‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: What Was the Show’s Original Name?

by Joe Rutland

Wait a minute. “The Beverly Hillbillies” wasn’t the show’s original name? Well doggies, as Uncle Jed might say. What was it?

According to an article from The Life and Times of Hollywood, it was originally going to be called “The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills.” That title, though, was only used in the show’s pilot that was titled “The Clampetts Strike Oil.”

When the second episode came around, the title was changed to what the world knows now as “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

As a side note, fans can pretty much hum the show’s theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” in their sleep. It was made famous by country music legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. But even that was different in the pilot as the theme song was called “Banjo Signal.”

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Finds Itself Among Top 20 Rankings In Eight Of Nine Seasons

One thing that didn’t change, though, was the humor that Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett, Irene Ryan, Max Baer Jr., and Donna Douglas offered up week after week.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” hit the airwaves on CBS in 1962 and became an instant hit. The show lasted for nine seasons until it was canceled in 1971. For eight of its nine seasons, show creator Paul Henning’s masterpiece found itself in the Top 20 shows in the Nielsen ratings. Two of those seasons would find “The Beverly Hillbillies” finishing No. 1 in the overall season ratings.

Imagine a show like that getting so much attention in today’s TV world. It might be difficult since back in those days, TV viewers only had three networks to choose from in CBS, NBC, and ABC. That’s a much different world from the hundred-plus channels across cable television and streaming services today.

People from all over the world keep falling in love with “The Beverly Hillbillies” and its insane plots. Who comes up with the idea of some country bumpkin’ firing his rifle into the ground and oil coming up? Then putting him and his family in a Beverly Hills mansion where even the doorbell ring drives them a bit nuts?

Ebsen Would Go On After Show Ends To Play ‘Barnaby Jones’

The show provided many laughs and the cast did their best to keep them coming throughout its nine-season run. After the show ended, Ebsen would go on and play private investigator “Barnaby Jones” on CBS. But Ebsen, Ryan, and Douglas have all died since the show originally aired. Same goes for Raymond Bailey, who played banker Milburn Drysdale, and Nancy Kulp, who played secretary Jane Hathaway.

So, is anyone from “The Beverly Hillbillies” original cast still around? Yes. Baer Jr., who would become one of Hollywood’s great stories, is alive at 83 years old.

He wrote and directed the movie “Macon County Line,” which hit movie screens in 1974 on a $110,000 budget. The movie raked in $25 million-plus at the box office. What an amazing story about a guy typecast as Jethro Bodine in the entertainment world.