The Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies series starts as Jed Clampett, an impoverished mountaineer, is living alongside an oil-contaminated swamp with his daughter and mother-in-law. A surveyor for the OK Oil Company realizes the size of the oil field, and the company pays him a fortune for the right to drill on his land. Patriarch Jed moves with his family into a mansion next door to his banker (Milburn Drysdale, of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills), in the wealthy Beverly Hills, California, where he brings a moral, unsophisticated, and minimalistic lifestyle to the swank, sometimes self-obsessed and superficial community. Double entendres and cultural misconceptions are the core of the sitcom’s humor. Plots often involve the outlandish efforts Drysdale makes to keep the Clampetts in Beverly Hills and their money in his bank. The family’s periodic attempts to return to the mountains are often prompted by Granny’s perceiving a slight from one of the “city folk.”

The The Beverly Hillbillies are played by Buddy Ebsen, the widowed patriarch J. D. “Jed” Clampett; Irene Ryan, his ornery mother-in-law, Daisy May (“Granny”) Moses; Donna Douglas, Jed’s curvaceous and beautiful, yet tomboyish, daughter Elly May Clampett; and Max Baer, Jr. as Jethro Bodine, the brawny, half-witted son of Jed’s cousin Pearl Bodine. Pearl (played by Bea Benaderet) appears in most of the first-season episodes, as does Jethro’s twin sister Jethrine, played by Baer in drag, using Linda Kaye Henning‘s voice-over. Pearl is the relative who prods Jed to move to California after being told his modest property could yield $25 million.

The supporting cast featured Raymond Bailey as Jed’s greedy, unscrupulous banker Milburn Drysdale; Harriet E. MacGibbon as Drysdale’s ostentatious wife Margaret Drysdale; and Nancy Kulp as “Miss” Jane Hathaway, Drysdale’s scholarly, “plain Jane” secretary, who occasionally pines for the clueless Jethro.

The Beverly Hillbillies appear to be Southerners, but consistent information about which part of the South they are from is not given. Granny frequently mentions that she was born and raised around Limestone, Tennessee, near Greensville (sic; actually Greeneville), but the state from which the Clampetts move to California is never revealed. Various, sometimes conflicting, clues can be found in certain episodes. In season 5, episode 17, it is claimed that they come from the town of “Bug Tussle” in an unspecified state.

While there is a town of Bugtussle in Oklahoma, this does not appear to be consistent with geographic clues in other episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. Oklahoma is mostly plains, but the series calls Jed a mountaineer. Other episodes often refer to nearby towns, such as JoplinBranson, Springfield, Tulsa, Silver Dollar City, all in or near southwest Missouri. In the eighth episode of season 8, “Manhattan Hillbillies,” Granny tells the police officer in Central Park that her family comes from Taney County, and there is a Taney County in southwest Missouri. Early episodes also contain several references to Eureka Springs, which is in northwest Arkansas. All these communities (except Tulsa) are in relatively close proximity in the Ozark Mountains of the South Central United States. The characters’ accents, their initial poverty, and the existence of oil are also consistent with an origin elsewhere in the Upland South, such as Appalachia. The show’s creator and producer, Paul Henning, is from Independence, Missouri and donated 1,534 acres (621 ha) to the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area near Branson.

A three-act stage play based on The Beverly Hillbillies pilot was written by David Rogers in 1968.

Here we present Season 1 of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).  This “fish-out-of-water” series is about a poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California after striking oil on their land. The Beverly Hillbillies was one of the very few network situation comedies to feature multi-episode story arcs and was among the earliest farce/comedy series on American television.  Here are several of the original episodes of the first and second seasons where the Clampetts move to Beverly Hills “where rich folks belong!”