Saturday, October 1, 2022

"How Can I Wait" by Olga San Juan

I was planning to do a post on Olga San Juan today, but I find myself suffering from some sort of early autumn cold. For now then, I will leave you with Olga San Juan performing "How Can I Wait?" from Paint Your Wagon. Olga San Juan played Jennifer Rumson in the Broadway show from its premiere on November 12 1951 to July 19 1952.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Cheers Turns 40

It was 40 years ago today, on September 30 1982, the classic sitcom Cheers debuted in NBC. Debuting to low ratings, it became one of the most successful shows of the Eighties. Except for its first two seasons, it ranked in the top twenty for each season. For its seven seasons it ranked in the top ten. Following its original network run, it would see enormous success as a syndicated rerun. It is still seen today on local stations and cable channels.

Cheers centred on the bar of the same name, located in Boston. Its owner was Sam Malone (Ted Danson), a former Major League baseball player who was also a womanizer. At the beginning of the show he hired a new waitress, Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) a graduate student attending Boston University who eventually has an on-again/off again relationship with Sam. Coach (Nicolas Colasanto) was a retired baseball coach and a bartender at Cheers who was apparently in the early stages of dementia. Carla Tortelli (Rhea Pearlman) was a  long time waitress at Cheers and the mother of five children known for not always being polite to customers. Norm (George Wendt) was one of Cheers's regulars and an accountant who is only occasionally employed. Joining the cast very early was Cliff (John Ratzenberger), another regular at Cheer and a postman who thinks he knows everything. Over the years there would be a few changes to the cast, with some characters leaving and other characters joining the cast.

Cheers was created by brothers Glen and Les Charles and James Burrows. The Charles brothers had written for such shows as The Bob Newhart Show and M*A*S*H. James Burrows had directed episodes of the shows The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. Initially the three men conceived of something along the lines of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which a group of co-workers behave as if they were family. They considered an American version of British sitcom Fawlty Towers, but then changed their idea to a bar, whereupon they drew upon the classic radio show Duffy's Tavern for inspiration. Different cities were considered for the location of the bar, including Barstow, California and Kansas City, Missouri. Eventually they decided to set their planned show on the East Coast and settled upon the location of Boston. They found the Bull & Finch Pub in a Boston phone book and asked the owner, Tom Kershaw, if they could shoot photos of the exterior and the interior for the show. Mr. Kershaw charged the producers only $1. The Bull & Finch Pub has since made a good deal of money from being the real-life bar upon which Cheers was modelled.

Initially the character of Sam Malone was to be a former football player and former NFL player Fred Dryer was considered for the role. The part eventually went to Ted Danson, who had more experience as an actor, having appeared in soap operas and several guest appearances on prime time shows. With the casting of Ted Danson, Sam was then made a former baseball player, the producers feeling that would be more believable than having Sam a former player in the NFL. Shelly Long, who had already appeared in the movies Caveman (1981) and Night Shift (1982), and had been recommended by others to the producers. The character of Cliff was created after John Ratzenberger had auditioned for the part of Norm, which went to George Wendt. After the audition John Ratzenberger asked the producers if they planned to have a bar "know-it-all," something common to most bars. As a result, Cliff Clavin was created.

Cheers debuted to low ratings. Its debut episode ranked 77 out of 100 shows in the Nielsen ratings for the week. Over the coming weeks, ratings did not rise particularly well either. Fortunately, Brandon Tartikoff, then president of NBC, saw something in the show and protected it from cancellation. The ratings for Cheers rose during the summer and it ultimately ranked no. 74 for the year. Its ratings improved immensely in its second season, so that it ranked no. 34 for the season. Its ratings would rise more in its third season, when it came in at no. 13 for the year. By its fourth season Cheers was one of the most popular shows on the air. It ranked no. 5 that season and would remain in the top ten for the rest of its run.

Over its eleven seasons, Cheers would evolve. The early seasons centred a good deal on the relationship between Sam and Diane, which modelled largely after the relationship between characters played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their movies. Over time Cheers became more of a ensemble show, with more and more episodes centring around Carla, Norm, Cliff, and other characters.

For a show that ran eleven years, Cheers had a surprisingly stable cast, with few of the original actors departing. It was following the third season that Nicholas Colasanto died due to his heart condition. Woody Harrelson was then introduced as Woody Boyd, the bartender who replaced Coach. Woody was a naive and none-too-bright Midwesterner. It was following the fifth season that Shelley Long left Cheers to pursue other projects. Diane was written out of the show as having left Boston. It was with the sixth season that the character of Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley) was introduced. A corporation had bought Cheers from Sam and Rebecca was its new manager. Once Sam regained control of Cheers, Rebecca would remain, first as a waitress and then once more as its manager.

