The Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies

“Well, listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed,
Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude…
Oil, that is… black gold…Texas tea…”

Thanks to the miraculous discovery of an oil well, a clan of rural folk known as The Beverly Hillbillies found their way to a world of luxury in the wealthy community of Bel Air. The ensuing antics as they tried to assimilate into their new high-brow surroundings was the simple, yet endearing premise that made them a television favorite for generations to come.

Debuting on the CBS network in 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies starred Buddy Ebsen as family patriarch Jed Clampett, a mountain man who discovered oil while out shooting his supper. With his newfound wealth, he moves his entire clan – his cantankerous Granny, his lovely daughter Elly May, cousin Pearl (in the first season, at least) and her dim-witted son Jethro – out of the sticks and into the luxurious community of Beverly Hills, a neighborhood no less foreign to them than a faraway planet. In the first episode, they arrive at their new abode, only to be arrested when they are mistaken as servants.

And that’s pretty much how it went for the misunderstood Clampett family. They raised their neighbors eyebrows when they went door-to-door to meet their fellow residents, not realizing it also happened to be Halloween. They raised their neighbors ire when they decided to raise cows, pigs and chickens in their backyard. And, much to their neighborhood’s disapproval, they drove their old, broken-down jalopy all over town. When they weren’t bickering with the local townsfolk, they were a fightin’ and a feudin’ amongst themselves … in a way only those lovable hillbillies could.

At the show’s peak, 60 million people were tuning into The Beverly Hillbillies each week, to find out what mess Jed Clampett and his rural kin were going to find themselves in. While the critics were far from enamored with the show, the public proved that a show didn’t need to be a critical success to find popularity among all demographics. In 1981, the remaining family members (Granny had died years earlier) would reunite for The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies, a made-for-television special. And finally, in 1993, an all-new cast, including Jim ‘Ernest’ Varney as Jed, would make it to the big screen in the feature film, The Beverly Hillbillies.

Today, even a few bars of the banjo-laden “Ballad of Jed Clampett,” written by Earl Scruggs, are all it takes to bring back fond memories of all who ever laughed at the misadventures of these fun-loving hicks, who struck it rich and moved to the opulent West Coast – and brought just about the entire television viewing population along for the hilarious ride.

If you were a fan of The Beverly Hillbillies back in the day, maybe even caught a few reruns on those days you stayed home sick from school, we would love to hear all of your favorite memories of this classic sitcom in our comments section below.

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