Jethro says Granny paid her dues |

Jethro says Granny paid her dues

The Beverly Hillbillies first hit the air on Sept. 26, 1962, and within four weeks it had become the No. 1 show in the nation – the fastest rise to the top in television history. It went off the air in 1971, but is still syndicated in six countries. According to the A.C. Neilsen ratings company, eight of the show’s episodes were among the top 20 highest-rated shows of all time.

Max Baer Jr., who played Jethro Bodine, recalls his beginnings on the show, in particular his friendship with the late Irene Ryan, who played Granny.

“Everybody loved Granny,” Baer said. “She only weighed about 90 pounds, and she seemed even lighter than that. I would pick her up and carry her like a suitcase.

“During the first year of the show, we appeared in Abilene, Texas, to do a personal appearance. I was making $500 a show then, and these people were offering $1,000 for just one day. It was unbelievable to me. There were so many people at the airport to greet us, that the police had to be called in. People were yelling “Touch my baby! Touch my baby!” Not too long before that I had been collecting $50 unemployment insurance checks; the Beverly Hillbillies was my first real job.

“But for Irene, success had come late in life. She had knocked around in show business for a long time, sometimes surviving paycheck-to-paycheck. So when we saw all those screaming people at the airport, she leaned to me and said, “Jethro, don’t say a thing. I’ve waited 50 years for this.”

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