It was during the third season that one major character would be introduced to the show. Originally psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) was a recurring character and a love interest for Diane. In the fourth season Diane dumped Frasier at the altar, after which he became a regular at Cheers. It was with the fifth season that Frasier became part of the main cast.

As successful as Cheers was, it should be no surprise that the show would produce spin-offs. Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya) was Carla's ex-husband and a recurring character on Cheers early in its run. He had married again, this time to Loretta (Jean Kasem). They were eventually spun-off into their own show, The Tortellis. On The Tortellis, Nick and Loretta are now in Las Vegas. The Tortellis would not prove successful, running for only 13 episodes. After the cancellation of The Tortellis the characters would once more appear on Cheers.

While The Tortellis failed, the second spin-off of Cheers, Frasier, was nearly as successful as the original show. Indeed, it also ran for eleven seasons. On Frasier, Frasier Crane had returned to his hometown of Seattle, where he became a local radio host. He moves in with his elderly father (John Mahoney), His younger brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) was also a psychiatrist. Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves) was Frasier's father Martin's live-in caretaker, with whom Niles was in love. Roz Doyle (Peri iGilpin) was the producer of Frasier's radio show. Except for Rebecca, every single remaining character from Cheers would appear on Frasier on one time or another.

While Wings was not a spinoff of Cheers, the two shows seemed to exist in a shared universe. Wings was created by Cheers veterans  David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee. Cliff and Norm as well as Frasier and his wife Lilith appeared in episodes of Wings, while Rebecca had a cameo in yet another episode. St. Elsewhere also appears to exist in the same shared universe. In the St. Elsewhere episode "Cheers," Westphall, Craig, and Auschlander visit Cheers, which is apparently only manned by Carla at the time. As might be expected, Norm and Cliff are there.

After eleven seasons, Ted Danson decided it was time to move onto other things. Rather than continue the show without Sam, the production team then decided to bring the show to an end. Given Cheers had run eleven years and was still a high rated show, NBC then pulled out all the stops for the series finale. A whole night was dedicated to "One for the Road," the final episode of the show. In addition to the episode itself, NBC aired a retrospective of the show. Following the episode the network aired an interview with the cast by Jay Leno. As might be expected, "One for the Road" was very successful in the Nielsen ratings, with  a 64 or 62 share. It is currently the third highest rated series finale after all time, after the M*A*S*H finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" and The Fugitive finale "The Judgement Part 2." It remains the fourth highest episode of an American television, after the M*A*S*H, after the M*A*S*H finale, the Dallas episode "Who Done It," and the Fugitive finale.

As mentioned earlier, Cheers would go onto a highly successful run as a syndicated rerun and can still be found in syndication on local stations and cable channels. All eleven seasons have been released on DVD. The entire run of the show is also available on several streaming services.

Throughout its run Cheers earned 111 Emmy nominations, with 28 wins.

The success of Cheers can largely be chalked up to its characters. Its creators had set out to create a show about a group of co-workers who interact like a family. Ultimately, they created a show about a group of co-workers and their customers who interact as a family. Much like such shows as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show before it, Cheers centred on a close-knit group of friends with who the average person could identify. In many ways the show was summed up by the title of its theme song, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name."

When it came to sitcoms, Cheers was also a bit of a pioneer. It was its third season that Cheers began using serialized storylines, with story arcs that would last through several episodes. It was also with that season that Cheers began using season finale cliffhangers. There had certainly been shows that had used serialized story lines before (The Beverly Hillbillies being one), but Cheers was still among the earliest. As to cliffhangers, very few sitcoms prior to Cheers had ever used them. If many of today's sitcoms are serialized today, it is largely because of the success of Cheers.

Cheers was one of the most successful shows of the Eighties and ultimately one of the most successful shows of all time. It remains widely available, both in syndication and on streaming services. It is one of those very few shows that has maintained its popularity for forty years. It is safe to say it will still be popular in another forty.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Turner Classic Movies Remembers the Hollywood Blacklist This October

It was not long after World War II that the period known as the Second Red Scare began in the United States. It was a time of widespread fear of the infiltration of American society by Communism and other leftist ideologies. It was only a matter of time before right-wing, anti-Communist ideologues turned their eyes towards Hollywood. It was on July 29 1946 that William R. Wilkerson, founder and publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, published a column naming several "Communist sympathizers" in the film industry (among them screenwriters Dalton Trumbo, Howard Koch, and Ring Lardner Jr.). It was in October 1947 that  the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) subpoenaed several figures from the film industry to testify at hearings regarding Communist infiltration of Hollywood. It was the beginning of the Hollywood Blacklist, a blacklist that denied employment to any actors, directors, writers, and other entertainment professionals perceived as being Communists, Communist sympathizers, or just too far to the left. Ultimately the Hollywood Blacklist, as well as the red baiting that occurred throughout the era, was not about punishing actual Communists. Legendary actress Marsha Hunt, who found herself blacklisted, said of the Blacklist, "But then I was told, once I was blacklisted, you see, I was an articulate liberal, and that was bad. I was told that in fact it wasn’t really about communism — that was the thing that frightened everybody — it was about control and about power."

