A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed
And then one day he was shootin' at some food
And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude
Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.
Well, the first thing you know, old 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. Swimming pools. Movie stars....
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES!
A 1960s CBS Sitcom produced by Filmways about a family of Ozark-mountain folks who, when oil prospectors discover oil in their swamp, become fantastically rich and move to a mansion in Beverly Hills, where a greedy banker tries desperately to keep their money in his bank, which means keeping them happy in the foreign environment of Beverly Hills, while simultaneously keeping the city's residents from driving the Clampetts away. A great cast is aided by deceptively smart writing from creator Paul Henning, in a show which, contrary to popular perception, actually had great respect for the mountain people whom it portrayed. (Paul Henning was from Missouri and knew such simple yet honorable and proud people in his youth.) Incredibly successful, the show was eventually a victim of the so-called "Rural Purge" that eliminated shows from CBS' schedule that had a "country" or southern flavor. The series was canceled despite high ratings because they were the wrong ratings (though, considering that Irene Ryan ended up dying only two years after cancellation, it likely would have ended on its own after that point anyway). It lasted from September 1962 to March 1971. A total of 274 episodes in nine seasons aired.
The earlier seasons, in black and white, subvert the dumb hick stereotype to good comic effect by portraying the patriarch, Jed Clampettnote (played in a typically low-key performance by Buddy Ebsen) as being obviously a lot smarter than city-dwellers assumed, always getting the better of con men. Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey chews the scenery gleefully in most of his scenes) was actually a friend of the Clampetts, whom he genuinely liked, and did not attempt to swindle them besides his greedy persona. With the exception of Jethro, the Clampetts were never portrayed as stupid, only unfamiliar with their Beverly Hills environment.
The Film of the Series was made in 1993 to mixed reviews. It focuses on the attempt of new characters Woodrow Tyler (Rob Schneider) and Laura Jackson (Lea Thompson) to con the Clampetts out of their money. The film was directed by Penelope Spheeris, previously known for such films as Hollywood Vice Squad (1986) and Wayne's World (1992).
The cast consisted of:
- Jedediah D. "Jed" Clampett - The apparent head of the family. A good natured man with some common sense. But also an expert marksman. Played in the series by Buddy Ebsen and in the film by Jim Varney.
- Daisy Mae "Granny" Moses - The mother-in-law of Jed. A shotgun-wielding old woman with a nostalgia for the Confederate States of America. Played in the series by Irene Ryan and in the film by Cloris Leachman.
- Elly May Clampett - The only daughter of Jed. A beautiful tomboy with Lethal Chef skills. Played in the series by Donna Douglas and in the film by Erika Eleniak.
- Jethro Bodine - A nephew/young cousin of Jed. Described as naive, ignorant, and pompous. Stays in the city to seek better education and job offers. Can't seem to settle down in any job. Played by Max Baer, Jr. in the series, by Ray Young in the 1981 Return of the Beverly Hillbillies Made-for-TV Movie, and by Diedrich Bader in the film.
- Milburn Drysdale - The next-door-neighbor, confidant and banker of the Clampetts. He is a greedy little man, willing to put a lot of effort to keep the Clampett account for his bank. Played in the series by Raymond Bailey and in the film by Dabney Coleman.
- Margaret Drysdale - Milburn's wife. A haughty member of one of Boston's oldest families, she frequently acts like a blue-blood, forgetting her father had lost his fortune. Often at odds with Granny. Written out during the last two seasons. Played in the series by Harriet MacGibbon and in the film by Penny Fuller.
- Sonny Drysdale - Son of Margaret and stepson of Milburn. A thirty-something college student, infatuated with Elly. A minor but memorable character, he appeared in less than ten episodes between 1962 and 1966 but reportedly received more than his share of the fan mail. Played by Louis Nye.
- Morgan Drysdale - The son of Milburn and Margaret as seen in the 1993 movie. Drysdale Jr. is now seen as an average high school student/Butt-Monkey with slackerish tendencies, also infatuated with Elly. Played by Kevin Connolly.
- Jane Hathaway . The ever-efficient, ever-uptight secretary of Drysdale and closest friend to the Clampetts. Treated as a member of the family, infatuated with Jethro. Played in the series by Nancy Kulp, who often gave a performance with a somewhat pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness reminiscent of Shelley Long's role in Cheers. Played in the film by Lily Tomlin.
