‘Beverly Hillbillies’: One Actor Explained Why They ‘Couldn’t’ Get Over Typecasting of Role

by Joe Rutland
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Many television stars from the classic TV era find themselves getting typecast into a role. “The Beverly Hillbillies” did this for one star.

Max Baer Jr. couldn’t catch a break because everybody would just see him as Jethro Bodine. On “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Jethro was the nephew of Jed Clampett, played by Buddy Ebsen.

Now Jethro wasn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch at times. His math skills were a bit off. His ability to get along with the opposite sex, while wanting, didn’t always work out in his favor.

‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Couldn’t Buy A Role From Producers

In an interview with FORE Magazine, Baer simply set the record straight about going in and getting work after his “Hillbillies” stint.

“I couldn’t go into a producer’s office and say I wanted to play the part of a neurosurgeon or pilot,” Baer said. “As soon as I came on screen, people would say, there’s Jethro.”

He played the role in 274 episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” He reportedly was just paid for 10 reruns of each episode. After that, it was no more money from the show for Baer. While Baer played Jethro and Ebsen played Jed, Irene Ryan played Granny and Donna Douglas played Elly May.

The CBS show was a major hit for the network in the 1960s. It was part of a number of shows created by Paul Henning, who also created “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres.”

But Baer found himself in a predicament after the show ended its run.

Max Baer Strikes His Own Brand Of Gold Thanks To 2 Movies

What to do, what to do…well, Baer actually did something that made him more than those residuals would have over time.

Baer reportedly took a script from “The Beverly Hillbillies,” turned it over, and wrote a movie script. When finished, it was called “Macon County Line.” Baer produced the movie for $110,000 in 1974. It earned $25 million at the box office. So much for that “Jethro” character.

What did Baer do next? Take Bobbie Gentry’s classic song “Ode to Billy Joe,” turn it into a movie, and direct the dang thing. That movie earned $27 million at the box office.

Now that’s how Max Baer Jr., son of former heavyweight boxing champion Max Baer, turned a problem into a solution. People started to pay attention to Baer much closer after those back-to-back movie victories.

Eventually, he could afford to make moves in the entertainment industry. The laughter from producers over Baer being Jethro quickly ended with those two 1970s blockbuster movies.

Outsider.com