This October Turner Classic Movies is observing the 75th anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist the last three Wednesdays of October (October 13, October 20, and October 27). On October 13 TCM will debut the documentary High Noon on the Waterfront (2022). TCM describes the documentary as, " inventive remembrance of the impact of the Hollywood Blacklist on two American classics, High Noon (1952) and On the Waterfront (1954), rendered as a visually mesmerizing dialogue between Carl Foreman (voiced by Edward Norton) and Elia Kazan (voiced by John Turturro)." Each Wednesday TCM will show the works of those affected by the Hollywood Blacklist as well as movies about the Blacklist, including: High Noon (1952), directed by Carl Foreman; On the Waterfront (1954), directed by Elia Kazan; the documentary Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity (2015); Salt of the Earth (1954), directed by Herbert Biberman; and others.

Below is a schedule the movies TCM is showing in observation of the 75th anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist. All times are Central.

Wednesday, October 13:
7:00 PM High Noon on the Waterfront (2022)
7:30 PM High Noon (1952)
9:00 PM High Noon on the Waterfront (2022)
9:30 PM On the Waterfront (1954)
11:30 PM High Noon on the Waterfront (2022)

Thursday, October 14:
12:00 AM Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity (2015)
2:00 PM Carnegie Hall (1947)

Wednesday, October 20:
7:00 PM Salt of the Earth (1954)
9:00 PM A King in New York (1957)
11:00 PM The Brave One (1956)

Thursday, October 21:
1:00 AM Time Without Pity (1957)
2:30 AM The Boy with Green Hair (1948)

Wednesday, October 27:
7:00 PM The Way We Were (1973)
9:15 The Front (1976)
11:00 PM The Majestic (2001)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film by Luis I. Reyes

Both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, Latinos have been a part of the film industry from the beginning. Unfortunately, representation of Latinos in Hollywood has never been particularly good. Worse yet, often their contributions to the history of American film have gone unrecognized. Even today, representation of Latinos in film and television remains low. According to UCLA's Hollywood Diversity Report from 2021, Latinos only accounted for 7.1% of lead roles and 7,7% of all roles.

Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film by Luis I. Reyes is a comprehensive history of the stars, artists, movies, achievements, and impact of the Latino and Hispanic communities in the history of American film. Luis I. Reyes may be familiar to many classic movie fans as the author of the 1995 book Hispanics in Hollywood and Made in Mexico: Hollywood South of the Border. He has also served as a unit publicist on such films as Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), American Me (1992), and My Family (1995) and the TV movies The Josephine Baker Story and The Cisco Kid. Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film includes a foreword by Jimmy Smits, who has starred in such films as Old Gringo (1989), My Family (1995), and three Stars Wars movies, as well as such TV shows as L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, and The West Wing.

The focus of Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film is on the stars and artists behind the scenes who contributed to Hollywood history. It covers a span from the very beginnings of Hollywood cinema to the present day. As might be expected, it touches upon the major Latino and Hispanic stars in movie history, from such legends as Antonio Moreno and Gilbert Roland during the Silent Era, Lupe Vélez, Cesar Romero, Maria Montez, and Pedro Armendáriz from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and Rita Moreno, Raquel Welch, Raul Julia, and Andy Garcia from later eras. What sets Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film apart from other books is that Luis I. Reyes not only covers famous Latino and Hispanic actors, but also musicians, screenwriters, directors, and other artists. Mr. Reyes has extensive write ups on such legends as pianist José Iturbi, bandleader Xavier Cugat, and director Robert Ramirez. A whole chapter is dedicated to Latino and Hispanics' contributions to some of the greatest films ever made, including sculptor Marcel Delgado and matte painter Mario Larrinaga's contributions to King Kong (1933); Francisco "Chico: Day's contributions as first assistant director to The Ten Commandments (1956); and choreographer Alex Romero's contributions to Jailhouse Rock (1957), among others. Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film mentions a large number of movies important in the history of Latinos in Hollywood, including the "Mexican Spitfire" series, Border Incident (1949), The Ring (1957), Zoot Suit (1981), and Stand and Deliver (1988).

