‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Was Almost Set in New York Instead of California: Here’s Why the Location Changed

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Y’all familiar with The Beverly Hillbillies theme song? Come on, sing it with us.

Let’s skip over the black gold, Texas Tea part. Jed Clampett was out shooting for some food and up through the ground came some bubblin’ crude.

Que the banjos. Let’s go to the chorus, just after the kinfolk told Jed to get away from the country. Find the part where they said New York is the place you ought to be, so they loaded up the trucks and moved to N-Y-C.

Doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it. But did you know the Beverly Hillbillies almost was set in (loud gasp) New York?

We’re thinking Elly May would have been limited in the number of critters she could bring to New York City. Maybe they could’ve used Oliver and Lisa’s penthouse when that nice Douglas couple moved to Hooterville.

Yes, It’s True: Beverly Hillbillies Almost Had a New York Zipcode

Where would the Beverly Hillbillies be without the 90210 zip code? But it is true. Show creator Paul Henning initially thought of having Manhattan and not Beverly Hills as the show’s setting. We suppose Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane could’ve easily translated to a show in Manhattan.

But the Clampetts probably wouldn’t like all the honking taxi cabs. We feel sure Jed would shoot out their brake lights. But we digress.

Los Angeles won in Henning’s creative mind. Actually, the pragmatic part of Henning’s brain won out. He thought it cost too much to film there.

However, the Beverly Hillbillies did get to go to New York. Back in season eight, there was an arc of episodes about the Clampetts going to the famous city. The first episode was Jed Buys Central Park.

A con man convinced Jed Clampett into “buying” Central Park and several other New York landmarks. Granny also chases off muggers while she’s hunting possums. As always, there were lots of brilliant Hillbilly hijinx.

Show Creator Wrote What He Knew; Henning Grew Up in Missouri

But Beverly Hills was the best place for the Clampetts to be after they secured their oil fortune. Paul Hennings wrote what he knew. He was born in Missouri and came across some genuine mountain people, or hillbilles, when he was on a Boy Scout camping trip. He also had interactions with hillbillies when he saw a Civil War battle reenactment in Tennessee.

The Beverly Hillbillies ran from 1962 to 71. The series was a top 20 show in eight of its nine seasons and topped the ratings for two of those years. In its first three seasons, the show averaged 57 million viewers an episode.

Henning also continued to bring country charm onto television. He created Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. Both shows were set in Hooterville. The Clampetts actually had some kinfolk there, so the shows did a cross-promotion.

Since it’s Friday and almost the weekend, you’ve got plenty of time to find the Beverly Hillbillies somewhere in reruns. We want you to sit a spell. Take your shoes off.

And at Outsider, “Y’all come back now, y’hear?”

Outsider.com