- Pearl Bodine. Cousin to Jed, mother to Jethro. A relatively late addition of the first season, subject to her own Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs song, "Pearl, Pearl, Pearl." The character was popular with audiences but had to be dropped when the actress was cast as the lead in another Henning series, Petticoat Junction. Played in the series by Bea Benaderet and in the film by Linda Carlson.
- Jethrine Bodine. Jethro's twin sister. Moved in with the Clampetts in the first season, but soon left to return to her sweetheart Jazzbo Depew. The character was portrayed by Max Baer, Jr. dressed in drag in the series, with the voice provided by Linda Kaye, and in the film by Diedrich Bader in drag.
The Beverly Hillbillies provides examples of:
- Armor-Piercing Response: Occasionally delivered by Jed, revealing his abiding wisdom among the chaos.Pearl: That historical lady found out that your ancestors come here before the Mayflower.Jed: But what's that got to do with me?Pearl: That's the way society works, Jed. The earlier your kinfolk got here, the higher up that puts ya.Jed: Then I reckon the highest society folks is the Indians.
- Bad to the Last Drop: Elly May's coffee, a thick syrup that pours out as slowly as molasses.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Originally, Mr. Drysdale was a responsible, intelligent banker. However, in later years he turns into a odious, deceitful, moneygrubbing maniac. Cue Miss Hathaway's transformation from his trusted and respectful confidante to a beleaguered assistant.
- Belly Dancer: The Season 4 episode "The Sheik" featured an Arab sheik who gave away dancing girls to Jed as a token of friendship. Turns out Jed doesn't want anything to do with the girls, leading to hi-jinks as Jethro tries to take them all for himself.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Much of the family are kind, simple, country folk. But many of the people who have tried to con them have learned the hard way that messing with them will bring you a load of hurt.
- Bigger Stick: In the movie, one guy in a car pulls a pistol on the Clampetts after they cut him off. Thinking the guy's just showing off his piece, Jed pulls out his shotgun for comparison. The instigator quickly backs down.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Laura Jackson, who poses as a French tutor named "Laurette Voleur" in order to gain the Clampetts' trust, marry Jed and steal his money. Granny doesn't buy the act for a second.
- Book on the Head: In "Pygmalion and Elly", Sonny Drysdale demonstrates book-balancing to Elly May. Jed and Jethro, spying from behind the "fancy courtin' parlor" curtains, think he's nuts. In the feature film, Laura has Elly practice sitting up straight by doing this.
- Brats with Slingshots: Elly May Clampett uses a slingshot as she doesn't care for shooting. In a memorable early episode, she mistakes a bra for a slingshot.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the movie, Elly May does this after learning about Laurette Voleur's desire to be Jed's wife. She looks right into the camera, says, "How 'bout it? Miss Laurette and my pa!", and shrugs.
- Casting Gag: Dabney Coleman plays Mr. Drysdale and Lily Tomlin plays Miss Hathaway in The Film of the Series. And Dolly Parton's even thrown in for good measure.
- Catch-Phrase: "Wellllll Doggies!", "JED! JED! JED!", "Y'all come back now, y'hear?"
- Clip Show: In S01E28, "Jed Pays His Taxes," it has an IRS agent that Granny chased off the property, confusing him for an alcohol tax collector ("revenooer"). Granny visits Mr. Drysdale to find out why Mr. Clampett has millions in income but had nothing before. Through flashbacks from the first episode, Drysdale explains how oil was found on his property and how Jed and the family moved to California.
- Character Exaggeration: Jethro is considerably a lot dumber even to breech of appearing to have some form of learning disability (mentally deficient) in the 1993 film, and is also a Perpetual Smiler simpleton.
- Cheesy Moon: In "Jethro's Military Career", Jethro wants to blast off to the moon (by tying himself to a rocket!) so he could meet moon maidens and eat its green cheese.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whatever happened to Cousin Pearl, Jethro's mother?