Luis L. Reyes recognizes that films are not made in a vacuum, and as a result he addresses some of the historic events that would have an impact on Latinos and Hispanics in film. He devotes a good deal of space to such history as World War II, the Zoot Suit Riots, the Good Neighbour policy, and  the Chicano Movement. Not only can the reader learn a good deal about the history of Latinos and Hispanics in film, but the over all history of Latinos in the United States since the advent of film.

Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film also happens to be a very attractive book. It has a beautiful red dust jacket featuring Latino and Hispanic screen legends prominently. The interior of the book is also attractive, and features several photos throughout. Amanda Richmond designed both the book's cover and interior, and she is to be commended for a job well done.

Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film is also very easy to read. Luis I. Reyes writes in a concise, yet readable style that allows him to pack a good deal of information in a relatively small space. What is more, he spares no details. Not only will those new to classic film and particularly those new to the history of Latinos and Hispanics in classic films learn some things, but so too will those of us who already know a good deal about Latino and Hispanic film history.

Over the years Turner Classic Movies and Running Press have published many fine volumes on various aspects of film history, and Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film is one of their best. It is an in-depth, comprehensive, and loving look at the history of Latinos and Hispanics in classic American films. It will certainly be a welcome addition to any classic film buff's library.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hammer Horrors on Turner Classic Movies in October 2022

If there is one month that fans of classic horror movies look forward to more than any other, it may well be October. Much of the reason for this is because every October Turner Classic Movies shows a wide swathe of horror classics. And among those horror classics TCM shows each October, one is guaranteed to see several produced by legendary studio Hammer Film Productions Ltd. From The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 to To the Devil a Daughter in 1976, Hammer released several horror movies now considered classics. For my fellow Hammer Films fans, then, here is a schedule of when TCM will be showing the classic Hammer Horrors. All time are Central.

Monday, October 3 2022
11:15 AM The Witches (1966--also known as The Devil's Own)

Monday, October 10 2022
5:00 AM Quatermass and the Pit (1967--also known as Five Million Years to Earth)

Tuesday, October 25 2022
8:00 AM Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1965)
11:30 AM Rasputin the Mad Monk (1966)
3:00 PM Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
4:45 PM The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Monday, October 31 2022
10:30 AM The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
12:30 PM The Mummy (1959)
2:00 PM The Devil Rides Out (1968--also known as The Devil's Bride)
3:45 PM Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
5:30 PM Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Monday, September 26, 2022

The 60th Anniversary of The Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies debuted sixty years ago today, on September 26 1962, on CBS. It proved to be a hit immediately after its debut and has remained popular ever since. After ending its run in 1971, The Beverly Hillbillies went onto a highly successful run in syndication. Over the years it has aired on such cable channels as TBS, Nick at Nite, TV Land, WGN, and The Hallmark Channel. It can still be seen on such outlets MeTV, Circle, Classic Reruns TV, GAC Family, and ZLiving. While most people probably realize that The Beverly Hillbillies has always been a popular show, what many may not realize that it is also one of the most successful TV shows of all time.

The Beverly Hillbillies centred on a hillbilly family who moved from the Ozarks to Beverly Hills after their patriarch, Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), found oil on his land. Although collectively known as "the Clampetts," they were not a traditional nuclear family as usually seen on television at the time. In fact, aside from Jed himself, only his daughter Elly May (Donna Douglas) shared the last name "Clampett." Elly May was a tomboy skilled in hunting, climbing trees, and even wrestling, who loved animals. Moving to Beverly Hills with Jed and Elly May was Jed's mother in law, Granny. Granny's full-name was Daisy Moses and while the rest of the family appear to have come from the Ozarks, Granny came from Tennessee. Granny brewed moonshine, which she claimed was for medicinal purposes, and took great pride in being an M.D. ("Mountain Doctor").  Since Jed, Elly May, and Granny couldn't drive, it was Elly May's cousin Jethro Bodine (Max Baer Jr.) who drove them to Beverly Hills in an ancient truck. Jethro was not very bright, but fancied himself as being intelligent (he was proud of his "sixth grade education"). Pearl Bodine (Bea Benaderat), was Jethro's mother and Jed's cousin, who often came into conflict with Granny. Jed kept his money in the Commerce Bank of Beverly Bills, of which Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) was president. Mr. Drydsale was consumed by his love of money, and would do nearly anything to keep the Clampetts' money in his bank. He even moved the Clampetts next door to him, something that did not sit well with is blueblood wife, Margaret Drysdale (Harriet McGibbon). Mr. Drysdale's secretary, Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) acted as a voice of reason to Mr. Drysdale.  She frequently questioned her boss's schemes and sometimes even defied him if she thought he had gone too far. Even though she was educated at Vassar, Miss Jane (as the Clampetts called her) treated the Clampetts as equals and friends.

