The Beverly Hillbillies might be one of the more recognizable TV families that you know of, but there are quite a few things that maybe you don’t know about. The show’s producers decided to hide a few things here and there from their fans for one reason or another. We set out to track down 25 interesting facts about the Clampetts and their many adventures. This is what we came up with…
25. You can’t please everyone
It seems as if critics are hard to please in most cases and they aren’t always right when it comes to their critiques. That’s especially true when it comes to movies and television critics. Take the Beverly Hillbillies, for example, even though the Clampetts were America’s favorite redneck family and one of the most watched TV programs in history, critics found the show “painful to sit through” among many other unpleasantries.
24. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
According to many reports, Buddy Ebsen was only offered the role as Jed Clampett based on his performance as Doc Golightly in the hit film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We can only imagine it was pretty fantastic to work alongside Audrey Hepburn in that film, then move on to working with Donna Douglas in your next project.
23. Moving on to bigger and better things
Do you remember the staunchly prude character of Miss Hathaway played by Nancy Kulp? Well, this may not come as much of a shock to you but after her role as the assistant/secretary of Milburn Drysdale, the Clampetts greedy banker, she actually went on to have a career in politics. Kulp went on to run for a seat on the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, she lost.
22. Booming Blue Jeans
Ms. Donna Douglwas who played the role of Elly May Clampett was quite the object of desire during her time with the Beverly Hillbillies. Maybe it was because she came across as the everyday girl next door wearing her blue jeans and wearing pig-tails. It turns out she made a huge impact on the sales of Levi blue jeans. One executive even went as far as to say that “Donna Douglas had done more for the sale of blue jeans in one year than cowboys and done in a hundred.”
21. Bourbon for The Duke
The Duke, John Wayne himself makes a cameo appearance during the “Indians are Coming” episode from the fifth season. Granny kept talking throughout the episode that she sure hoped the famous cowboy would show up to help them fight the Indians. Later in the episode, he actually does show up and surprises everyone. The Duke didn’t want any money for his small role, instead, he wanted a fifth of Bourbon whiskey as his payment.
20. Talk about a bargain
This might seem a little fishy, but according to reports, it’s all true. The mansion that the Clampetts moved to in Beverly Hills after striking oil back on their land looked like the biggest house you’d ever seen when on TV. It turns out it was quite the spread in real life too. The creator of the show Paul Henning reported only paid $500 to film in this massive home in Bel Air! How about that for a bargain!
19. Cooking roadkill with Granny
Granny was one of the most interesting characters in the show and usually the one that got the most laughs. She was constantly making remarks regarding her cooking roadkill, “vittles”, and whatever else she could get her hands on. Well, there was actually a cookbook published called “Granny’s Beverly Hillbillies Cookbook” that used recipes inspired from Granny’s actually cooking.
18. Didn’t see eye to eye
As we mentioned before, Nancy Kulp, who played Miss Hathaway, went into a career of politics after her television career. But Buddy Ebsen who played the star of the show, Jed Clampett, didn’t agree with her policies. He even went as far as to create a radio campaign in support of her opponent when she ran for a seat on the House of Representatives that actually played a major part in her losing. The two never got along very well while on set either.
17. The secret location
As we mentioned before, the show’s creator got a great deal when it came to the mansion used for filming. Just a few months before the show was scheduled to air, the owner of the home Arnold Kirkeby was killed in a plane crash. Executives of the show worried that they wouldn’t be able to continue to shoot there, but the wife allowed them to continue as long as her address was never revealed.
16. Buddy’s Cameo
After Buddy Ebsen completed his role as Jed Clampett he later landed a role as Barnaby Jones in the self-titled private detective sitcom. It was a popular role, but in most people’s eyes not compared to his role as Jed. When Hollywood decided to make a big screen production of the Beverly Hillbillies in 1993 Ebsen made a cameo in the film, but not as Jed like you would expect. Instead, he came back as Barnaby Jones.
15. Unable to move on to bigger and better things
Max Baer Jr. who fantastically played the part of Jethro Bodine was unable to get lined up with any other acting jobs after the Beverly Hillbillies closed down production. Baer Jr. blamed it on the fact that he was cast as the dimwit hillbilly and therefore nobody could look at him as a serious actor. Instead, he shifted focus towards directing, producing and writing.
14. Bizarre rumors
There’s never a shortage of rumors when it comes to television shows and the Beverly Hillbillies were no exception. One of the most bizarre rumors going around was regarding the age of Granny, played by Irene Ryan, and Elly May, played by Donna Douglas. Apparently, it was constantly going around that Douglass was actually older than Ryan but they used extensive makeup to give the appearance that she was older. However Ryan was born in 1902 and Douglas, not till 1933 so in fact, she was 31 years older.