- Comically Inept Healing: Granny brings her mountain doctorin' with her to Beverly Hills. She dislikes the drugstore because it has no drugs in it, "they should call it a what-not shop." Her "rumatiz medicine" is just bootleg whiskey. She has an old mountain cure for the common cold which a drug conglomerate wants to buy until they find out it's just grain alcohol and the prescription is to drink it daily, get plenty of bed rest and additional fluids, and your cold will be "miraculously" cured in about a week.
- Downplayed in the movie, where her expert doctorin' she done took the Hippocritter Oath to provide actually seems to have some kind of instant effect.
- Crossover: A 1968 Thanksgiving Episode sent the Clampetts to Hooterville, where they mingled with the characters from Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. All three rural-themed sitcoms were developed by Paul Henning.
- Cute Bruiser: Elly May and Granny.
- Deep South: The Clampetts hail from Tennessee. Early episodes claim somewhere near Oxford while later episodes claim Bugtussel. Granny is a loyal Confederate, so if the War Between the States comes up in conversation, she will insist the South won.
- Down L.A. Drain: In "Christmas at the Clampetts", the hillbillies receive a boat as a gift from Mr. Drysdale. Jed, having heard of the Los Angeles River, directs Jethro to take the family down to the "stream". The hillbillies are disappointed, to say the least.Elly May: Well, there aint enough water down there to wet down a good-sized crawdad, is there Pa?Jed: "Pitiful, pitiful"
- Dreadful Musician: Cousin Pearl considers herself a talented piano player and opera star, in reality her singing is bad enough for the neighbors to summon the police to make it stop.
- Dumb Is Good: The Clampett family may not be the smartest, but they are one of the sweetest. Meanwhile, the Drysdales are smarter, and are possibly the greediest couple you will ever see.
- The whole "smart people are mean" aspect of this trope is subverted with Jane Hathaway, who after a rocky start, grew quite fond of the Clampett family and did her best to help them with things that they didn't understand about the whole Beverly Hills lifestyle.
- Ermine Cape Effect: Averted, then played straight in "His Royal Highness." The deposed king is at first dressed in an ordinary suit. This is much to Jethro's disappointment ("He doesn't look like the kings in my Big Blue Book of Fairy Tales"). Later, on Mr. Drysdale's suggestion, he dresses up in ermine cape and crown to court Elly May. Elly May rejects him as she doesn't take kindly to him putting on airs.
- Expy: Sort of with some characters. Jethro is vaguely a bit like Li'l Abner. Ellie Mae is similar to Daisy Mae Skragg (except she's Jethro's cousin rather than love interest) & Granny is very much like Mammy Yokum (and her name actually is Daisy Mae). YMMV of course.
- Farmer's Daughter: Elly May.
- Feuding Families: The season 1 episode "The Great Feud" has the Clampetts and Drysdales getting into this.
- A later story arc, involving the Clampetts inheriting an English castle, has the family (mostly Granny and Jethro) getting into one of these with the owners of the castle next door.
- The Film of the Series: Released in 1993.
- Fish out of Water: The basic premise of the show.
- Flanderization: Jethro becomes more obsessed with pop culture and becoming a big star, and Mr. Drysdale becomes more of a greedy banker stereotype.
- Freudian Couch: In "The Clampetts Get Psychoanalyzed," Mr. Drysdale's Freudeian psychiatrist tries to psychoanalyze Jethro Bodine and Cousin Pearl. The psychiatrist is very faithful to Freudian methods, not only having a couch in his office but closing his curtains so as to conduct psychoanalysis in semidarkness.
- Friend to All Living Things: Elly May is phenomenally good with animals. She even got a bird and a cat to get along.
- Gargle Blaster: Granny's "rheumatizz medicine".
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: The titular family has two males (Jed and Jethro) and two females (Granny and Elly). Additional regular characters include two males (Milburn and Sonny Drysdale) and two females (Margaret Drysdale and Jane Hathaway).
- George Jetson Job Security:
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: From the first episode:Granny: Elly May done popped the buttons off her shirt again.Jed: Elly May carries herself proud with her shoulders throwed back.Granny: It ain't her shoulders that have been poppin' these buttons.
- Gonky Femme: Early episodes feature Jethrine, Jethro's Half Identical Twin. Giggly and girly, played by Max Baer Jr. in a dress but voiced by a female voiceover actor. The movie, where she's played (and voiced) by Diedrich Bader, hangs a lampshade on this.