The Beverly Hillbillies was the creation of Paul Henning, who was a seasoned veteran of writing situation comedies at the time. He got his start in radio with a script for Fibber McGee and Molly and wound up spending 15 years with the show. He went on to work with The Burns and Allen Show on radio and made the transition with the show when it moved to television. He created The Bob Cummings Show (also known as Love That Bob), which ran for five season and saw success as a syndicated rerun.

Paul Henning not only had considerable experience with sitcoms when he created The Beverly Hillbillies, but he also has some experience with actual mountain folk. He was born and raised in Independence, Missouri. As a Boy Scout he would go on camping trips to the Ozarks where he encountered real life hillbillies. Not only had he met mountain folk in real life, but he also had some experience in writing rural humour. While at the radio station KMBC in Kansas City early in his career, he was both a writer and cast member on Happy Hollow, a show described as "a down-home program featuring traditional music, country humour, and the corn-fed wisdom of 'Uncle Ezra'." With Stanley Shapiro on both The RCA Victor Show and The Dennis Day Show, he created the character of Charley Weaver, a rural character that performer Cliff Arquette adopted for his own. He also wrote two episodes of The Real McCoys, the show that would spark the upsurge in rural comedies during the Sixties.

It was in the early Sixties that Al Simon, an executive at Filmways, approached Paul Henning about writing a pilot for them. Paul Henning drew upon his experiences with hillfolk and his love of rural humour to create what was initially titled The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills. The title was soon changed to The Beverly Hillbillies, which created some problems for the producers. Country musician Zeke Manners had a band called The Beverly Hill Billies in the Thirties that proved to be somewhat popular on radio at the time. Fortunately, the producers and Zeke Manners were able to work out a deal so that the TV show would keep its title The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Beverly Hillbillies was pitched to ABC, the home of earlier hillbilly hit The Real McCoys. ABC turned the show down. Ultimately, CBS picked the show up. Unfortunately, they scheduled it against the popular show Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall on NBC. To make matters worse, CBS gave the new show absolutely no promotion. Filmways then mounted their own promotional campaign.  Filmways produced a series of 20 to 60 second spots that started airing in 85 cities six weeks prior to the debut of the show.

As it turned out, The Beverly Hillbillies proved to be the smash hit of the 1962-1963 season. It debuted to a 28 ratings share, and its ratings simply improved from there.  By only its fourth week on the air, The Beverly Hillbillies became the no. 1 show on network television, with a phenomenal 33.7 ratings share. In the end it became the the first show in the history of television to be no. 1 for the year during its very first season (here I must point out that The $64000 Question was a summer replacement before becoming the no. 1 show for the 1955-1956 season).

The Beverly Hillbillies would remain the no. 1 show on the air in its second season. Indeed, if anything, it became even more successful, actually breaking records in the ratings with several episodes. To this day the January 8 1964 episode "The Giant Jackrabbit" remains the highest rated, half hour episode of a sitcom. What is more, seven other episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies aired in late 1963 and early 1964 remain among the most watched programmes on American television for all time. The Beverly Hillbillies would not maintain such incredibly high ratings for the entirety of its run, but it still did respectably well. Ultimately it spent five of its seasons in the top ten highest rated shows and three in the top twenty. It was only in its final season that it failed to reach the top thirty.

While The Beverly Hillbillies debuted to phenomenal ratings, it also received some of the worst reviews for any show in the history of American television. Rick Du Brow of UPI wrote about the show, "The series aimed low and hit its target."  William K. Sarmento in The Lowell Sun commented that, "...last night’s premiere of The Beverly Hillbillies was an insult to the intelligence of the most moronic viewer," and remarked, "The show is a cross between The Real McCoys and L’il Abner." William K. Sarmento wasn't the only critic to bring up The Real McCoys in a review of The Beverly Hillbillies. Variety wrote the show off as an imitation of The Real McCoys and further wrote that it was "...painful to sit through" and "...improbable and impossible as the characters who people it."  No less than The New York Times called the show "...strained and unfunny."

Although it might have seemed so at the time, not every review of The Beverly Hillbillies was negative. Cynthia Lowry of Associated Press actually liked the show and wrote, " promises to be uninhibited and amusing if the writers remember to add enough branch water to the corn." One individual with much more intellectual clout than any television critic also genuinely liked the show. Cultural critic and writer Gilbert Seldes wrote essays on the show for both the December 15 1962 issue of TV Guide and January 5 1963 issues of The Saturday Review. He pointed out that while  the typical formula for comedy was "real people in unreal situations", the formula for comedy on The Beverly Hillbillies was "unreal people in unreal situations."

