The Beverly Hillbillies

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This article is about the television series. There is also an article about the motion picture of the same title.

The Beverly Hillbillies is a TV sitcom about a hillbilly who strikes oil while hunting on his land, near the fictional Bugtussle, and moves his family to Beverly Hills, California, with the resultant wealth. A Filmways production, it aired on CBS from September 26, 1962 to September 7, 1971. Despite its being panned by critics, the series shot to the top of the Nielsen Ratings shortly after its premiere and stayed there for several seasons. It was high in the ratings throughout most of its run.



The series 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, on early shows); Raymond Bailey as Jed's greedy banker, Milburn Drysdale; Harriet E. MacGibbon as Drysdale's snobbish wife, Margaret; and Nancy Kulp as Drysdale's secretary, Miss Jane Hathaway, who pined for the clueless Jethro. In the beginning, Jed's cousin, Pearl (Jethro's mother, played by Bea Benaderet), also appeared. 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. Flatt and Scruggs made several guest appearances as themselves, and as potential suitors for Pearl.

Unusual storylines

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 moved to Beverly Hills in. They continued to grow their own food; and Granny made lye soap and moonshine.


Although he lacked sophistication, Jed had pretty good sense; Granny, Elly May, and especially Jethro, were incredibly ignorant, however. Granny styled herself as an "M.D.," or "mountain doctor," with what she believed was a complete knowledge of herbs, potions, tonics, and the like. Elly May had a deep rapport with all warm-blooded creatures and adopted a great diversity of them, including raccoons and a chimpanzee. They were referred to as her "critters." Another running joke was Elly May's incredibly poor culinary skills; the results were not only inedible but killed plants when disposed of out in the backyard. Elly May was as stunningly beautiful as she was na´ve, and was sometimes dated by young Hollywood actors with incredibly contrived stage names, such as "Dash Riprock" and "Bolt Upright." When Jethro wanted to take such a name for himself, he came up with "Beef Jerky." Jethro was particularly proud of his education, as he had completed the sixth grade.

All the hillbillies referred to the swimming pool in back of their mansion as "the cement pond." They were quite fascinated by it, but never seemed to truly grasp its actual intended usage. Another running joke was that they never discovered the source of the sound that took place a few times prior to someone knocking on the front door, never discovering that it was the doorbell.

The Drysdales, on the other hand, were pretty foolish themselves. Although Mr. Drysdale had little use personally for the Clampetts, he was willing to do anything to keep them living next door to his mansion and not lose their millions in deposits in his bank. Episodes in 1962 and 1966 featured his ne'er-do-well stepson, Sonny Drysdale (played by Louis Nye), a mama's boy whose career was continuously going to college. Sonny was at one point a potential husband for Elly May. When he jilted her, there was a feud. Mrs. Drysdale, of course, was horrified by her neighbors and, with elaborate histrionics, led an outlandish campaign to rid her cultured city of the uncouth, beastly hillbillies!

One of a breed

The show was never too serious. It was a farce, pure and simple, with a lot of slapstick. It was still fairly popular when it was canceled after 274 episodes because CBS wanted to change its image as a "rural network," as their advertisers were desirous of a more sophisticated urban audience to market their products to. Other "rural shows" were also canceled, including Petticoat Junction (1963-1970) (starring Bea Benaderet and Edgar Buchanan), Green Acres (1965-1971) (starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor), and Hee Haw (1969-1971) (starring Roy Clark and Buck Owens), the latter then moving to "first-run" syndication, where it ran for another 21 years.

Reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies are still televised daily around the world in syndication.

Frequently used terminology and phrases

  • cement pond (the swimming pool)
  • critters (Elly May's animals)
  • fancy eatin' room (the billiard room)
  • fancy leather lunch boxes (briefcases)
  • Feelin' lower than a well digger's heel
  • Frisky as a flea on a fat dog
  • green (naive, gullible, easily deceived)
  • He was only greenin' ya! (He was only fooling you!)
  • If brains were lard, his wouldn't grease too big a pan
  • p-new-moe-nie (pneumonia)
  • polecat (a skunk)
  • pot passers (pool cues)
  • Pretty as a bag filled with stripped candy
  • Rootin' around like a hog in a new pen
  • set a spell (sit for a while)
  • spark/sparkin' (court/courting, date/dating)
  • Squawking like a two-pound chicken laying a three-pound egg
  • vittles (victuals. food)
  • We-e-e-ll doggies!
  • You're green enough to stick in the ground and grow
  • You're totin' water with a leaky bucket
  • Deep fried in possum fat (a method of cooking)
  • You're dropping your bucket down an empty erll
  • Fetch my shotgun
  • One of these days I've got to have a long talk with that boy

Complete theme song

The Ballad of Jed Clampett
performed 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?"

See also

External links


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