Classic TV

The Beverly Hillbillies

Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed.  One of my favorite TV shows growing up was the Beverly Hillbillies.  The first episode was aired on September 26, 1962.  It aired until March 23, 1971 for a total of 274 episodes.

For eight of the shows nine seasons it was ranked twice the number one show of the season and has some episodes that are some of the most watched television episodes on the history of Television. The show was nominated for an Emmy award seven times. The show was created by Paul Henning and later on he also created Petticoat Junction and then spun off Green Acres for CBS Television.  The show starred Buddy Ebsen as Jed, Irene Ryan as Granny, Donna Douglas as Ellie May and Max Baer Jr as Jethro Bodine.

The series began as Jed Clampett who was a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed. He and his family as luck would have it lived on an oil-rich swamp.   A worker for the OK Oil Company finds that the size of the oil field is huge and the company offers to pays him a fortune for the right to drill for oil on his property. After Jed’s cousin, Pearl, played by Bea Benedaret pushes Jed to move to “Californy” after she finds out the property is worth at least 25 Million dollars. So he up and moves his family to Beverly, Hills that is, swimming pools and movie stars.  The family moves to a huge mansion that includes a “cement pond” in Beverly Hills and his neighbor turns out to be his banker, Milburn Drysdale.  The plots of the episodes often revolved around the crazy efforts of Millburn Drysdale trying to keep the Clampetts from moving back home and keeping their money in his bank.  Granny from time to time would want to move back to the mountains after getting tired of “city folk”.

What is interesting is the difference in the way the public and the media treated the series. It was a huge hit with the public but the critics hated it. The New York times called it “unfunny” and Variety said, “it was too painful to sit through”.  Time Magazine called it the “lowest form of Humor” LOL!  However, the public loved it and it is one of my most favorite series of all time. It was flat out hilarious.  The ratings actually were massive. After six weeks the Beverly Hillbillies was the most watched TV program on Television. Between 1962 and 1964 the show garnered 57 million viewers. At various times it got almost 45 percent of American TV’s tuned into the show.

The Beverly Hillbillies mansion is an actual house located in Bel Air not on a studio lot It was built in the 1930s costing 2 million dollars. The home is listed on Zillow and the current estimate is $39 ,044,302.  It is a large homecoming in at 21,573 square feet had 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. The property tax for 2015 was $343,192. That’s a lot. I can just imagine how much the landscaping bill alone is for the year.  The home has an elevator, a pipe organ, and a 150-foot waterfall. During the production of the show, the owner Arnold Kirkeby rented out the mansion at $500 a day.  The mansion is also been spotted in several movies including Jerry Lewis’s Cinderfella.

The Clampett family truck is a 1921 Oldsmobile that had a four-cylinder engine under the hood. The hood was held down by ropes and had headlights that had no glass. When oil was discovered on Jed’s property “He loaded up his truck and moved to Beverly. Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars. With the shape the truck looked to be in, it’s a wonder it made it to California. The ownership of the truck is told by Jed “Strictly speaking, It belongs to my cousin Pearl. But I can keep it as long as I keep cousin Jethro” After the series was over the truck was donated to the Ralph Foster Museum that is located on the campus of the college of the Ozarks near Branson Missouri.

The theme song for the show is called “the Ballad of Jed Clampett” Paul Henning the producer of wrote the song and it was performed by Flatt and Scruggs. Jerry Scroggins sand the song backed by Earl and Scruggs and it is heard over the credits at the beginning and end of the show. Flatt and Scuggs did release their own version of the song for Columbia Records and it was released as a single On the Billboard top 100 it reached 44 and also made it to number one on the Billboard Country Chart.


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