- Historical Character's Fictional Relative: In the film, at a wedding someone wonders "Do you think Cousin Bill got the invitation?" Cut to: exterior shot of the White House, and a voice wondering where he left the invite.
- Hollywood Dateless and Hollywood Homely: Poor Jane Hathaway.
- Jerkass: Jethro (via his total ignorance). Also Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: After Mr. Drysdale gets a hole blown through his hat by Granny, Jed makes it clear that if Granny had actually tried to shoot him, she wouldn't have missed.
- Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Jethro. Assumes since he took twice as long to get through the sixth grade (12 years), that makes him twice as smart as everyone else.
- Impoverished Patrician: In "His Royal Highness", an impoverished ex-king schemes to marry Elly-May for her money. His entire "fortune" is in "Glotny's", which, according to Miss Hathaway's book of world currencies and exchange rates, is "absolutely worthless." In fact, on two occasions in the episode, they're even used as table napkins!
- In One Ear, Out the Other: One episode features Granny giving Jethro a physical before he joins the army. At one point she is using a candle to look into his ear then, still looking in the same ear, moves the candle to the other side of his head. She blows in the original ear, snuffing the candle out.
- It Came from Beverly Hills: Maybe the Ur-Example.
- Ivy League for Everyone: In spite of having no academic talent, Sonny Drysdale is a graduate of several Ivy League colleges (Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard, to name a few).
- "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music: Used in the 1993 film.
- Knighting: In "War of the Roses", Jethro gets knighted by Jane Hathaway masquerading as Elizabeth I. The honor is given as Jethro had vanquished Colonel Dumbarton of the neighboring castle. At the same ceremony, Granny is assured by "The Queen" that the stain on the family honor will be rectified, and that everyone in England will know that the Clampett Clan did not run out on the "War of the Roses. Jed Clampett also takes the opportunity to return the deed to Canada - having purchased the country from the Queen's minister a few episodes before. Believe it or not, this all Makes Sense In Context.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: In later seasons, Jethro becomes insufferably conceited and believes he's an expert on everything. This is by virtue of his sixth-grade education and his "giant brain". Some of his low-lights include his attempt at being a talent agent, his belief he can speak Japanese and any number of claims that he's a Hollywood playboy.
- Landmark Sale: The final season featured a storyline where the Clampetts go to Washington and Jed is conned into the White House, the Capitol Building and other landmarks.
- That same conman (played by Sgt. Bilko, no less) tricked them into buying The Statue of Liberty and Central Park in an earlier episode.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Granny made an appearance on Mister Ed. Actress Irene Ryan, dressed in "Granny" garb, and with Granny's accent, meets Wilbur Post while touring a wax museum. She offers to take Wilbur home and poultice his head; very Granny-type actions. In the credits, however, Irene Ryan is credited as "Irene Ryan" with no character after her name.
- Lethal Chef: Elly May Clampett's cooking is nigh inedible. Her biscuits and donuts are hard as a rock and just as heavy. One episode sees her make a meatloaf in the shape of a giant meatball. Said meatloaf bounces like a basketball.
- "London, England" Syndrome:
- In the film, Jethro is first mentioned when Elly May says he's coming from Oxford to visit them. The next scene shows him leaving Oxford, Arkansas.
- The trope makes its appearance in the series. In the first couple seasons, Cousin Pearl, Jethro and Jethrine Bodine are plainly said have originally lived in Oxford, Tennessee. This leads to a gag in the second episode, "Getting Settled", where Mr. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway believe that Jethro goes to school at the Oxford.
- Manchild: Jethro, although it's because of his unbridled enthusiasm for the family's new lavish lifestyle and his lack of education.Jethro: [in the movie] That's 'cause I graduated in the sixth grade, ma'am! Only took three years! [holds up four fingers]
- Missing Mom: Elly May's mother died some time before the start of the series.
- Mistaken for Servant: The Clampetts.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: Mr. Drysdale.
- Ms. Fanservice: Decades later, and Elly May is still a mainstay on "sexiest tv stars ever" lists.
- Never Mess with Granny: Literally true, never ever mess with Granny. None of them were wimps, but Granny was one of the toughest scrappers in the whole family. And you don't want her shooting at you, whether it's buckshot or rock-salt and bacon rind. Mr. Milburn Drysdale the banker found out the hard way in England... pretending to be a ghost. Lucky for him, it was the rock-salt and bacon rind ammo!