For a show that ran nine seasons, The Beverly Hillbillies saw very little change in its cast over the years. The core characters of Jed, Granny, Elly Mae, Jethro, Mr. Drysdale, and Jane Hathaway all remained with the show for the entirety of its run. The second season of the show would see one major change in its cast. During its first season Jed's cousin Pearl Bodine was a recurring character on The Beverly Hillbillies. The Beverly Hillbillies producer and creator Paul Henning had known Bea Benaderet since their days on radio working on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (on which she played George and Gracie's neighbour Blanche Morton). He had long admired her as a comedic talent and thought that after years of playing supporting roles it was time for her to be a lead in a situation comedy. He then created the sitcom Petticoat Junction as a vehicle for Bea Benaderet. After last appearing in the first season episode, "The Psychiatrist Gets Clampetted," Pearl made one last appearance on the show in the sixth season episode "Greetings from the President" in 1967.

While the central cast of The Beverly Hillbillies would remain intact for its whole run, various recurring characters would come and go. John Brewster (Frank Wilcox), the executive of O.K. Oil Company (the company that bought the rights to the oil on Jed's land ) was a recurring character for the show's first five seasons. Elverna Bradshaw (Elvia Allman), Granny's rival from the hills, was a recurring character on the show from its first season to its eighth season. John Cushing (Roy Roberts), the president of the Commerce Bank's rival Merchants Bank, who was always trying to lure the Clampetts away to his institution, appeared on the show as a recurring character from its third to its sixth season. Dash Riprock, a handsome actor who started out as one of Elly May's suitors and became friends with the Clampetts, appeared from the show's third season to its seventh season. Dr. Roy Clyburn (Fred Clark) was Mr. Drysdale's doctor who was always trying to keep Granny from practising her mountain medicine. He was a recurring character from the show's second season to its fifth season. Late in the show's run famed character actor Percy Helton played Homer Cratchit, a bank clerk at Commerce Bank who had worked under Mr. Drysdale's father. Daneille Mardi played the recurring role of British Commerce Bank secretary Helen Thompson.

It would be another actress who played a secretary at Commerce Bank who might well be the most famous person to have a recurring role on The Beverly Hillbillies. Sharon Tate had been signed to a seven year contract with Filmways by its president Martin Rashonoff in 1963. Considered for the role of Billie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction, Mr. Rashonoff thought she needed more confidence and cast her in a guest appearance on the Filmways show Mister Ed and then in the role of secretary Janet Trego on The Beverly Hillbillies. Sharon Tate first appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies in the show's second season, playing a student named Mary at a school Elly May was attending. She first appeared as Janet Trego in the second season episode "Jethro's First Love." She continued to appear as Janet Trego until the show's fourth season. By that point her movie career was beginning and she no longer appeared on the show. It is to be noted that the naturally blonde Sharon Tate played Janet in a brunette wig.

One of the most unusual recurring characters to appear on The Beverly Hillbillies was Jethro's twin sister Jethrine. Jethrine was played by Max Baer Jr. in drag. While many people probably assume Max Baer Jr. played Jethrine using a falsetto voice, in reality her voice was provided by Paul Henning's daughter Linda Kaye. Linda Kaye later played Betty Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction. Jethrine appeared in several episodes of the first season and made her last appearance in the second season episode "Christmas with the Clampetts."

There were many more recurring characters on The Beverly Hillbillies than I have listed here. Some would appear for several seasons, others for only one story arc. Of course, this was one of the ways in which The Beverly Hillbillies differed from other sitcoms of its day or sitcoms before it. Other sitcoms of the Sixties were episodic, with their plots neatly wrapped up  in one episode. The Beverly Hillbillies featured story arcs that would unfold over multiple episodes. Among the story arcs on The Beverly Hillbillies were the Clampetts inheriting a castle in England; Jethro playing Robin Hood in Griffith Park and leading a band of hippies as his "Merry Men;" Jethro opening his own talent agency on the fifth floor of the Commerce Bank building; and yet others. The Beverly Hillbillies was hardly serialized the way modern TV shows are, but it did utilize plots that would unfold over several episodes. This made it a pioneer in television, particularly with regards to sitcoms.

Another way in which The Beverly Hillbillies differed from earlier sitcoms is that on many of the domestic comedies episodes would revolve around a crisis that were neatly resolved in a half hour, often with some sort of moral to the story. On The Beverly Hillbillies often various crises would not be resolved at the end of an episode, and there was generally no moral to the story. Quite simply, on The Beverly Hillbillies the emphasis was on comedy, with no real concern to resolving the personal problems of the characters in any given episode. As Gilbert Seldes pointed out, the formula for comedy on The Beverly Hillbillies was "unreal people in unreal situations."

