‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: One Actor’s Father Was Legendary Boxer, Killed Two Competitors in the Ring

by Keeli Parkey

Actor Max Baer Jr. was famous for playing the goofy and lovable Jethro Bodine on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” But, did you know that he had a father who was also famous?

So what did the actor’s father do for his career? Well, Max Baer Sr. was famous for using his fists as a heavyweight boxer. And, according to reports, he was such a force in the boxing ring that at least one boxer died as a result of their fight. Some believe a fight with Baer Sr. also led to another boxer’s death.

This seems like a far stretch from Jethro on “The Beverly Hillbillies” doesn’t it? Here’s a little background on Max Baer Sr. He was born on Feb. 11, 1909, in Omaha, Nebraska. The Baer family moved from Nebraska to California in 1922. While living there his father Jacob leased a ranch and Max Sr. was put to work.

He would later credit the manual labor he did growing up with helping him develop the strength he used in the boxing ring.

Father of ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Actor Max Baer Jr. Became a Professional Boxer in 1929

It was during 1929, that Max Bear Sr. decided to become a professional boxer. On Aug. 25 of the following year, the boxer faced off against Frankie Campbell in San Francisco. At one point in the fight, Baer Sr. had Campbell on the ropes and was landing punch after punch after punch.

Finally, the referee stopped the fight, but the damage had reportedly been done.

Baer reportedly went to visit with his gravely injured opponent after the fight. Unfortunately, Campbell died the next day. Baer Sr. broke down when he heard the news. Baer Sr. was even charged with manslaughter after Campbell’s death, according to his biography on Wikipedia.com. He was acquitted.

In 1932, Baer Sr. faced Ernie Schaaf. Baer Sr. won that bout. Five months later, Schaaf also died in the ring. Although he was facing another boxer at the time, Schaaf’s fight with Baer was thought by some to have contributed to his death.

According to IMDb.com, Max Baer Jr. of “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame said his father did not care much for his portrayal in the film “Cinderella Man.” Baer Sr. is portrayed as being proud that he killed someone during a fight. His son said this was not the case.

In fact, the incident always bothered Baer Sr. The 2005 movie starred Russell Crowe as boxer James J. Braddock. Craig Bierko played Max Baer Sr. in the film.

Baer Sr.’s boxing career is one that has been remembered by fans of the sport for years. In fact, “The Ring” magazine listed him as No. 22 on the publication’s greatest punchers of all time list, according to Wikipedia.com.

He retired in 1941 with a record of 71-13. He was also Heavyweight Champion of the World during 1934-1935. Max Baer Sr. died on Nov. 21, 1959.