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: One episode revolved around Granny trying to catch a "giant jackrabbit," which is actually a kangaroo that has escaped from the neighbors' place.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Played straight with Jed Clampett in that he isn't as simple as his speech and general appearance implies. Also subverted in one episode where officials believe that Jethro must be doing exactly this in an attempt to get out of been conscripted as they cannot believe that anyone could be as stupid as Jethro seems to be.
- Personal Seals: In "Jed, Incorporated", a running gag has Miss Hathaway use her notary seal to "mistakenly crinkle" corporate documents (or, so saith the hillbillies).
- Rags to Riches: Summarized in the Expository Theme Tune; Jed strikes oil on his property while hunting for game and becomes rich.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Zsa Zsa Gabor guest stars in the movie in the police line-up scene for "A drive-by slapping." This is a reference to Gabor's real life arrest for slapping a police officer.
- Reunion Show: The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies (1981), which reunited Buddy Ebsen, Donna Douglas (Elly May), and Nancy Kulp (Miss Hathaway) from the original show but cast a different actor as Jethro and replaced Granny with Imogene Coca as Granny's Maw.
- Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The pilot and first few episodes were much more serious in nature and focused on Jed finding a "Maw" for a Elly.
- Rich Boredom: Jed Clampett
- Same-Sex Triplets: Elly May mentioned having fought a set of triplets in The Film of the Series. While it was not specifically stated, it's implied the three of them are males.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: "The Ghost of Clampett Castle" had Mr. Drysdale try to scare Granny away from the Clampett's English castle and back to California. He imitates the "Ghost of Lady Clampett" in the attempt. It backfires when Granny goes after the ghost, shooting the "ghost" in the backside with rock salt and bacon rind. However, Mr. Drysdale disguised as a ghost (moaning from his injury!) manages to scare Jethro Bodine so much that the Clampetts leave for his sake.
- Sitcom: One of the most popular of the 1960s, was No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for its first two seasons.
- Smarter Than You Look: Although he doesn't have a lot of book learnin', Jed has a lot of natural cunning and perception, and routinely outsmarts people who assume that he's dumb because of his rural upbringing.
- Southern Belle: Elly May. As a book on TV series once put it: "Fans were willing to put up with the insipid plots to get a look at her in jeans that appeared to be painted on."
- The movie did likewise with her, and to greater extent but in fewer clips, Laura Jackson and a young brunette relative the Clampetts left behind.
- Spiritual Successor: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Nanny both followed this show's lead in moving their main characters from what is considered to be a lower class setting to a higher class one.
- Status Quo Is God: The only reason for the Clampetts, most of whom are otherwise quite intelligent, never getting to grips with even the basics of their new circumstances.
- Story Arc: A early sitcom example.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jethro's sister Jethrine.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Unresolved for most of the series' run is the one-sided sexual tension that Jane feels for Jethro. Oddly enough, Jethro seemed aware of Jane's feelings when they first got to know each other, but this was completely forgotten by the next episode and remained forgotten.
- Watering Down: Granny, a moonshiner, usually makes strong liquor, but she does this for the city folks who couldn't handle it at full strength.
- Westminster Chimes: They have a doorbell that makes this sound. Naturally, whenever someone rings the doorbell, they have no idea where the sound is coming from and attempt to search for its source. Their search is always then interrupted by someone knocking on the door.
- Lampshaded in the movie, where the family eventually figures out that someone is at the door when they hear the chimes, but still have no idea that the doorbell ringing is caused by the person at the door. (The Chimes themselves are replaced by a generic doorbell sound.)
- This lampshade was hung as early as the series, with the theory eventually reached being that there is an unseen lookout that plays the music when someone approaches.
- What a Piece of Junk: Their car.
- X-Ray Sparks: It happens to Jethro when he connects the telephone wire to the high-voltage electrical wire in "The Party Line".
- Well now it's time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin
They would like to thank you folks for kindly dropping in
You're all invited back next week/again to this locality
For another heapin' helpin' of their hospitality
Hillbilly, that is.
Sit a spell. Take your shoes off.
Y'all come back now, y'hear?