briefly.
Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp)-Miss Hathaway (as she is referred to by most, with the exception of the Clampetts who call her “Miss Jane”) is the hard-working, efficient and decent secretary of Mr. Drysdale. Because of her boss’s greed, she is often forced to go against her better judgment and carry out his requests, though she heartily disagrees with him. Sometimes, when she is no longer able to tolerate his selfishness and utter gluttony or when one of his schemes goes too far for her, she would forcefully utter the word, “Chief!” Many times, Miss Hathaway is actually forced to help Mr. Drysdale out of his stupid and ridiculous schemes, although the thanks she gets for this is usually little of none. It is later revealed that she graduated from Vassar and gave up a position as the top secretary of the top executive at the best insurance firm, in order to become Mr. Drysdale’s secretary at the bank. And Miss Hathaway, unlike everyone else in California, is actually very well-liked by the Clampetts, even Granny. They consider her a part of the family, and she in turn feels the same way about them.
This series is original and funny and puts a great spin on that “fish out of water” type show. The characters are all well thought out and portrayed by just the right choice of actors. I give this show 7 out of 10.
Jed Clampett-Buddy Ebsen
Granny Clampett-Irene Ryan
Elly May Clampett-Donna Douglas
Jethro Clampett-Max Baer, Jr.
Milburn Drysdale-Raymond Bailey
Jane Hathaway-Nancy Kulp
Margaret Drysdale-Harriet E. MacGibbon
Sonny Drysdale-Louis Nye
Cousin Pearl Bodine-Bea Benaderet
Shorty Kellems-Shug Fisher
Helen Thompson-Danielle Mardi
Jethrine Bodine-Max Baer, Jr./Linda Henning
Janet Trego-Sharon Tate
John Brewster-Frank Wilcox
Elverna Bradshaw-Elvia Allman
Mark Templeton-Roger Torrey
Dash Riprock-Larry Pennell
Sam Drucker-Frank Cady
Patricia Switzer-Judy Jordan
Steve Elliot-Mike Minor
Lawrence Chapman-Milton Frome
Gate Guard-Ray Kellogg
Miss Gloria Buckles-Bettina Brenna
Lester Flat as himself
Earl Scruggs as himself
Foster Phinney-Charles Lane
John Faversham-Richard Caldicot
Jasper ‘Jazzbo’ Depew-Phil Gordon
Bobbie Jo Bradley-Laurie Saunders
Miss Murray-Venita Wolf
Shifty Shafer aka Honest John-Phil Silvers
Flo Shafer-Kathleen Freeman
Homer Cratchit-Percy Helton
Buddy Ebsen was offered the part of the Scarecrow in the timeless classic, “The Wizard of Oz”. (He ended up switching roles with Ray Bolger who had been the original choice for the Tin Man.) However, Ebsen later became ill from inhaling the aluminum powder that was a part of the silver make-up being used. Due to a lengthy hospitalization, he was then replaced by Jack Haley. However, right up until the day that he died, he complained of lung problems from his involvement in what he termed, “that damned movie”. There is still footage of Ebsen as the Tin Man, and this was included as an extra bonus with the “Wizard of Oz” U.S. 50th anniversary release. There is also one chorus of the famed, “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, still in the actual movie, that contains Ebsen’s voice before he was replaced.
Irene Ryan (Granny) used to join Bob Hope on his very famous military tours, and she became known as “the gal who makes Bob Hope laugh”.
Max Baer, Jr. is the son of boxing champion, Max Baer.
The Beverly Hillbillies was on for nine seasons, and ranked in the top twenty of most watched programs on TV, eight out of the nine seasons.
The pilot episode release date premiere of “The Beverly Hillbillies”, was also the same day as Donna Douglas’ (Elly May Clampett’s) 29th birthday.
Near the end of his life, while in the hospital, Buddy Ebsen was visited by two of his former co-stars, Donna Douglas and Max Baer, Jr.
The headstone of Irene Ryan actually contains the word “Granny” on it.
Nancy Kulp (Jane Hathaway) joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1944, as a member of Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, otherwise known as WAVES.
Raymond Bailey tried to be an actor on three different occasions in Hollywood. After the first failed attempt he became a stockbroker and (ironically) a banker. Later he sailed on various freighters and travelled around the world. And after the start of World War II, he also joined the Merchant Marines.
The theme song of the show, sung by Jerry Scoggins and backed by Flatt and Scruggs. Flatt and Scruggs later cut their own version with Flatt singing for Columbia Records. Released as a single, it reached #44 on the “Billboard Hot 100” pop music chart in 1962. And it went all the way to #1 on the “Billboard Hot Country” chart. Strangely enough it was the pair’s only country chart-topper.
Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett) was married three times and had a total of eight children.
Much like her character on The Beverly Hillbillies, Donna Douglas grew up in the south, a self-described tomboy and a lover of animals.
