The entire first season (all 36 episodes) as well as the first 19 episodes of the second season are in the public domain. The 20th episode of Season 2 through to the end of the series are still under copyright protection. These 55 episodes ended up in the public domain because CBS, having bought the rights to the series shortly after its cancellation, neglected to renew their copyrights. As a result, these episodes have been unofficially released on home video and DVD on many low-budget labels. In many video prints of the public domain episodes, the original and much-loved theme music has been replaced by generic music due to copyright issues.
The 1971 cancellation of the series resulted from CBS' desire to erase its image of "The Country Broadcasting System" or "The Rural Network." The first rural-themed sitcom to be can celled was "Petticoat Junction" (1963), which was replaced by "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970) in the fall of 1970. Then the following year, this series and "Green Acres" (1965) were canceled along with other similarly themed programs on the schedule by CBS President Fred Silverman (II). Even though the shows were still popular overall with viewers and drawing decent ratings in their time slots, they didn't appeal to the younger urban demographic that advertisers wanted. Pat Buttram (I). who had played "Mr. Haney" on "Green Acres", was quoted as saying that "CBS canceled every show with a tree in it . . . including "Lassie" (1954)!".
Veteran character actress and voice artist Bea Benaderet was first considered for the role of Granny. Revisions in the character were made so that she would be more like "Mammy Yokum" in Al Capp's "Li'l Abner" cartoon strip. Benaderet was too large and "busty" to fit that image. It was reported that Benaderet herself suggested Irene Ryan for the role; by all accounts she came in and "blew everyone away" with a wonderful screen test, which still survives and is included as an extra on the DVD set.
Series creator Paul Henning got the idea for the show while on a trip through the South in 1959, visiting Civil War sites with his mother-in-law. He wondered what it would be like to take a family from the rural South in the Civil War era and put them down in the middle of a modern, sophisticated community. Originally it was to have been set in New York, but because of cost considerations the setting was changed to Beverly Hills, CA.
When the show debuted on , September 26, 1962, Jed Clampett's fortune was given as $25 million. After adjusting for inflation, this amount would be equivalent to $195 million as of this writing (2014).. At the end of the show's run the fortune had climbed to $100 million, which would now be equivalent to $583 million.
During the early years of the show, rumors persisted that Irene Ryan was actually younger than Donna Douglas, but wore extensive makeup as Granny. Ryan was born in 1902 and Douglas was born in 1933. Buddy Ebsen later joked after the "Beverly Hillbillies" family members had ended how could anyone could believe such a naive thing.
Jed Clampett was originally written as an extremely naive hick, but Buddy Ebsen would only agree to take the role if it was re-written; Jed might be uneducated, but he wasn't foolish. The character of Jethro was created in order to have someone to give all the "dumb" lines to.
On June 29, 1966, the Dutch broadcasting station NCRV aired what it claimed to be the last episode. With the absence of the Internet, facts like these were hard to verify by the viewers. From 1973-74 the NCRV aired the unaired episodes in the Netherlands.
During the last six seasons, as each weekly episode concluded, and Jerry Scoggins sang the closing tune, "Elly May Clampett" Donna Douglas spoke off screen, saying "Thanks, and we'll be back, next week at this same time and same channel.", just as the closing credits were nearing the final ten seconds, and just before a commercial break started, of the next show.
Just before the fourth season got underway, the wife of Arnold Kirkeby--ho owned the actual mansion that was shown as the Clampetts' home--apparently broke the agreement her late husband had made with Filmways Productions because the mansion's address was leaked. It caused an endless stream of tourists to come to the mansion, looking for Jed and Granny. Filmways was not allowed to film the mansion's exterior or any long shots of the mansion grounds after that.
The Clampetts' truck was a 1921 Oldsmobile. It was lent by Cousin Pearl when the family moved to California. The truck body was actually found by series producer Paul Henning (I) in a junkyard, and the studio had it built into a working truck.
An agreement was made between Filmways Productions and Arnold Kirkeby to film the exterior of the Kirkeby mansion. The agreement stipulated that the grounds had to be cleaned up after filming, and the address of the Kirkeby mansion was never to be divulged to the public.
Milburn Drysdale's bank was the fictitious Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills, no doubt borrowed from the actual Commerce Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, contiguously located next to Independence, Missouri which was show creator Paul Henning's childhood home.
