The Beverly Hillbillies is a TV sitcom about a hillbilly who strikes oil while rabbit hunting, and moves his family to Beverly Hills, California. It appeared on CBS from September 26, 1962 to September 7, 1971. Despite it being panned by critics, it shot to the top of the Nielsen Ratings and remained there through most of its run.
It starred Buddy Ebsen as the widowed patriarch Jedidiah "Jed" Clampett, Irene Ryan as his mother-in-law, Granny (Daisy Moses), Donna Douglas as his daughter, Elly May, Max Baer, Jr. as his nephew, Jethro Bodine (sometimes playing Jethro's twin sister, Jethrene), Raymond Bailey as Jed's greedy banker, Milburn Drysdale, Harriet E. MacGibbon as Drysdale's snobbish wife, Margaret, and Nancy Kulp as his secretary, Jane Hathaway, who pined for the clueless Jethro. The theme song, The Ballad of Jed Clampett, was written and performed by Bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs. It was #44 on the music charts in 1962.
Most storylines revolved around the differences between hillbilly culture and modern American culture. The Clampetts persisted in living as they always had, even in a large, elegant mansion, never changing their clothing or the old rattletrap truck they used to move to Beverly Hills with.
Although Jed had good sense, Granny, Elly May, and especially Jethro, could be incredibly ignorant. However, the Drysdales were pretty foolish, too. Although Drysdale had no use personally for the Clampetts, he was willing to do anything to keep his bank from losing their millions, while Margaret, with elaborate histrionics, led an outlandish campaign to rid the cultured city of the uncouth hillbillies! Nothing was ever too serious; it was high camp with a lot of slapstick.
The show was still popular when it was canceled after 274 episodes because CBS decided to change its image as a "rural network." Other "rural shows," including Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, were also canceled.
The Beverly Hillbillies is still televised daily around the world in syndication.
Complete theme song
The Ballad of Jed Clampett - sung by Jerry Scoggins
- "Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed,
- a poor mountaineer, barely kept his fam'ly fed.
- Then one day he was shootin' at some food,
- and up from the ground come a bubblin' crude,
- oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.
- Well the first thing you know ol' Jed's a millionaire.
- The kinfolk said, Jed, move away from there.
- They said, Californy is the place you oughta be,
- so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly,
- Hills that is, swimmin' pools, movie stars.
- Ol' Jed bought a mansion, lawdy it was swank,
- next-door neighbor was pres'dent of the bank.
- Lotsa folks objected, but the banker found no fault,
- 'cause ol' Jed's millions was a-layin' in the vault,
- cash that is, capital gains, depletion money.
- Well now it's time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin,
- they would like to thank you folks for kindly droppin' in.
- You're all invited back next week to this locality,
- to have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality,
- hillbilly that is, set a spell, take your shoes off, y'all come back now, ya hear?"
In 1993, a movie adaptation, The Beverly Hillbillies, was released by 20th Century Fox starring Jim Varney (of the Ernest movies) as Jed Clampett, Diedrich Bader as Jethro Bodine/Jethrene Bodine, Erika Eleniak as Elly May Clampett, Cloris Leachman as Granny, Lily Tomlin as Miss Jane, Dabney Coleman as Mr. Drysdale and Penny Fuller as Mrs. Drysdale. It featured cameo appearances by Buddy Ebsen as Barnaby Jones and Dolly Parton as herself.