For the creator of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” his show became a success because people connected with its characters. It’s not difficult to love the Clampetts, after all.
That creator was Paul Henning. And, he talked about the importance of characters to a television series during an interview with the Television Academy Foundation in 1997. He passed away in 2005.
“Characters are what make a television show. It’s not true in a movie,” Henning explained. “For example, you can have the scariest, most horrible movie, but you have a captive audience. And, when the movie is over they escape. But, you would not want to invite them into your home on a weekly basis or on a regular basis.”
For a television series, including “The Beverly Hillbillies,” to succeed viewers should enjoy getting to know the characters.
“So, television depends on characters and on people liking those characters and wanting them to visit in their house again, because it’s an easy thing, you know, to click a switch and change channels,” Henning also said. “So, you have to hope that your characters become friends of the people watching. Our characters did.”
One reason viewers became friends of “The Beverly Hillbillies” characters is that the characters stayed true to their roots, according to Henning.
“They never forgot their basic values,” he said. “Jed Clampett was the same man when he was worth $100 million as when he was poor and couldn’t afford a loaf of bread. Of course, Granny didn’t want to change. She always thought they had left paradise to come to Beverly Hills.”
You can watch Paul Henning talk about “The Beverly Hillbillies” below. His comments about the characters not losing their roots begin around the 2:15 mark of the video.
The Reveal of Iconic Mansion’s Location Wrecked ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Switch to Color
The creator of “The Beverly Hillbillies” shared other behind-the-scenes details about the show with the Television Academy Foundation. One memory he shared involved the show’s switch from black and white to color.
That switch did not go smoothly because fans found out the actual location of the mansion used in the show as the Clampett’s Beverly Hills home.
“… I think it was – I hope I’m not saying the wrong thing – I think it was TV Guide who said the actual ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ mansion is located at and gave the address,” Henning recalled.
Fans began to flock to the mansion. Unsurprisingly, its owner was bothered by this and eventually told Henning and company they could no longer film at the mansion. The creator said “this was a great blow” to “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
To make matters worse, they were just getting ready to film the mansion in color for the show’s switch from black and white. So, they had to work some Hollywood magic.
“We faked it,” Henning said. “We shot around various locations and used different places.”