“Well, listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed,
Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude’
Oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea”
This catchy ditty by bluegrass legends Flatt and Scruggs led millions of viewers each week into the world of The Beverly Hillbillies. The show was never a critical favorite (critics…who needs ’em?) but always did well with viewers, drawing in an audience of nearly 60 million each week during its peak years. It was also instrumental in popularizing the ‘high-concept’ sitcom with television audiences (a lead that would later be followed by shows like Gilligan’s Island).
The story (like the theme explained) focused on the Clampetts, a hillbilly family in the Ozarks that became unexpectedly rich after finding oil beneath their property. Jed, widowed patriarch of the clan, decided to pack up the family and their new millions so they could move to Beverly Hills, the land of ‘swimming pools’ and ‘movie stars.’ The rest of the clan included daughter Elly Mae, nephew Jethro, and Jed’s mother-in-law, Granny.
Upon arrival, the family deposited their $25 million fortune into the Commerce Bank. This automatically brought them to the attention of the bank’s president, Milburn Drysdale. Since the Clampetts were now his bank’s most important customers, Mr. Drysdale decided to take them under his wing. He did so by moving them into a grand mansion next to his own home, much to the displeasure of his snooty socialite wife, Mrs. Drysdale.
Most of the show’s plotlines stemmed from Mr. Drysdale’s either trying to make the Clampetts more civilized or creating some sort of diversion to keep them from becoming too homesick to stick around. That wacky Drysdale attempted to enroll Jethro in elementary school, got a medical practice for Granny, and made endless attempts to find Elly Mae a suitor. Mr. Drysdale’s main assistant in these many capers was his officious but always capable right-hand, Miss Hathaway.
The show also got endless mileage from ‘fish-out-of-water’-themed humor as the Clampetts tried to come to terms with everything from indoor plumbing to political corruption. Jed always maintained cool in the face of a crisis, confronting surprises with a mild exclamation of, ‘Well, doggies!,’ and dealing with the problem at hand with his home-spun wisdom. Jethro and Granny’s over-the-top antics guaranteed plenty of slapstick humor, and Elly Mae provided much cheesecake appeal by simply strutting around in tight jeans.
Critics considered The Beverly Hillbillies too ‘lowbrow’ (well, duh), but the show was a big hit from the start. In fact, the series lasted almost a full decade and racked up a total of 274 episodes before being canceled in September of 1971. Although its ratings declined as the show neared its end, the main reason for its cancellation was that CBS decided to do away with all of its rural-themed programming (Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, et al) in late 1971. This was done to placate advertisers who didn’t believe the show’s primarily non-urban audiences bought their products.
The Beverly Hillbillies immediately went into syndication and has been in reruns continuously since its cancellation. The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies, a television film reuniting most of the show’s stars, was telecast in 1981. The Beverly Hillbillies was also remade as a motion picture with an all-new cast, including Jim ‘Ernest’ Varney as Jed Clampett, in 1993. You just can’t keep a good hick down.
USA / CBS – Filmways / 274×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 26 September 1962 – 7 September 1971
Creator and Executive Producer: Paul Henning / Executive Producer: Al Simon
Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett
Irene Ryan as Granny Daisy Moses
Donna Douglas as Elly May Clampett
Max Baer Jr. as Jethro Bodine (1962-71)
Raymond Bailey as Milburn Drysdale
Nancy Kulp as Miss Jane Hathaway
Louis Nye as Sonny Drysdale (1962)
Bea Benaderet as Cousin Pearl Bodine (1962-63)
Sharon Tate as Janet Trego (1963-64)
Harriet E. MacGibbon as Mrs. Margaret Drysdale (1962-69)
Frank Wilcox as John Brewster (1962-66)
Lisa Seagram as Edythe Brewster (1965-66)
Phil Gordon as Jasper DePew (1962-63)
Arthur Gould-Porter as Ravenswood the Butler (1962-65)
Sirry Steffen as Marie the Maid (1962-63)
You may also be interested in...
Letterkenny’s Jared Keeso Signs Multi Year Deal with Crave and New Metric Media Ink
The LETTERKENNY universe will continue to grow thanks to a new multi-year creative collaboration between Crave, the popular streaming service,...
Crave Weekly Highlights for December 8-13
Crave Weekly Highlights for December 8-13… DECEMBER 8 – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE *Movie Premiere* Phil Lord and Christopher Miller,...
Casey Anthony’s Parents: The Lie Detector Test Premieres on A&E and Lifetime, January 4
In response to daughter Casey’s accusations, George and Cindy Anthony take polygraph exams for an A&E and Lifetime special. George and...
FOX Special “M*A*S*H: The Comedy That Changed Television” Set for January 1
On Monday, January 1, FOX will air a two-hour special called “M*A*S*H: The Comedy That Changed Television.” The special will...
Maria Thattil Joins Neighbours as Amira Devkar
Maria Thattil, an award-winning media personality, has begun filming her guest role on the iconic series Neighbours. Thattil was crowned...
Max Original “Gary Gulman: Born on 3rd Base” Comedy Special Premieres December 21
The Max Original comedy special, “Gary Gulman: Born on 3rd Base,” is set to debut on December 21, offering a...
TLC’s Love & Translation Premieres Jan. 21; Exploring Love Beyond Language Barriers
TLC is set to launch a new relationship series titled Love & Translation, offering a unique and unconventional approach to...
BBC Three Announces New Documentary ‘What’s Really in Your Vape?’ Fronted by Jordan North
BBC Three has unveiled an upcoming documentary titled “What’s Really in Your Vape?” (w/t), produced by Northern Child. The film...
Big Zuu’s Big Eats: Christmas Specials Part 1 (BBC Three Friday 8 December 2023)
Big Zuu’s Big Eats: Christmas Specials Part 1 airs Friday 8 December 2023 on BBC Three. What is this episode...
Cher Meets Rylan: (BBC Two Saturday 9 December 2023)
Cher Meets Rylan: airs Saturday 9 December 2023 on BBC Two. What is this episode about Pop royalty talks to...
Canada’s Drag Race: Out of the Closet (BBC Three Friday 8 December 2023)
Canada’s Drag Race: Out of the Closet airs Friday 8 December 2023 on BBC Three. What is this episode about...
My Million Pound Menu: Grab-and-Go (BBC Two Saturday 9 December 2023)
My Million Pound Menu: Grab-and-Go airs Saturday 9 December 2023 on BBC Two. What is this episode about Fred Sirieix...
Remarkable Places to Eat: Christmas (BBC Two Saturday 9 December 2023)
Remarkable Places to Eat: Christmas airs Saturday 9 December 2023 on BBC Two. What is this episode about In the...
The Great British Winter: Islands (BBC Two Friday 8 December 2023)
The Great British Winter: Islands airs Friday 8 December 2023 on BBC Two. What is this episode about In this...
Cher: at the BBC (BBC Two Saturday 9 December 2023)
Cher: at the BBC airs Saturday 9 December 2023 on BBC Two. What is this episode about In honour of...
Match of the Day 2: 10/12/2023 (BBC One Sunday 10 December 2023)
Match of the Day 2: 10/12/2023 airs Sunday 10 December 2023 on BBC One. What is this episode about Mark...