Whatever Happened to ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Cast? Say Hello Again to Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May

One of the biggest classic TV comedy hits of the 1960s was The Beverly Hillbillies and its fish out of the ce-ment pond story of the Clampetts — Jed (Buddy Ebsen), Granny (Irene Ryan), Jethro (Max Baer, Jr.) and Elly May (Donna Douglas), which ran from 1962 to to 1971 on CBS.

The premise of the show is essentially the idea that a family of hillbillies strikes it rich in oil, moves into a Beverly Hills mansion and tries to live among the locals. Naturally, they’re as out of place as, say, The Addams Family or The Munsters and, like them, haven’t got a clue. Added into the mix is their money-obsessed banker, Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), who is desperate to keep their $96 million in his bank, and forces his secretary, Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp), to carry out every whim — no matter how outlandish — the Clampetts have.

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The Beverly Hillbillies was created by Paul Henning, who also developed Petticoat Junction and Green Acres (resulting in crossovers between all three shows). In an interview with the New York Daily News back in 1962, he said of the conception of the series, “As a kid, I used to go hiking and camping in hillbilly country, and on these treks I was fascinated by the mountain people I met. I genuinely got to love these simple, goodhearted people, and I knew that someday I would try and write about them with all the warmth and humor that are characteristically theirs. Someday is now.”

Like Gilligan’s Island that would follow it, The Beverly Hillbillies was pretty much derided by the critics, but was a hit with the audience through most of its run. In reflecting on the success, he explained to the Lancaster New Era in 1963, “I think we stuck to what we set out to do: make a funny show. Success in this business is 99 percent luck and we had it in many ways — the selection of a perfect cast, especially. Also, our timing was good. The country was ready for a show like The Hillbillies, where it might not have been two years ago. I think it is the kind of humor that appeals to the broad area of America that lies outside the three major city areas. The urban people also enjoy it, but they don’t want to admit it.

“A government official,” he added, “who tours all over the country put a finger on it. He wrote us and said in the South and in small towns, people watch The Hillbillies with the shades up. In the cities they watch it, but keep the shades down.”

To get reacquainted with Jed, Granny, Jethro, Elly May, Buddy, Irene, Max and Donna, just scroll down.