On This Day: ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Premieres on TV in 1962

by Joe Rutland

With Buddy Ebsen running out with a shotgun in hand and a dog by his side, “The Beverly Hillbillies” debuted on this day in 1962.

Who would have guessed that a TV sitcom about hillbillies moving to Beverly Hills would become one of the medium’s most successful shows? But “The Beverly Hillbillies” was definitely a hit for creator Paul Henning and CBS.

Ebsen starred as Jed Clampett, a poor mountaineer who had the best luck with one of his shots. Turns out that Uncle Jed struck oil in the Ozarks, taking him and his family members from a shack to a mansion.

Oh, the Twitter scene did not forget this auspicious day. RetroNewsNow shared the show’s opening from its black-and-white days. Take a look and try not tapping your feet to the theme song.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Became TV’s No. 1 Show In Its First Two Seasons on CBS

As we mentioned, Ebsen starred in the TV sitcom along with Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr., Raymond Bailey, and Nancy Kulp.

Ryan played the gruff-but-funny Granny, Douglas was the innocent-yet-beautiful Elly May, and Baer played innocent Jethro Bodine. Bailey, a veteran character actor in both movies and TV shows, played banker Milburn Drysdale. Kulp, who also put together some solid acting credits, played forlorn and man-crazy secretary Jane Hathaway.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” ruled TV airwaves for many of its nine seasons on CBS. It paved the way for the network to give Henning carte blanche with two other sitcoms, “Green Acres” and “Petticoat Junction.” While they had some success, those two shows never reached the stature of the “Hillbillies.”

That sitcom finished No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for its first two seasons. Then the show was among the Top 20 shows in eight of its nine seasons.

Early Episodes Had Future ‘Petticoat Junction’ Stars Bea Benadaret, Linda Kaye Henning

Early episodes also featured Bea Benadaret, who played Pearl Bodine, Jethro’s mother. The show even had Baer dress up as a woman, appearing as Jethro’s sister, Jethrine. Viewers saw Baer dressed up but that was not his voice. Linda Kaye Henning, daughter of creator Paul Henning, provided the voiceover as Jethrine only appeared in 11 episodes from the show’s first season.

Linda Kaye Henning, though, would have a starring role as one of the Bradley sisters on “Petticoat Junction.”

“The Ballad of Jed Clampett” is the song, Outsiders, that you hear on each episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Henning managed to get the country and bluegrass superstars Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to play and record the song. Jerry Scoggins provided the vocals that have you singing along and hum, “Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed.”