‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Max Baer Jr. Reflected on How He Started Acting

by Hannah Heser
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The Beverly Hillbillies star Max Baer Jr. once reflected on how his acting career began in a past interview. He revealed that he picked up this gig because he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps as a professional boxer. And he had James Garner to thank.

Baer bared a passing resemblance to the Maverick star. And that helped his career. While he was out to eat one day, a talent agent spotted him and signed him instantly. Afterward, he starred in films like Macon County Line and The Wild McCullochs. These opportunities helped him realize that he had a natural gift.

The Reason Max Baer Jr. Started Acting

The Five Count radio show in Minnesota had a brief interview with him a few years ago. During the interview, Baer Jr. discussed what inspired his career.

“Oh, it was an accident. I was at lunch at Warner Brothers one day with a friend of mine. Someone recognized him there. Since James Garner had just left Maverick and they were looking for somebody to replace him. I resembled him a little bit because somebody thought I was him from the distance. So, they asked me if I wanted to act, and I said ‘I don’t know, what does it pay?’ They signed me to a general contract that was $250 per week. It was 1960 when this happened.”

Also, the show’s on ABC at the time taught him a lot about the camera and other parts of the industry. He mentioned that it was a great education and started his long-time career. After his year-long contract ended, he auditioned for the Beverly Hillbillies, which aired for nine years. And this show is the one he’s most known for.

Growing up, he didn’t have an interest in boxing since his father told him it’s a religious sport. At the time, he didn’t have a strong passion for it, so he went another route. And ultimately it paid off for the classic sitcom star.

Max Declined His Return on Beverly Hillbillies

In 1981, the Beverly Hillbillies reunited in Return of the Beverly Hillbillies. The reunion featured the likes of Buddy Ebsen, Donna Douglas, and Nancy Kulp. According to ALLVIPP, Max felt typecast after the show’s abrupt cancellation. He never thought he looked good on camera, which made him self-conscious.

“I thought I had a fat face, and I didn’t think I was ever any good or good looking,” Max told ALLVIPP. “When they did a reunion in 1981, I wanted no part of it.”

So “Jethro” was played by actor, Ray Young.