Even though The Beverly Hillbillies was not always a hit among the critics, it was one of the biggest shows of the ‘60s. Not only that, but it has even cemented its status as one of the most popular television shows ever. The sitcom went on for nine seasons, during which Americans got to keep up with a family that moved to a rich Beverly Hills neighborhood after earning a fortune after the discovery of oil on their property. To this day, the show runs in syndication, and fans across the generations love it. Did you know that it is one of the most-watched television shows in history? We have more fun facts about this hit sitcom for you, so you better get ready!
It Was Not At All Immune To Criticism And Hatred
The show was one of the top twenty most-watched television programs. There are a few episodes that are among the most-watched episodes in television history as well. When it was on the air, the show was nominated for the Emmys seven times. Even though it saw success, hatred, and criticism. According to The New York Times, it was “strained and unfunny.” Meanwhile, Variety reported that the show was “painful to sit through.” However, this piece of criticism happens to be this one: “If television is America’s vast wasteland, the ‘Hillbillies’ must be Death Valley.”
A Political Feud Between Old Colleagues
Nancy Kulp was the name of the actress who brought Miss Jane Hathaway to life. Not only did she play Mr. Drysdale’s secretary, but she also decided to try her hand at politics after her acting career. At the age of 62, she ran for office as the Democratic nominee of Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives. She and Buddy Ebsen, her co-star in The Beverly Hillbillies, reportedly did not get along with one another back in the day. He volunteered to work on a radio campaign to support her political rival and even said that his old colleague was “too liberal.” In the end, Kulp lost the bid and felt bitter about what he did.
The Mansion Did Not Cost A Lot
There is a rumor spread by Paul Henning, the creator of the show! He only paid $500 for permission to shoot in the mansion in Bel Air. It was used as the house of the main characters after they got rich. This price is a great deal, especially when you consider just how much he would need to pay now.
It Has A Recognizable Theme Song
The theme song of the show was called “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.” Originally performed by a country-western musician called Jerry Scoggins, it also featured a bluegrass duo called Flatt and Scruggs. This song was the trademark of the show, and it is very recognizable. In 1962, it even reached the 44th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
John Wayne Came To Fight Off The ‘Injuns’
During the fifth season of the show, John Wayne made a guest appearance in an episode called “The Indians Are Coming.” Granny talked on and on about hoping that John Wayne would appear to fight off the “Injuns.” If you don’t know what that is, it is simply Indians pronounced with an accident. Near the end of the episode, he appears in the flesh and fulfills her dreams. Allegedly, he was happy to take nothing more than a fifth of bourbon as his talent fee for the cameo.
Sharon Tate Played A Recurring Character
In this day and age, Sharon Tate is best remembered as a victim of the senseless Manson family killings. Maybe you also know her as the late wife of Roman Polanski. However, let us not forget that she played a recurring role on the show! She made around 15 appearances throughout the sitcom in the role of a bank teller called Janet Trego. Some people failed to recognize her thanks to her brunette wig!
The Only Surviving Main Cast Member
Max Baer Jr. is the only surviving member of the main cast. He played Jethro Bodine, the daft nephew of Jed Clampett, in The Beverly Hillbillies. It was his dream to create a bunch of restaurants, casinos, and hotels based on the show in Nevada.
The Mattel Doll Controversy
Elly May was portrayed by actress Donna Douglas. Even though the character was not exactly the princess type, toy company Mattel decided to use her character as part of its Barbie dolls Classic TV Collection. In 2011, the actress sued Mattel for this. They did not get her consent before they based the doll off of her! The actress decided to settle the suit in the end.
How To Cook Fried Possum
Played by actress Irene Ryan, the character of Granny was best known for cooking fried possum on the show. We know that this does not sound appetizing at all, but there have been plenty of cookbooks and recipes inspired by her cooking. If you are interested in recipes, character profiles, and photos, you should check out Granny’s Beverly Hillbillies Cookbook.
The Man Behind Barnaby Jones
Buddy Ebsen played the titular character on a detective series called Barnaby Jones. The show aired on CBS for 7 years from 1973 to 1980. This was the same character that Ebsen portrayed in the 1993 film adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Its TV Ratings Started With A Bang
Even though it did not get the approval of critics, the show was a hit. Just three weeks into its run, it reached the top spot in television ratings. This meant that it had the fastest rise to the first spot in all of television history! It even held onto this title for two seasons and then maintained a position in the top twenty for eight years. It only went dropped out of the list during the last season.