One more way that The Beverly Hillbillies differed from many sitcoms is that it existed in a shared universe with Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. While the Warner Bros. Westerns and detective shows of the late Fifties and early Sixties existed in a shared universe, this was something that had not been seen in sitcoms before. Hooterville, the small town that served as the setting for both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, was first referenced in in the sixth episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, "Trick or Treat." It was during the show's seventh season that the Clampetts, as well as Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane, actually visited Hooterville, spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas there. Afterwards Frank Cady would make a few guest appearances as Sam Drucker from Petitcoat Junction and Green Acres on The Beverly Hillbillies.  "The Clampett-Hewes Empire", that aired in the 1970-1971 season, would be the last crossover episode between The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Of course, since then there have been other sitcoms that have existed in shared universes (Cheers Wings, The Tortellis, and Frasier being an example).

For the most part The Beverly Hillbillies concentrated on its central cast and recurring characters rather than frequently featuring guest stars, although over the years several big names appeared on the show. Blue grass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs would guest star as themselves in a few episodes. The two of them had written the show's theme song, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." Their fictional wives on the show were played by Joi Lansing (who played Lester Flatt's wife) and Midge Ware (who played Earl Scrugg's wife). Perhaps the biggest name to appear on the show was John Wayne, who had a cameo in the fifth season episode "The Indians Are Coming." Gloria Swanson was another big name to appear on The Beverly Hillbillies, playing herself in the fifth season episode "The Gloria Swanson Story."  Julie Newmar guest starred in the fourth season episode "The Beautiful Maid," playing an actress Mr. Drysdale installed as a maid in the Clampett household so she can learn their backwoods dialect for a role (the episode aired on March 30 1966, only two weeks after she had made her debut as Catwoman on Batman). Ted Cassidy guest starred on the fifth season episode "The Dahlia Feud" as Mr. Ted, Mrs. Drysdale's nearly invulnerable gardener (even Granny's shotgun didn't phase him). Phil Silvers played shifty conman "Honest John" in the eighth season episodes "Jed Buys Central Park" and "The Clampetts in New York." Among other things, he "sold" Jed Central Park. It was in the following episode that what might have been the biggest name besides John Wayne appeared. In "Manhattan Hillbillies" Sammy Davis Jr. played a New York City police officer. Sammy Davis Jr. was friends with Dick Wesson, who wrote several episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies from its first season to its last.

Another famous face appeared in the pilot of The Beverly Hillbillies. Robert Osborne, the film historian who worked for The Hollywood Reporter and gained everlasting fame as the first host of Turner Classic Movies, had at one time been an actor. In the pilot for The Beverly Hillbillies Robert Osborne played Mr. Drysdale's young assistant, Jeff Taylor. He was offered a regular role on the show, but turned it down thinking that the pilot would never sell.

As might be expected of a show that became a smash it nearly upon its debut, there was some Beverly Hillbillies merchandise on the shelves in the Sixties. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs released "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" as a single and it went to no. 1 on the Billboard Country chart and no. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1963 a soundtrack album for the TV series was released, with the cast performing in character. In 1966 Irene Ryan released a single as Granny entitled "Granny's Mini-skirt." Standard Toycraft put out a Beverly Hillbillies board game, while Milton Bradley put out a Beverly Hillbillies card game. Aladdin manufactured a Beverly Hillbillies lunchbox with a Thermos. In 1963 Ben Cooper released Halloween costumes based on The Beverly Hillbillies Later, in the late Sixties and early Seventies, Halco would put out their own Halloween costumes based on the show. Dell Comics published several issues of a Beverly Hillbillies comic book from 1963 to 1971.

As mentioned earlier, The Beverly Hillbillies did very well in the ratings. It ranked no. 1 for the year in its first two seasons, and spent five years in the top ten and another three in the top twenty. It was only with its ninth and final season that it failed to make the top thirty of the Nielsen ratings for the year. Much of the reason the show might have fallen in the ratings may have been the fact that CBS moved it from its long time Wednesday time slot to a new time slot on Tuesday. There it faced strong competition from The Mod Squad. While the ratings for The Beverly Hillbillies had dropped, they were still high enough that any other season it might have been renewed. Unfortunately, the 1970-1971 season was the year of the Rural Purge.

As early as 1967 CBS was concerned about its ageing and largely rural audience. At the time it was reported that CBS wanted to redo its schedule to better compete with NBC for the younger, 18-49 year old demographic desired by Madison Avenue. It was in 1969 that Robert D. Wood became president of CBS. He was concerned with both the network's falling ratings (although it was still no. 1 each season) and concerned that it was not attracting younger viewers. It was in June 1970 he appointed Fred Silverman as Vice President, Programs, essentially the head of CBS's programming department. It would be Fred Silverman who hit upon improving the network's fortunes by cancelling nearly every single show that appealed to an older, rural audience at once.

