‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: When Did the First Episode Filmed in Color Air on TV?

by Madison Miller

When new technology was introduced to allow television shows to premiere in color it would completely change the game of both TV and entertainment as a whole. It would also change shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” in the middle of the series.

Suddenly, shows had new considerations to think of in terms of costumes, set design, props, and even makeup. The use of color can completely change the mood or even the meaning of a scene.

Many TV shows switched from being in just black-and-white to color in the middle of the series. One show that did this was “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The series featured a family that had suddenly become very wealthy and moved to Beverly Hills, California, to live a more extravagant life. The family, which originally lived in a rural area, had to learn the new rules and social guidelines of this rich lifestyle.

They had a series of upgrades, including an incredibly nice mansion. They also got the upgrade from black-and-white to color about halfway through the series. The show was amongst many shows in the ’60s that made this change.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Switches to Color

According to IMDb, the series was filmed in black-and-white for the first three seasons from 1962 to 1965. Then the first episode, “Admiral Jed Clampett,” was aired in color on September 15, 1965.

After that, the remainder of the episodes during the nine-season show was instead aired in color until the show ended in 1971. There were 168 episodes in color and 106 filmed in black-and-white. The show had about half in black-and-white and half in color.

“Admiral Jed Clampett” was the first episode of season four. In the episode, Mr. Drysdale tries to influence Jed to buy a new yacht. He also wants him to join a prestigious yacht club. Somehow, in typical “The Beverly Hillbillies” fashion, there is a massive misunderstanding. It ends with the U.S. Navy interfering by the end of the episode. During the episode, Clampett is wearing a uniform of a Vice Admiral.

The Switch to Color on TV

There was a limited number of color broadcasts in the 1950s. However, in the early 1960s, color TV started to become normal. NBC helped it take off leading to the color revolution of 1965.

Besides “The Beverly Hillbillies,” there were other shows that had to figure out that change to color. Some shows took on a completely different tone and viewing experience once it happened. Some of these shows include “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Adventures of Superman,” “The Flintstones,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “Bewitched.”

By 1965 color broadcasting was popular, but many people still didn’t have color television sets. According to NBC, there were only 2,860,000 households in the U.S. that had these sets. Shows that started before 1965 to 1966 were forced to convert to color at the start of the 1966-1967 season.

The switch to color was a massive moment in television history. Movies in color would soon garner a lot of attention as well, using color to dramatically add to the plot like in “Wizard of Oz.”