This Role Ruined His Career
Maximilian Adalbert Baer Jr. is an American actor who starred in the show as Jethro Bodine. By taking on this role, he believed that he was limiting himself to a certain type of role and ultimately killing his acting career. Over the years, he has played other bit characters. However, he mostly did work as a writer, producer, and director after the show came to an end.
Every Beginning Eventually Comes To An End
It is undeniable to say that the show has made a name for itself. In 1971, however, a CBS executive by the name of Fred Silverman said that there were already too many “rural” shows on the network. The network felt concerned that it was getting typecast for this niche market. This was the reason the show got a cancellation order.
Meet The Jalopy
It might not be an actor, but we bet that you will agree with us when we say that the 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster was a star in its own right. In May 1976, Paul Henning donated it to the museum for its bicentennial celebration. In 1967, this beaten-up vehicle crossed the ocean for a couple of episodes that were shot in England. It later got dismantled after going on Clampett adventures across the pond!
With High Ratings Come More Sponsors
If a show has high ratings, it is going to get more interest and money from sponsors. If you look at the Clampett fortune, it went up from $25 million to $100 million over the course of the show! Cool.
A Rejected Novel Became A Bestselling Book
When Buddy Ebsen, who brought Jed Clampett to life, decided to retire from acting, he decided to write a novel with the title Kelly’s Quest. The collection of poems revealed the story of a young girl as she experienced joy and heartbreak, learning important lessons on love and life along the way. He pitched it to nine publishers, who all rejected it. This made the actor publish it on his own. In 2001, the novel reached the number 3 spot on the paperback best-seller list of Los Angeles Times.
The Film Adaptation
In 1993, the movie adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies came out. Sadly, it did not reach the same success that the original series did. Aside from the critics, fans also gave it the thumbs down. It might have something to do with the fact that other actors played these beloved characters. The film received criticism for its failure to capture the charm of the show. Someone even said that it was “one of the worst movies of this or any year.”
The Original Plan
In 1959, Paul Henning had been on a trip in the South checking out Civil War spots with his mother-in-law. This was when he came up with the idea for The Beverly Hillbillies. It was based on the idea of taking a person from the rural South and then putting them in a modern and more sophisticated place. Originally, he wanted to have New York as the setting. However, the location had to be changed to Los Angeles thanks to budget restraints.
Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood
Can you guess which was the most successful episode of the show? It was none other than “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood.” The best episode of the show also helped it attract more fans and attention! In 1997, TV Guide said that it was among the 100 Greatest Episodes Of All Time. How awesome is that?
The Silly Symphonies Animation
Buddy Ebsen was a talented actor-dancer who did vaudeville, appeared on the Broadway stage, and starred in films with actresses like Judy Garland and Shirley Temple. It is pretty neat to hear that his willowy dance style was used as the inspiration behind Silly Symphonies by Disney.
Doing Double Duty
There were moments in the first season that Max Baer Jr. had to do double duty. Aside from playing Jethro, he also had to play his twin sister, Katherine. If you were wondering about the voice, it was provided by none other than Linda Kaye Henning. She is the daughter of the series creator!
The Iron Hillbillies
There were only three actors who appeared in all episodes of the show. Mind you, there were 274 episodes throughout its nine seasons! They are Donna Douglas, Irene Ryan, and Buddy Ebsen.
Jed Clampett Was Supposed To Be Different
When The Beverly Hillbillies was first conceived, the writers wrote the character of Jed Clampett as a stereotypical “hick.” However, Buddy Ebsen was able to convince the producers to do it differently. This made them remold the character into someone wiser, even though he lacked formal education. They instead gave the “dumb” lines and airhead tendencies to Jethro, his nephew.
The Show Had A Few Reunions
Following the end of the series, the cast members of The Beverly Hillbillies only reunited twice. When they did the first one, Raymond Bailey and Irene Ryan already passed away. Kulp, Douglas, and Ebsen appeared in the film since Max Baer Jr. turned down the offer and got replaced. It showed Jed living in the country, Jethro producing movies, and Ellie May running a zoo. The second reunion was called The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies and was released in 1993. It was both an episode and a celebration featuring Baer, Douglas, and Ebsen. At the time, they were the only surviving members of the main cast. They also appeared on an episode of the Jerry Springer talk show!
Now On Public Domain
Thanks to a clerical error made by Orion Television, there are 55 episodes of the show that are in the public domain. They happen to be the 36 episodes of season one and the 19 episodes of season two. This resulted in many low-budget DVD releases and small-network airings of the episodes. This means that they are much easier to access than the rest of the seasons of The Beverly Hillbillies. We don’t know about you, but it is a good idea to take advantage of this!