‘Beverly Hillbillies’: Don Rickles Once Guest-Starred in Classic Episode of Show

by Joe Rutland

Don Rickles is probably best known for his stand-up comedy routines. Yet he, too, did his time on TV shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

In fact, Rickles, jokingly nicknamed “Mr. Warmth” because of his style of put-down humor, plays Fred, a horse racing bettor, in a third-season episode called “Jed’s Temptation.” According to IMDB, Granny [Irene Ryan] is on the hunt to find Jed [Buddy Ebsen] a wife. She reaches out to Mr. Drysdale [Raymond Bailey] for his help.

So Mr. Drysdale leads Jed to Phyllis [Sylvia Lewis], but that goes awry as he learns she’s a gold digger. Uh-oh. Jed and Phyllis then head to the horse racing track for some betting action. That’s where we run into Fred, who has to deal with his nagging wife Marge [Iris Adrian].

“The Beverly Hillbillies” would not be Rickles’ only brush with guest-starring roles on TV sitcoms. Among others include “Run for Your Life,” “The Munsters,” “The Addams Family,” “Get Smart,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”

While Rickles appears in this episode, “The Beverly Hillbillies” would find itself as an unlikely hit during the 1960s. For eight of a nine-season run on CBS, show creator Paul Henning’s masterpiece found itself in the Top 20 shows in the Nielsen ratings. Twice the show finished No. 1 in the overall season ratings.

Yet CBS canceled it and many other “rural” shows in 1971 as the network was looking to engage a more mature audience. Viewers who loved the show, though, could start finding episodes appearing on their local TV stations thanks to the world of reruns.

‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Actually Had Different Name For The Show At First

Millions of people know “The Beverly Hillbillies” from watching the antics of Jed, Granny, Jethro [Max Baer Jr.], and Elly May [Donna Douglas]. Did you know, though, that the show had a different name at first?

It did. According to an article from The Life and Times of Hollywood, the show’s original name is “The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills.” But it’s just used in the show’s pilot, “The Clampetts Strike Oil.”

When the second episode comes around, the title is changed to “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

While Ebsen already was an established movie star thanks to roles in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” others like Baer Jr. and Douglas received their first true taste of success. Douglas played opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 film “Frankie and Johnny.”

Baer Jr. hit a big movie home run with “Macon County Line,” which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in during 1974. The film’s budget is $225,000. It makes $18.8 million in North America gross revenue box office receipts.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” stands the test of time when it comes to classic TV reruns. You can still catch the Clampett clan somewhere on a cable television network or streaming service these days.