Raymond Bailey (I) was already starting to suffer from the effects of Alzheimer's disease when the show was nearing the end of its run; it was apparent in some of his final scenes that he was not 100% healthy.
During Season 1, Max Baer Jr. occasionally played the dual role of Jethro and his twin sister, Jethrine Bodine. Linda Henning, daughter of series creator, Paul Henning, supplied Jethrine Bodine's voice.
When Nancy Kulp (who was a Democrat) was running for a political office in her home state back in the 1980s, Buddy Ebsen (who was a Republican) endorsed her opponent publicly by appearing in a political ad that ran against her.
At the end of the opening credits you can see Jed start to point out something to the others towards camera left. In the network broadcasts, the camera changes to show that Jed is pointing to a billboard for Kellogg's Corn Flakes, the sponsor of the show. As the car drives past it, the theme song continues, changing to the then current slogan "K-E-Double L-O-Double Good. Kellogg's best to you". In other openings they drive by a Winston Cigarette truck with the Winston motto, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should".
During the first two seasons, the show was the #1 series in the country according to the Nielsen ratings. The third season was ranked #12. The fourth and fifth seasons were ranked #7, the sixth season #1, the seventh #10,l the eighth #18 and the ninth : #33.
Sonny was Margaret Drysdale's son from a previous marriage. His actual last name was never revealed and he was always known as Sonny Drysdale. Louis Nye, who played Sonny, was only eight years younger than Harriet E. MacGibbon, who played his mother.
The original title of the show was supposed to be "The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills". This was only seen in the original pilot episode "The Clampetts Strike Oil". It was changed to "The Beverly Hillbillies" in the second episode. The theme song "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" originally debuted in episode two as well. In the pilot episode the song used was "Banjo Signal". The original name and theme is difficult to find today since in syndication, it's been changed to match the rest of the series. The original name and theme song used in the pilot episode can be found on the official complete season one release along with an expanded pilot episode as well as the shows original sponsor endorsements.
Buddy Ebsen's character of Jed Clampett was intended to be wise if not educated. In order to share his wisdom after Jetro demonstrated incredible ignorance, he had a quip that he was "going to have a long talk with that boy". It was recited 22 times.
In the original pilot episode, "The Hillbillies of Beverly Hill"s, the narrator states as the cast is just entering the gate of the mansion. "Let's take them back to their home in the Ozarks and see how this whole thing got started". In a later episode it is mentioned that Granny is from Tennessee. Her character was born in Tennessee and moved to the Ozarks (probably Missouri, since that is where Paul Henning (I), the show's creator, was from).
During the run of the series, Raymond Bailey (I) (Mr. Drysdale) was closest to Nancy Kulp. Even after the series was over, she was one of the only people to visit him, since he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, and was pretty much a recluse. He always referred to her as "Slim".
Jed's late wife's name full name is Rose Ellen Moses. Granny's name is Daisy May Moses. Cousin, Pearl is Pearl Bodine and she is a widow, her husband was Fred Bodine. Granny is Jed's mother-in-law. Pearl Bodine is Jed's first cousin. That makes Jethro and Jethrine second cousins to Elly May. Jethro/Jethrine are first cousins once removed to Jed. Elly May is First first cousin once removed from Pearl. Jethro/Jethrine is Granny's grandnephew/grandniece. Elly May is Pearl Bodine's grandniece.
Off- the set, Buddy Ebsen and Nancy Kulp both had a political argument. He even supported her Republican opponent, incumbent Representative Bud Shuster, going so far as to tape an ad for Shuster that labeled Kulp as "too liberal". Ebsen claimed she was exploiting her celebrity status and did not know the issues.
According to [Max Baer Jr.], [Irene Ryan] was a heavy smoker and a drinker, both on- and off- the set. After the cancellation of the series, she was offered a starring role in a proposed television series in which she would have played a character similar to that of Granny. Despite her interest in the idea of doing a new series, she decided to put the project on hold so that she could fulfill her dream of performing on Broadway. Ultimately, the proposed TV series never came into fruition, since her death in 1973 ended any chances of it being produced.
Based on statements made by Jed and the other characters in the show, at the start of the show Jethro was supposed to be approximately 16 years of age, which would have made Elly May approximately 14 years of age.