The story about a man named Jed took the ’60s and early ’70s by storm; of course we’re talking about The Beverly Hillbillies.
Jed, Elly May, Jethro and the rest of the characters became household names thanks to the American sitcom.
The series ran from 1962 – 1971 with an impressive nine seasons. This led to tons of Hillbillies merchandise being bought, as well as a spin-off show and even a film in the ’90s.
But what don’t you know about the hit show that made everyone laugh? Here are 17 surprising facts about The Beverly Hillbillies.
1. No. 1 Theme Song
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs are the musicians behind the memorable theme tune for The Beverly Hillbillies. The duo reached number one in the charts with ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’. The guys even had a few cameo appearances in the series themselves!
2. Original Title
When the show first came about in production, it was going to be called ‘The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills’ and it even was for the pilot episode. Producers thought it sounded a lot better as The Beverly Hillbillies so quickly changed it.
3. Hillbillies Casino
Max Bear Jr., actor and son of heavyweight boxing legend Max Bear, played the role of Jethro. After the show came to an end, Junior received the licensing rights for the Hillbillies brand to put on things such as food and slot machines. For years he has dreamed of building a whole casino based on the hit ’60s show, but the plans have always fell through.
4. The Jalopy
The 1921 broken-down Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster appeared in a few episodes, and was a huge hit with the Beverly Hillbillies fans. In 1976, the car was donated to a museum.
5. The Hillbillies Mansion
The Clampett mansion we see in the series is a genuine home. The 1930s mansion was built for $2 million and owned by Arnold Kirkby. He rented out his amazing home to The Beverly Hillbillies for $500 per day.
6. The Owner Was Unfortunately Killed In A Plane Crash
Just a few months before the show aired, Arnold Kirkby tragically lost his life. His wife continued to live in the mansion, but wasn’t impressed by fans gathering outside trying to catch a glimpse of the cast.
7. Sharon Tate
The late American model and TV star Sharon Tate actually appeared in 15 episodes as Janet Trego, a secretary at the bank. The pin-up girl had to work on her acting skills though, with director Joe Depew saying, ‘when we first got her, she couldn’t even walk through the door convincingly.’
8. Ratings Against The Odds
Critics didn’t receive the show well, with The New York Times calling it ‘strained and unfunny’. Despite the critical response, the show did exceptionally well when it came to ratings. The series was one of the most-watched shows in the US with around 60 million viewers! Season two had the highest ratings ever for a half-hour sitcom.
9. Elly May Barbie Doll
Manufacturing company Mattel created a barbie-doll of character Elly Mae, played by Donna Douglas. The actresses sued them for using her image for one of their toy collections without asking for her permission. Sadly, just after the it was settled, the actress passed away.
10. It Broke The Bank
The ’60s show certainly raked in a lot of money from its huge success. There was a growth of $25 million to $100 million by the time the show ended.
It was majorly popular, so of course The Beverly Hillbillies got recognised when it came to awards. It received seven Emmy nominations during the nine years of it being on television – pretty impressive.
12. Where Did The Idea Come From?
Paul Henning came up with the idea whilst visiting Civil War sites in 1959. The concept of the show was the move someone from the South and moving them to a totally different way of life in an upper-class community. Henning wanted to it to be set in New York but it was eventually decided to do it in Beverly Hills.
13. TV’s Rural Purge
Did you know that The Beverly Hillbillies was actually part of TV’s ‘rural purge’? At the beginning of the ’70s, many tv series were cancelled by networks as they were deemed to be limited to a certain type of audience. Channels like CBS wanted to reach more urban and younger viewers, so rural and light-hearted comedies like Hillbillies came into play.
14. Age Gap
Louis Nye starred as Sony in the successful series, with actress Harriet E. MacGibbon playing the role of his on-screen mother. There was actually an eight-year age difference between them, with Harriet being younger!
15. ‘Jed Clampett’
The show wouldn’t have been the same without lead actor Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett, the main character who’s luck turns for the better when he realizes he’s living on an oil field. Esben was liked by many producers back then, even gaining the great role of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
16. Political Drama
Nancy Kulp portrayed Miss Jane Hathaway in the show. When the actress was 62, seven years before passing away from cancer, she ran for the democratic office of the House of Representatives from PA. Her former Hillbillies co-star Ebsen awkwardly campaigned against her, with them both having different beliefs.
17. Jed Didn’t Agree With Her Political Beliefs Either
He even wanted to make a radio campaign against her and supporting her opponent. After she lost the campaign, Nancy lost a lot of respect for her co-star.
The adorable monkeys, who were owned by character Elly May, definitely made the show worth watching. The two cheeky animals were called Bessie and Skipper in real life. They caused a lot of mischief on set.
19. Alzheimers Sufferer
Raymond Bailey, who took on the role of the banker Mr Drysdale, sadly suffered with alzheimers and began to show symptoms whilst on set. He had to quit acting altogether when the disease got too much. He died at 75-years old in 1980.
20. Episode Success
The episode titled ‘Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood’ was the show’s most successful one, with it bringing even more attention to the series. It was even ranked number 62 on the TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes Of All Time in 1997.
21. Barnaby’s Comeback
The detective series Barnaby Jones starring Buddy Ebsen. In 1993, Ebsen returned as his character in the film adaptation of Beverly Hillbillies.
22. Max Baer Tension
Max Baer aka Jethro had a bit of a career fall after the original seasons. He declined the offer to appear as a cameo in The Return of Beverly Hillbillies, but then got angry with producers when he wasn’t invited to star in The Beverly Hillbillies film…
23. He Even Got Involved In Some Law Suits
Max Baer Jr. issued five allegations against CBS for his name being used in a restaurant without his permission.
24. Double Roles
In Season 1, Max Baer Jr. actually played double roles – both Jethro and his twin sister Jethrine! Linda Henning, the daughter of writer Paul, voiced over Jethrine’s character sometimes.
25. Writer – Paul Henning
Talented screenwriter Paul Henning was the mastermind behind The Beverly Hillbillies. The hit show wasn’t actually his first successful piece of work. In the early ’60s, Henning wrote Petticoat Junction which built up a huge worldwide fanbase.
26. Granny’s Cookbook
Award worthy actress Irene Ryan played the role of Granny in the hit show, with her particularly recipe of ‘vittles’ being her most famous. This inspired many Beverly Hillbillies cookbooks to be released, filled with recipes, photos and character profiles.
27. Age Rumours
There was constant speculation that Irene Ryan who played Granny was actually younger than Donna Douglas who played Ella May. Fans thought Ryan’s Granny-look was just loads of make up – but it turns out she was indeed 30 years older than Donna.
28. Kelloggs Adverts
At the end of the opening credits, Jed points out something towards the left of the camera – he’s pointing to a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes billboard, the sponsor of the show.