13. Alzheimers unfortunately got the banker
Raymond Bailey, the actor who played the greedy banker that made it his personal mission to personally manage the Clampetts mighty fortune, Mr. Drysdale, was plagued with the terrible disease known as Alzheimer’s. Sadly it was the reason he had to stop acting altogether. Bailey started showing signs the last few years of filming and if you pay close attention to the last few episodes it became very apparent.
12. Beauty in disguise
You may not have recognized her right away but the absolutely lovely Sharon Tate appeared a total of 15 different times throughout the series. That is unless you watched the digitally remastered High-Def version to distinguish her beauty from the rest of the crowd. She often appeared wearing a brown wig. Sadly, Tate suffered a terrible tragedy when she became one of the many victims in the Manson Family Killings.
11. The Ballad of Jed Clampett
Did you know that the famous theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies had an actual name? It was called “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” featuring Flatt and Scruggs, a bluegrass duo playing the music and singing the tune was Jerry Scoggins. Not only did the song become a trademark of the show but it even landed itself at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962.
10. A house full of critters
Everybody remembers the curly blonde beauty known as Elly May Clampett played by the great Donna Douglas right? Well if you also remember Elly May was quite the animal lover, or in her case a “critter” lover, which meant that there was always animals running around the house on the show. Behind the scenes, someone had to take care of them. Frank Inn served not only as the animal trainer but also for finding animals that could be used on the show.
9. A different Granny?
It’s hard to imagine anyone else than Irene Ryan playing the famous role of Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. But at first, the role was originally held for Bea Benaderet. However, the show’s producers felt as if Benaderet was to “busty” and large to play the role of the tiny old Granny. It turns out that Bea herself was the one who recommended Irene Ryan to play the role.
8. Product placement
You might’ve noticed that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes made a few appearances throughout the series and that’s because they were the sponsor of the show. During the ending credits, you saw Jed pointing out something off to the left of the camera. During the broadcasts on Network television, the camera would pivot and show that Jed was actually pointing at giant Kellogg’s Corn Flakes billboard.
7. The talented Mr. Ebsen
As we mentioned before, Buddy Ebsen went on to play other major television roles after finishing with the Beverly Hillbillies. But did you know that he was actually a novelist as well? He actually wrote the book called Kelly’s quest? Not only did he write it, but he had to pay for the publishing himself after being rejected by 9 different publishers. In the end, the joke was on them because it reached as high as #3 on the Los Angeles Times paperback best-seller list in 2001.
6. Inspiration from the South
According to reports the whole concept of the Beverly Hillbillies came to Paul Henning when he was in the South visiting Civil War sites back in 1959. He thought it would be brilliant to take a family that was used to living in the rural South and move them into an upper-class community. Apparently, they first planned on shooting in New York City but was changed to Beverly Hills due to logistics of it all.
5. What was Sonny’s last name?
Only the most knowledgeable Beverly Hillbillies fans will know about this particular fact regarding the son of Margaret Drysdale. His name was Sonny and his last name was never revealed in the show. Because of this, he’s commonly been referred to as Sonny Drysdale. However, it was later determined that his actual last name was Adonis.
4. Making the big bucks
The Beverly Hillbillies was extremely successful in the television market when it came to making money. It might’ve had a slow start but by the time it was canceled in 1971 it was making money hand over fist. Rumors went around that it had reached upwards of $100 million that was made from the show towards the end. Sounds to me like someone found a real life oil reserve on their land.
3. Skipper and Bessie
As we mentioned before, Elly May was quite the animal lover. During the series, she had two pet chimpanzees that had to be taken care of by the animal trainer when not on camera. The two chimps went by the names Skipper and Bessie. Skipper was the first chimp to make an appearance and then later came “Cousin Bessie” who was, of course, Skipper’s cousin.
2. Double duty
Sometimes actors are asked to do things that they maybe wouldn’t do in their normal lives, but they do it in order to make the show they’re working on as good as it can possibly be. Take for example Max Baer Jr. who played the role of Jethro Bodine, he was asked to double as his twin sister, Jethrine Bodine. This, of course, required him to get all done up with a wig, make-up, and the full nine yards.
1. Sneaky name change
If you happen to be watching the debut pilot episode of the show called “The Clampetts Strike Oil”, you might’ve noticed that the overall name of the show was different than what we know it as today. The original title of the show was “The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills” and that’s what was used for that first episode. However, it was quickly changed to the Beverly Hillbillies for the second episode.