The Beverly Hillbillies series starts with the OK Oil Company learning of oil in Jed Clampett's swamp land and paying him a fortune to acquire the rights to drill on his land. Patriarch Jed moves with his family into a mansion next door to his banker (Milburn Drysdale) in the wealthy Los Angeles County city of Beverly Hills, California, where he brings a moral, unsophisticated, and minimalistic lifestyle to the swanky, sometimes self-obsessed and superficial community. The theme song introduces the viewer to the world's most fortunate hunting accident – whereby Jed shoots at game but instead hits "black gold, Texas tea": he had discovered oil. Double entendres and cultural misconceptions were the core of the sitcom's humor. Frequently, plots involved the outlandish efforts taken by Drysdale to keep the Clampetts in Beverly Hills and their money in his bank. The family's periodic attempts to return to the mountains were often prompted by Granny due to a perceived slight she received from one of the "city-folk." The Beverly Hillbillies accumulated seven Emmy nominations during its run. Nearly a half century since its premiere, the series remains in syndication on MeTV.
The Hillbillies themselves were Buddy Ebsen as the widowed patriarch Jed "J.D." Clampett; Irene Ryan as his ornery mother-in-law, Daisy May "Granny" Moses; Donna Douglas as his curvaceous, tom-boy daughter Elly May Clampett; and Max Baer, Jr. as Jethro, the brawny, half-witted son of his cousin Pearl Bodine. Pearl (played by Bea Benaderet) appeared in most of the first season episodes, as did Jethro's twin sister Jethrine, played by Baer in drag, using Linda Kaye Henning's voiceover. Pearl was the relative who prodded Jed to move to California, after being told his modest property could yield $25 million.
The supporting cast featured Raymond Bailey as Jed's greedy, unscrupulous banker Milburn Drysdale; Harriet E. MacGibbon as Drysdale's ostentatious wife Margaret Drysdale; and Nancy Kulp as "Miss" Jane Hathaway, Drysdale's scholarly, "plain Jane" secretary, who pined for the clueless Jethro.
While Granny frequently mentioned that she was from Tennessee, the series never specified the state from which the Clampetts moved to California. However, they often referred to nearby towns such as Joplin, Branson, Springfield, Tulsa, Silver Dollar City, all of which are in or near southwest Missouri. In the eighth episode of season 8, named "Manhattan Hillbillies," Granny tells the police officer in Central Park that her family comes from Taney County (which is in southwest Missouri). Early episodes also contained several references to Eureka Springs, which is in northwest Arkansas. All of the communities are in the Ozark Mountains. The show's creator and producer, Paul Henning is from Independence, Missouri, and donated 1,534 acres (621 ha) for the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area near Branson.
A three-act stage play based on the pilot was written by David Rogers in 1968.
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