“The Beverly Hillbillies” is a classic American sitcom that originally aired on CBS (a Filmways production) from September 26, 1962, to March 23, 1971. The show was created by writer and director Paul Henning and became one of the most popular TV shows of its time.
This innocent family of hillbillies strikes oil in the hills where they live. Now they are millionaires and their friends tell them “to move to Beverly, Hills that is” as the song states. The sitcom revolves around the Clampett family’s hilarious and often fish-out-of-water experiences as they navigate their newfound wealth and adjust to life in Beverly Hills.
Dell Comics adapted the series into a comic book series in 1962. The artwork was provided by Henry Scarpelli. The comic ran for 18 issues, ending in August 1967.
Throughout the series, the Clampetts’ unique perspectives on life and their unconventional ways of handling situations create numerous comedic scenarios. Whether it’s throwing a hoedown in their Beverly Hills mansion, attempting to adapt to high society, or encountering perplexed neighbors, the show masterfully uses their cultural clash for laughs.
Despite their wealth, the Clampetts’ down-to-earth nature and genuine kindness often win over the hearts of those around them, and they form unlikely friendships with various residents of Beverly Hills. These relationships and interactions, along with their rural charm, endear them to the audience.
“The Beverly Hillbillies” combines humor, warmth, and satire to explore themes of family bonds, societal differences, and the pursuit of the American Dream. It remains a beloved classic sitcom, remembered for its memorable characters and the enduring charm of the Clampett family.
- Jed Clampett (played by Buddy Ebsen): Jed is the patriarch of the family, a kind-hearted and wise man with a strong sense of family values. Despite being immensely wealthy, he remains down-to-earth and tries to maintain his simple lifestyle, often clashing with the extravagance and materialism of Beverly Hills. He whittles a lot and mostly tries to keep the peace in the family. His catchphrase is, “Welllllll, doggies!” Ebsen began his film career in Broadway Melody of 1936. He also appeared as a dancer with child star Shirley Temple in Captain January (1936). He also played Barnaby Jones on TV (1973–1980).
- Granny (Daisy May “Granny” Moses) (played by Irene Ryan): Jed’s mother-in-law, a feisty and traditional hillbilly woman with a penchant for folk remedies (Dr. Granny), making lye soap, her tonic (moonshine) or “rheumatiz medicine”(she was always worried about revenuers comin’ ’round), cooking vittles and superstitions. She is a devout Confederate and fancies herself Baptist Christian (“dunked, not sprinkled”). Ryan was an actress and comedian who found success in vaudeville, radio, film, television, and Broadway.
- Elly May Clampett (played by Donna Douglas): Elly May is Jed’s beautiful, tomboyish daughter. Raised in the mountains, she is an expert in outdoor skills, loves animals and has a unique charm. Her innocence and naivety about city life create humorous misunderstandings and quirky situations. She climbs trees, keeps lots of pets in the house, swims in the cement pond (swimming pool), and is the worst cook ever. Following her acting career, Douglas became a real estate agent, gospel singer, inspirational speaker, and author of books for children and adults.
- Jethro Bodine (played by Max Baer Jr.): Jethro is Jed’s dim-witted nephew who accompanies the family to Beverly Hills. Jethro is the driver of their pick-up truck and has a bottomless pit for a stomach. He often provides comic relief with his outrageous and ill-advised schemes to become successful in the city. Despite his lack of intelligence, he is good-hearted and enthusiastic. He uses his 6th-grade education and tries to become a double-naught spy (like 007), a brain surgeon, a bank executive, a playboy, and much more. Baer’s first acting role was in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Blackpool Pavilion in England in 1949. He began acting professionally in 1960 at Warner Bros., where he made appearances on television programs such as Maverick, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, Cheyenne, The Roaring ’20s, and 77 Sunset Strip.
Ebsen, Ryan, Douglas, and Baer Jr. appeared in all 274 episodes
- Milburn Drysdale (played by Raymond Bailey): Milburn is the Clampetts’ banker and the president of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills. He is responsible for managing the family’s fortune but frequently finds himself in challenging situations trying to cater to their rural sensibilities. He is their next-door neighbor and a money-hungry banker. His interest is to keep the Clampett’s money in his bank at all costs. Bailey was an actor, and comedian on the Broadway stage, in films, and on television. He was in movies including No Time for Sergeants, Hell’s Kitchen, Sabina, Tarantula!, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and The Absent Minded Professor.
- Jane Hathaway (played by Nancy Kulp): Jane is Milburn Drysdale’s efficient and loyal secretary. She is smitten with Jethro and her attempts to win his affection lead to comical mishaps. Jane often finds herself caught between her professional duties and her personal feelings for the Clampetts. Kulp was an actress, writer, and comedian and appeared in films, including Shane, Sabrina, A Star is Born, Forever, Darling, The Three Faces of Eve, The Parent Trap, Who’s Minding the Store?, The Aristocrats and The Night of the Grizzly.