The house used for the Clampett family’s home was the Kirkeby mansion. It was actually located in Bel-Air and not Beverly Hills. Also, the agreement between Arnold Kirkeby and “Filmways Productions” was that the grounds were to be cleaned up immediately after filming, they filmed just the exterior of the house and that the address was never to be disclosed to the public. However, after the fourth season of the show had begun, it became obvious that Mrs. Kirkeby had broken the agreement that her late husband had made, because the mansion’s address was definitely leaked. This of course caused a continual flow of visitors and tourists who would constantly show up on the property looking for the Clampetts. As a result, “Filmways Productions” was no longer allowed to film either any long shots of the mansion’s grounds or the mansion’s exterior after that.
Though Nancy Kulp was at one time married, she later indicated to an author during an interview, that she was actually a lesbian.
Max Baer, Jr. (Jethro Bodine) only auditioned for the part of Jethro because he had driven his roommate to the audition for the same part. He actually won the role without even speaking a word. All he did was chase a bird around the room, all the while making odd facial expressions and gestures. And this alone was enough to impress the producers’ and convince them that he was the perfect choice for the part.
Before Irene Ryan died, she had no surviving relatives and an estate worth over $1 million dollars. Because of this, she made the decision to start the “Irene Ryan Foundation” for theatre thespians.
The Beverly Hillbillies was so popular that it helped to inspire two other “rural” type of shows, “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres”. However, in 1971, despite still respectable ratings, CBS cancelled the Beverly Hillbillies, and at the same time also cancelled both “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres”. CBS wanted to get rid of the image most people had of them as a “rural network”. Most people basically felt that “CBS cancelled every show with a tree in it”.
The Clampett family’s truck was a 1921 Oldsmobile.
Harriet E. MacGibbon (Margaret Drysdale) was married to the same man, William R. Kane, not once but twice.
Though Donna Douglas received more fan mail than any of the other cast members, she spent many hours personally answering fan mail and signing photographs.
Irene Ryan’s screen test for the role of Granny was apparently so fantastic, that according to all accounts, she came in and “blew everyone away”. The test still exists today and is actually included with the DVD set as an extra.
At the age of 93, Buddy Ebsen managed the incredible feat of becoming a best-selling author. The title of the book was, “Kelly’s Quest”. Also, in the last two years of his life, he recorded his own, as well as his first, CD. Some of the songs that Ebsen sang were actually his own.
Just before production on the pilot episode began in December of 1961, Buddy Ebsen has been seriously considering retiring from show business. However, after he received a copy of the script, he changed his mind.
In the 1960’s Max Baer, Jr. was a Hollywood buddy of singer, Elvis Presley.
When Nancy Kulp (Jane Hathaway) made her Democratic congressional bid in Pennsylvania in 1984, her former co-star, Buddy Ebsen helped to defeat her. He made radio ads for her opponent, Bud Shuster, accusing her of being too liberal. After many years of not speaking, the two eventually settled their differences.
The Beverly Hillbillies rose to #1 in the ratings faster than any other television show within the first three weeks of its premiere. This is an achievement that is unmatched even to this day. It also remained at #1 for the next two years.
After becoming an extremely proficient sailor, Buddy Ebsen applied for a position in the U.S. Navy as World War II was starting. He was repeatedly turned down. He was accepted to the Coast Guard though and given the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade.
The eight episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies that aired after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, are, to this day, the most-watched half-hour shows in all of television history.
Donna Douglas has written two children’s books. The latest was in 2011.
Part way through the series, beloved actor John Wayne, made a cameo appearance on the show. When he was asked the question of how he wanted to be paid, he is actually quoted as saying: “Give me a fifth of bourbon-that’ll square it.”
Shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday, Buddy Ebsen died from complications due to pneumonia. After his death, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the sea.
As of 2011, The Beverly Hillbillies, according to Zap2it.com, had thirteen episodes that were ranked in the “Top 100 Nielsen Rated Shows” of all time.
After The Beverly Hillbillies ended, Irene Ryan co-starred with Ben Vereen on Broadway in the musical, “Pippin”. Unfortunately, during the production’s run and despite wonderful reviews, Ryan became ill and died soon after.
Max Baer, Jr.’s father, boxer Max Baer, was portrayed in the movie, “Cinderella Man”. His son however, was not pleased with the unsympathetic portrayal of his father. In particular the part where the character brags about killing a man in the ring. Baer, Jr. said that it was something that haunted his father for the rest of his life, and he often cried about the incident.
Raymond Bailey (Milburn Drysdale) wore a toupee while playing on The Beverly Hillbillies.
Buddy Ebsen was also in the popular series, “Barnaby Jones”, a mere two years after The Beverly Hillbillies ended. After eight seasons the show was cancelled because Ebsen decided to retire from acting. He was later on the series, “Matt Houston” briefly, as well.
In an amazing coincidence, Buddy Ebsen is one of only four Illinois-born nonagenarians to have passed away a Hollywood legend from what is termed the “Golden Age” of television, in the first decade of the 21st century. The other three were Karl Malden, Eddie Albert and President Ronald Reagan.
Fellow cast members Donna Douglas and Buddy Ebsen had several things in common. Both were republicans, character actors and gospel singers. Ebsen was also Douglas’ acting mentor. Incidentally, Ebsen was the acting mentor of Max Baer, Jr. as well.