Of course, much of the impetus for the Rural Purge was not simply making CBS better able to compete with NBC for younger viewers, but also the fact that the Prime Time Access Rule was going into effect at the start of the 1971-1972 season. The Prime Time Access Rule cut several hours from the networks' prime time schedules each week. The FCC had enacted the Prime Time Access Rule out of concerns over the amount of control the networks exerted over the production and distribution of television shows. The FCC hoped that the rule would create more diverse programming on local stations by letting them air different sorts of shows in time slots that once belonged the networks. Regardless, because of the Prime Time Access Rule, the networks had to cancel many more TV shows than they ever had before. In the case of CBS, the network used it as a chance to get rid of shows that appealed to rural audiences and older audiences in hopes of attracting younger viewers.

It was with its ninth season that The Beverly Hillbillies was cancelled, although it might well have been renewed any other season. Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D., and the variety show Hee Haw were also cancelled. The latter two shows ranked in the top twenty for the year, making them among the highest rated shows ever cancelled. The Beverly Hillbillies had been the smash hit of the 1962-1963 season. It ended its run cancelled en masse with several other shows.

The Beverly Hillbillies was gone, but hardly forgotten. From  the late Seventies into the Eighties, TV reunion movies were popular on American broadcast television. With the continued popularity of The Beverly Hillbillies it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a TV reunion movie. That TV movie, Return of The Beverly Hillbillies, aired on October 6 1981. Irene Ryan had died in 1973 and Raymond Bailey in 1980, so Granny and Mr. Drysdale were noticeably absent from the reunion movie. Max Baer Jr., who had been typecast as Jethro, did not want to return for the reunion movie and so Ray Young played the role. While The Beverly Hillbillies had become much more highly regarded than it had upon its debut, Return of the Beverly Hillbillies received bad reviews from critics and received mediocre ratings. Even fans were not too happy with the TV reunion movie.

In 1993 CBS aired a retrospective of The Beverly Hillbillies, The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies. Buddy Epsen, Donna Douglas, and Max Baer Jr. reunited for the special. The special proved successful, ranking fourth in the Nielsen ratings for the week. Interestingly enough, The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies treated the 1981 TV reunion movie as if it has never happened.

That same year a feature film based on the TV show was released. The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) starred Jim Varney as Jed, Cloris Leachman as Granny, Erika Eliniak as Elly Mae, Dabney Coleman as Mr. Drysdale, and Lily Tomlin as Jane Hathway. The movie was released to abysmal reviews. It also did poorly at the box office. Perhaps audiences did not appreciate a beloved sitcom being resurrected as a film with 1990s humour, some of which could be considered offensive (it is inconceivable that the Clampetts, or any real residents of the Ozarks, would eat "roadkill stew").

Today The Beverly Hillbillies can still be seen on various television outlets and is available on streaming services. The show that many critics in 1962 thought was insulting to the intelligence of audiences is now regarded as a classic. Quite simply, many critics in 1962 did not seem to grasp that The Beverly Hillbillies was different from anything before it. As mentioned earlier, it threw the standard, domestic comedy format of episodes whereby crises would be neatly resolved in a half hour out the window. Not only were situations in many episodes left unresolved at the end, but the comedy in The Beverly Hillbillies was often so broad that it could be considered absurdist. The show certainly had no pretence towards realism.

Beyond the fact that the comedy of The Beverly Hillbillies was extremely broad, it also differed from its contemporaries (not to mention earlier sitcoms) in that it acted as a social satire. The honest, hard working Clampetts were often contrasted with the often hypocritical city folk of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. While the show served as an attack on the upper class of Beverly Hills, it also acknowledged the changes in society throughout the Sixties. Over its seasons it spoofed Hollywood, beatniks, dance crazes, the spy craze, the counterculture (to which it was somewhat sympathetic), the student movement, feminism, environmentalism, jogging, and the growing interest in Eastern religions. While The Beverly Hillbillies never addressed the Vietnam War or the anti-war movement, it did acknowledge that the world around the Clampetts was changing, which was more than many of the sitcoms of the era did.

The Beverly Hillbillies' influence would be seen in future "fish out of the water" comedies, including sister show Green Acres, Newhart, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Nanny, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Derided by critics upon its debut, it became phenomenally successful with episodes still ranking among the most watched of all time. While it never reached those heights of success ever since, it remains popular to this day and still maintains a large and faithful following.