- Pearl Bodine (played by Bea Benaderet): Jethro’s mother and Jed’s cousin, who occasionally visits the Clampett mansion. Bea Benaderet also provided the voice for Betty Rubble in “The Flintstones”, and her best-known role was Kate Bradley in Petticoat Junction.
- Milton Drysdale (played by Alan Reed): Milburn Drysdale’s abrasive and hot-tempered stepson, who often disapproves of the way his father manages the Clampett account. He was a veteran radio actor who supplied the voice of the TV cartoon character “Fred Flintstone”, and created the phrase “Yabba Dabba Doo”.
- Beatnik/Hippie (played by Alan Reed Jr.): In one episode, the Clampett family takes in a hippie after he has an accident because he couldn’t take his eyes off Ellie May as he passed the Clampett estate. Another episode dealt with saving the hippie coffeehouse to which Milburn Drysdale held the deed and wanted to evict the Beatniks. In two later episodes, “Robin Hood of Griffith Park” and “Robin Hood and the Sheriff”, Reed returns, leading a merry band of hippies who encounter the Clampetts fresh off their trip to England.
- Sonny Drysdale (played by Louis Nye): Milburn Drysdale’s effeminate and eccentric son, who is constantly at odds with his stepmother, Margaret Drysdale. Nye was one of those delightfully pretentious comic actors you loved to hate, his flip manner and faux rich boy arrogance possessing his characters no matter what social stature they were. He was in movies including Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978), and Cannonball Run II (1984).
- Margaret Drysdale (played by Harriet E. MacGibbon, later replaced by Shirley Mitchell): Milburn Drysdale’s snobby and socialite wife, who often clashes with the Clampetts’ rural ways. She is always looking for a way to get rid of them. MacGibbon had a long and distinguished stage career in New York before entering the movies and television.
- Miss Hathaway (played by Nancy Kulp): Jane Hathaway’s prim and proper cousin, who occasionally appears and has her own interactions with the Clampetts.
- Dash Riprock (played by Larry Pennell): A handsome and charming actor who becomes Elly May’s love interest during the series. Pennell was an actor, known for Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), Quantum Leap (1989), and Our Man in Jamaica (1965). Prior to his acting career, he was a professional baseball player for the Boston Braves (1948-53).
- Jethrine Bodine (played by Max Baer Jr.): A recurring character where Max Baer Jr., who portrayed Jethro, also portrayed Jethrine, Jethro’s twin sister, as part of comedic situations.
- Mrs. Drysdale’s Mother (played by Margaret Kerry): A quirky and eccentric elderly woman, Mrs. Drysdale’s mother, occasionally visits the Drysdale’s, adding to the hilarity. Kerry was a screen actress, dancer, voice artist, camera double, radio producer, director and host, and media personality, best known for her work as a model for Walt Disney Pictures, where she served as the inspiration and pantomimed the Peter Pan character of Tinker Bell.
- Cousin Bessie/Chimpanzee/Little John (played by Judy the Chimpanzee): Judy the Chimpanzee is known for Jambo (1969), Daktari (1966), and The Magical World of Disney (1954). She appeared in 29 episodes of Beverly Hillbillies and played “Debbie the Bloop” in Lost in Space (1965). Judy was discovered in the jungles of Kenya and came to the United States at one month of age.
- Shorty Kellems/Scraggly Farmer (played by Shug Fisher): Fisher saddled up with Roy Rogers in his Western films and sang with the renowned group “Sons of the Pioneers.” He was on the Ripcord (1961) adventure series and appeared in several films and TV episodes for Walt Disney in later years.
- Duke: The family hound dog was uncredited and appeared in 47 episodes.
- Skipper: The chimpanzee was uncredited and appeared in 20 episodes.
- Rusty – Cat, Matilda – Cat (played by Orangey): The cat appeared in 18 episodes, and swam in the cement pond.
Paul Henning (September 16, 1911 – March 25, 2005) was an American writer, producer, and creator of iconic television sitcoms. He was born in Missouri and began his career in the entertainment industry as a songwriter and country music singer. Henning gained widespread recognition and success as the creator and writer of popular TV shows, including “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Petticoat Junction,” and “Green Acres.”
His sitcoms often featured humorous portrayals of rural characters adapting to city life, leading to cultural clashes and comedic situations. These shows became enduring classics and contributed significantly to American television history. Paul Henning’s contributions to the entertainment industry and his ability to create beloved and memorable characters have left a lasting impact on TV comedy.
A Few of the Actors Who Made an Appearance on the Show
- Flatt and Scruggs (Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs): The famous bluegrass musicians, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, appeared as themselves in two episodes. They performed the show’s iconic theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” which became a hit single and remains one of the most recognizable television theme songs in history.
- Sammy Davis Jr.: The legendary singer, actor, and entertainer made a guest appearance as himself in one episode. He interacted with the Clampett family during his visit to Beverly Hills.
