The Beverly Hillbillies was a groundbreaking sitcom that aired on CBS in 1962 and ran for nine seasons until its eventual end in 1971. Today, nostalgic adults still watch the show in syndication, and even the children of today can appreciate its wacky humor.
The show followed the Clampett family, a rural hillbilly troupe displace from their home by the government when a rich deposit of oil found in their very backyard. The family became rich from the oil, and moved to Beverly Hills in an opulent mansion. The hilarious premise was rich with opportunities for crazy scenarios. Audience members roared with laughter as they watched the backwoods family try to get used to a wealthy lifestyle.
Even though the show mainly focused on comedy, it had a few touching moral stories, as well. While the “country bumpkin” type are typically looked down upon by the wealthier members of society, the show taught many Americans to appreciate the simpler things in life. It taught people that it’s important not to underestimate others just because they don’t have an impressive career or educational background.
Of course, the most important part of the show was the hilarious shenanigans of the characters. Audience members loved to watch the Clampetts clash with their snooty Beverly Hills neighbors; as well as watch the Clampetts bumble around with more riches than the family had ever dreamed of. And naturally, none of these hilarious performances possible without the show’s stellar cast. An ensemble cast requires not only a variety of impressive actors, but actors who have great chemistry with one another. Despite the actor’s very different life experiences, they were all able to get along on set and perform so that audience members could enjoy an evening of uproarious laughter.
The legendary actor Buddy Ebsen certainly drew audiences in with his impressive acting background, but the show featured many other acting gems who weren’t quite as famous as Ebsen at the time.
Sadly, because the show aired so long ago, many of the cast members have been lost to age and illness. In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at the contributions of each member of The Beverly Hillbillies cast, as well as the way each cast member eventually died. Make sure you stick around, because we’re going to reveal the tragic end of legendary actor Buddy Ebsen!
Irene Ryan is perharps best known for her role as Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies. In fact, she become nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. However, outside of The Beverly Hillbillies, she also known for her Broadway and vaudeville performances, as well as work in film, television, and radio.
Ryan’s career began at the tender age of eleven, when she won a cash prize at a singing contest. From there, she would perform in a double act vaudeville performance with her husband at the age of 20. And she began to find roles in film an television.
However, Ryan had a terrible smoking habit, and her castmate Max Baer Jr. even mentioned that she “smoked like a chimney” during one interview. In 1973, while performing Pippin onstage, she suffered a stroke and sent to the hospital. There, the doctors discovered that she suffered from a malignant brain tumor. And she died on April 26th, 1973, at 70 years old. Her former castmates from The Beverly Hillbillies all deeply saddened by her passing.
Buddy Ebsen was the crowning jewel of The Beverly Hillbillies. But did you know that he originally didn’t even want to play the role in the first place? When he got ask to play the role of Jed Clampett, Ebsen nearly turned down the role. Thankfully, he decided to accept it eventually, and became incredibly dedicated to his character. He even started playing bluegrass music on various instruments so that his character would feel more authentic to the audience!
The Beverly Hillbillies wasn’t the only show Buddy Ebsen known for, though. He also starred in Baraby Jones, and even acted in the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
Buddy Ebsen finalized his career in 1999. With his final acting appearance being in the show King of the Hill as the character Chet Elderson. His old age and failing health caused him to stop acting. He spend the rest of his days living a quiet life in California. He died on July 6th, 2003, at the age of 95. Actors all over the country mourned his passing, recalling just how much life he brought to the acting industry. His work left a lasting impression on film and television forever.
Nancy Kulp is well known for playing the role of Jane Hathaway, the role of the secretary in The Beverly Hillbillies. However, her first passion in life was journalism. Still, she became interested in film, and began landing non-speaking parts. After playing the secretary on The Bob Cunningham Show. However, other directors began to realize she had a real talent for comedy. Not long after, she casted in The Beverly Hillbillies.
After The Beverly Hillbillies, she attempted to run for Congress, but surprisingly opposed by none other than her former castmate, Buddy Ebsen. She lost the race, and moved to Palm Springs, where she decided to spend the rest of her days devoted to charity organizations.
Sadly, however, Kulp diagnosed with cancer in 1990, and died a year later, on February 3rd, 1991, at age 69.
The Beverly Hillbillies aired a long time ago, so most of the amazing cast members of the show have sadly passed away since then. However, there’s one cast member who hasn’t died yet! Make sure you stick around, because we’re going to reveal exactly which cast member from The Beverly Hillbillies is still alive today.
Donna Douglas is well known for playing the role of Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. But she had an impressive acting career even outside of the popular sitcom. In fact, she even starred alongside Elvis Presley in the 1966 film Frankie and Johnny.
Right after The Beverly Hillbillies wrapped up, however, Douglas decided it was time for a career change. Donna found a job as a real estate agent, though it didn’t last long. She continued to act for a little while longer before become a gospel singer. She worked as a speaker for church groups, and even travelled to churches with her beautiful singing voice. Donna Douglas later even recorded and sold several gospel and country music records. Finally, she also wrote a children’s book titled Miss Donna’s Mulberry Acre’s Farm.
Later on, Douglas lived a peaceful life filled with travel, gardening, and spending quality time with close friends and family. Sadly, she died on January 1st, 2015 from pancreatic cancer. She was 82 years old.
Raymond Bailey played the role of Mr. Drysdale, the banker who managed Jed Clampett’s fortune. In the show, Jed Clampett would frequently nearly change his mind by withdrawing his money and returning to is old home in the country. Mr. Drysdale, however, would greedily find away to keep the Clampett family firmly located in Beverly Hills, to increase his own wealth.
During the last few episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, however, Raymond Bailey began to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, and only made a few film appearances after the show cancelled. In 1975, however, he had to retire due to his Alzheimer’s. He spent his last years of life mostly a recluse, although he occasionally kept in touch with one of his former castmates, Nancy Kulp.
Raymond Bailey sadly died of a heart attack on April 15th, 1980, at age 75.
Max Baer Jr.
Max Baer Jr. landed fame after being cast to play the role of Jethro Bodine, and unlike the other cast members on this list, is actually still alive today. Even though Max Baer Jr. became famous for his role as Jethro, however, it ended up ruining his career as an actor. Directors simply couldn’t imagine him playing any other role, and he was unable to find work.
As a result, Max Baer Jr. was forced to make money in some other way. He purchased the rights to the show and made Beverly Hillbillies themed slot machines and casino games. He even attempted to create a casino of his own, but the project was suspended indefinitely. Nobody really knows what Max Baer Jr. is up to these days, but we all remember him fondly for his role as Jethro!
It’s sad to learn about the tragic endings of each of The Beverly Hillbillies cast members, even though the show aired quite some time ago. Were you more saddened to learn about the death of Buddy Ebsen, or about Nancy Kulp’s sad battle with cancer? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!