Do you remember the Beverly Hillbillies taking their country life all the way to New York and Central Park?
And to make this three-part season premiere all the more memorable was a cameo by the cool cat himself, Sammy Davis Jr. Yes, this member of the Rat Pack who hung out with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin gave the Beverly Hillbillies a dose of hipness. And he played a cop.
The Sammy Davis J. episode ran Nov. 12, 1969. The Beverly Hillbillies was nearing the end of its nine-year run. And the series needed some new ideas. So they took the show on location to New York, where Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May, along with Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane had free reign of the Big Apple.
So, can we get a wee-doggie, please? If Beverly Hills residents found the Clampetts odd, you can imagine how crowded, chaotic Manhattan citizens responded to the family.
In the conclusion of a three-part story arc, the Clampetts have taken up residence in New York’s Central Park. It’s all the handiwork of con artist Shifty Shafer (Phil Silvers), who has “sold” the hillbillies this choice bit of mid-Manhattan real estate. As the Clampetts erect a cabin and begin plowing up the “north 40,” Drysdale and Jane desperately try to persuade the family to return to Beverly Hills. Sammy Davis Jr.’s cameo appearance as an Irish cop (!) was supposed to have been a surprise, but the original TV Guide listings gave the game away. Largely filmed on location, “Manhattan Hillbillies” first aired on November 12, 1969.
Sammy Davis Jr played Sgt. Patrick Muldoon. The series liked its high-profile guest stars. Check out this Outsider story on the time Don Rickles was on the show.
Sammy Davis Jr Was Long-time Friend of Beverly Hillbillies Writer
The singer had a personal connection to the Beverly Hillbillies. He was long-time friends with Dick Wesson, who joined the show as a writer. He also played a taxi driver in the series. Wesson and show creator Paul Henning wrote the Manhattan episode.
Here’s a Beverly Hillbillies fun fact. Henning very nearly placed the Clampetts in New York rather than Beverly Hills. But Henning figured out it would cost too much to film a series in NYC. Granny would’ve been funny, either way, whether she was in California or New York. But California offered more space for the Hillbilly hijinx.
Sammy Davis Jr, as a cop, definitely represented a creative plot point for the Beverly Hillbillies. He hosted his own network variety show in the 1960s and was a star in the movies and on Broadway.
Davis, after his cameo on the show, still was three years away from releasing his most popular song — The Candy Man.
Meanwhile, the Beverly Hillbillies continued until 1971. The show lost its novelty. The ratings weren’t bad. It still was a top 20 show when Davis Jr made his cameo in season eight, but it fell out of the top 30 in its final season.
Sammy Davis Jr died in 1990 at age 64. Max Baer Jr, who played Jethro, is the last surviving Beverly Hillbillies cast member.