- Phil Silvers: The comedic actor, known for his role as Sergeant Bilko, guest-starred as himself in one episode, where he gets involved in amusing situations with the Clampetts as Shifty Shafer aka Honest John.
- Milton Berle: Another comedy icon, Milton Berle, appeared as himself in one episode, bringing his humor to the show.
- Jesse White: This actor, famous for playing the Maytag Repairman in commercials, made a guest appearance as himself on “The Beverly Hillbillies” as Jesse White: H.H.H. Jones/Mr. Mortimer.
- Liberace: The renowned pianist and showman Liberace appeared as himself in one episode, adding a touch of glamor and extravagance to the show.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor: The Hungarian-American actress and socialite made a guest appearance as herself in one episode, interacting with the Clampett family.
- Jimmy Dean: The country singer and actor, known for his hit song “Big Bad John,” made a guest appearance as himself.
- Roy Rogers: The legendary singing cowboy and actor appeared as himself, meeting the Clampetts during one of their adventures.
- Dale Evans: The wife and frequent co-star of Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, also appeared as herself in the same episode.
- Boris Karloff: The iconic horror actor, best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster, made a guest appearance on the show.
- John Wayne: The legendary actor and symbol of the Wild West appeared as himself in a special guest appearance. He visited the Clampett family at their mansion in Beverly Hills, leading to a comedic and entertaining encounter between the Hollywood legend and Granny. John Wayne’s appearance on the show was a significant event for both fans of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and admirers of the actor himself. His guest spot further solidified the show’s popularity and cultural impact during its run.
- Jim Backus – The voice of Mr. Magoo and well known as Thurston Howell II on Gilligan’s Island played Marty Van Ransohoff in an episode. He also portrayed James Dean’s father in the classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
- Sharon Tate was an American actress and model. During the 1960s, she played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. She was in the movie Valley of the Dolls and was killed on August 9, 1969, by members of the Manson family.
The show’s theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, was written by producer and writer Paul Henning and originally performed by bluegrass artists Foggy Mountain Boys, led by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The song is sung by Jerry Scoggins (backed by Flatt and Scruggs) over the opening and end credits of each episode. Flatt and Scruggs subsequently cut their own version of the theme (with Flatt singing) for Columbia Records; released as a single, it reached number 44 on Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart and number one on the Billboard Hot Country chart (the lone country chart-topper for the duo).
The show was in Black-and-White from 1962 until 1965 and then was presented in Color through 1971. It ranked first in the Nielsen ratings in its first two seasons and remained in the top 20 until the end of its eighth season.
In 1962, the Clampett fortune was $25 million, and when adjusted for inflation, it’s actually closer to $215 million by today’s standards. By the end of the show, that number had reached $100 million, which would be approximately $850 million in our current economic age.
The Clampett’s Bel-Air residence of late media mogul A. Jerrold Perenchio has sold for the highest price in California history, about $150 million. The buyer is Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and co-chairman of publishing company News Corp., The Times has confirmed. One of the Clampett’s quirks was their fancy eatin’ table which was a pool table. They thought that the rhinoceros head above the table was an animal called “the billiard”.
- Granny “Elly May done popped the buttons off her shirt again.”
Jed “Elly May carries herself proud with her shoulders throwed back.”
Granny “It ain’t her shoulders that have been poppin’ these buttons.”
- Jed “That’s the thing about salted down possum, it’s just as good the second day.”
- Mr. Drysdale “– and furthermore, if you are late on your mortgage payment one more time you will be thrown out into the street –“
Miss Jane “Chief, she’s eighty-five years old and in a wheelchair.”
Mr. Drysdale “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know — change that to read, you will be wheeled out into the street.”
- Miss Jane “Now, Chief, in all fairness to the employees, you do not display much holiday spirit.”
Mr. Drysdale “What do they want from me? I gave them half a day off on Christmas.”
- Jed “If brains was lard, Jethro couldn’t grease a pan.”
- “The Beverly Hillbillies” (updated July 27, 2023) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beverly_Hillbillies
- IMDb: Paul Henning – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0377132/
- Los Angeles Times: Paul Henning, 93; TV Producer Created ‘Beverly Hillbillies,’ ‘Petticoat Junction’ – https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2005-mar-27-me-henning27-story.html
- The New York Times: Paul Henning, 93, a Creator Of TV Sitcoms That Lampooned Rural Life – https://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/28/arts/television/paul-henning-93-a-creator-of-tv-sitcoms-that-lampooned-rural-life.html
- “The Beverly Hillbillies” (accessed July 29, 2023) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055662/fullcredits
- “10 Facts About The Beverly Hillbillies You Never Knew” (MAR 22, 2020) https://screenrant.com/beverly-hillbillies-facts-never-knew/#it-broke-1-ratings-records
- “The Beverly Hillbillies Quotes” https://www.poemofquotes.com/quotes/film-tv/the-beverly-hillbillies-quotes