‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: Was Show Canceled Due to a Controversial Scene?

by Joe Rutland
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“The Beverly Hillbillies” dominated ratings throughout its nine-season run on CBS. Some might think the show was canceled over a scene.

Fans who have religiously watched “Hillbillies” episodes from its network run through syndicated reruns may not know why it was taken off CBS. There have been a number of suggestions made over the years. One of them had to do with some type of controversial scene in an episode.

Many YouTube classic TV videos will go through point after point about why a show was canceled or about its characters who didn’t get along. Pick a subject on your favorite old-time TV show and you’ll find a video about it.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Is Pretty Tame For CBS Executives

Let’s take a look, though, at one real-life example and compare it to the “Hillbillies” situation.

Back when the show originally ran between 1962-71, CBS’ “Standards and Practices” department was known as one of the most stringent in TV. For example, take when legendary rock-and-roll band The Doors appeared on CBS’ “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967. That show’s producers specifically asked lead singer Jim Morrison to not sing the line “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” from the band’s hit song “Light My Fire.”

The show’s producers, along with “Standards and Practices,” felt that lyric had a drug reference to it. Sullivan wanted to keep his show clean and family-friendly for all.

Morrison agreed before the show, then went ahead and sang the original lyric live on the Sunday night TV staple. The controversy around that led to The Doors never appearing on the “Sullivan” show again.

Network Decision Caused End To ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’

Why bring that up in a story on “The Beverly Hillbillies?” Because one of those events did happen, meaning The Doors’ actions on live TV.

There was no controversial scene in “The Beverly Hillbillies” that led to the show’s cancellation. It remained a wholesome show from its first episode until the last one. About the only thing that people try to connect as “scandalous” to the “Hillbillies” were some of the bathing suits worn by actress Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett on the show.

Fans wondering why the show was canceled on CBS can simply know that it was all due to a network decision. The show regularly performed well, reaching the No. 1 spot in Nielsen ratings during its first two seasons. It remained a Top 20 show in eight of its nine seasons.

So, why cancel it? CBS reached a decision to get rid of its “rural” programming, meaning shows like “Green Acres,” “Petticoat Junction,” “Mayberry R.F.D.,” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” were axed.

Controversial Scene Never Happened On ‘Hillbillies’

There was no singular scene that led to the show’s cancellation. It was simply a network decision. In fact, other variety shows popular at the time were canceled. “The Ed Sullivan Show” would find itself off the network in 1971 after a nearly quarter-century run on CBS.

As much as fans and others want to find a single, outlandish reason for the show’s demise, it all came down to the CBS network’s bosses. A lot of those shows happened to be replaced by others like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “All In The Family” that led CBS to even greater success.

Fans of “The Beverly Hillbillies” can still tune into the antics of Uncle Jed, Granny, Jethro, Elly May, Mr. Drysdale, Ms. Jane, and enjoy them day after day. The show might have been caught up in a wave of cancellations, but its humor and down-home flavor are still alive.

H/T: Snopes

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