Though he is best known for being Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies, what became of this legendary character after the show ended?
At the age of eighty-four, this is Max Baer Jr.
A comedy show The Beverly Hillbillies followed the story of the Clampett family, with Buddy Ebsen’s Jed Clampett amassing wealth at a startling rate.
Jed decided to move to Beverly Hills, California, after becoming an overnight fortune. When does the plot take a turn? The family continued to live in the country.
The streetwise one of the many well-known figures who Jed brought along with him was from the Clampett family.
Jethro Bodine, the son of Jed’s cousin, Pearl, was played by Max Baer Jr, a naive and borderline dimwitted man who demonstrated his excellent arithmetic skills with his multiplication classic “five gozinta five one times, five gozinta ten two times.”
The Beverly Hillbillies’ initial 1962 broadcast was a smashing success. Within the first three weeks of its debut, the show, according to IMDB, rose to the top spot faster than any other program in television history.
Television audiences loved the program. Until being cancelled in 1971, it ran for 11 years, spanning nine seasons and 274 episodes.
Four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Comedy were given to The Beverly Hillbillies in 1964.
Max, on the other hand, had a ridiculous, year-round grin. More significantly, he made everyone believe that his character, Jethro Bodine, was actually real with his chuckle, which caused everyone else to laugh.
By listening to recordings of Andy Griffith and Jonathan Winters, Max developed his southern drawl. He was able to accomplish this while retaining a continually amusing expression on his face.
Max Baer Jr. rose to fame as an American comedian by portraying the shabby-chic Jethro. Also, the program gave Max his big break.
Sadly, things in his life did not turn out as he had hoped after the show. The man who created the iconic Jethro Bodine figure is the subject of this narrative.
On December 4, 1937, Max Baer Jr. was born in Oakland, California. He is the child of Mary Ellen Sullivan and boxing great Max Baer.
Baer Jr. would take a very long time to break into the acting industry. In the Blackpool Pavilion in England, he made an appearance in a theater production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in 1949.
In the end, a mix of chance, good fortune, and a lot of self-assurance helped him land a lifetime role in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Before relocating to Santa Clara for school, Baer Jr. was raised in Sacramento. He earned a Bachelor of Business Management from Santa Clara University in 1959, but a year later he found himself in a parking lot in Los Angeles.
The year after graduating, Max Baer Jr. made the decision to travel to Los Angeles by motorcycle. On the Warner Bros. set, he injured himself, and a manager recognized him as James Garner.
Baer Jr. wanted to try acting after being discovered. He signed his first one-year contract right away, despite having no experience in acting. Instead, he decided it was better to just go for it.
On television series like 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, and Hawaiian Eye, he had small roles and cameos.
He made the decision to stay even though his career wasn’t taking off, and soon he was working at the best job he had ever had: a sitcom about a rural family who become wealthy through oil.
After an open audition, he landed the role of Jethro Bodine in The Beverly Hillbillies, receiving $1000 for the pilot and $500 for the following show.
“It’s extremely difficult to be subjective or objective about yourself when you play a part like Jethro,” Baer Jr told Medium.
“You simply do the best you can with the material you’re given, and then you attempt to contribute to it [with your performance] as much as possible.
The audience, however, ultimately has the last word. Either we approved or disapproved of what you did. Also, you lack a different way of evaluation.
At this time, the show enjoyed great success. Baer never earned more than $800 per episode, although he was particularly beloved by American television viewers.
Max Baer Jr. believed he was succeeding and, more significantly, making people laugh.
“You must perform well. And, in my situation, it’s fine if I’ve made people laugh, even if it’s at my expense. “I don’t care,” remarked Baer Jr. “They can laugh with or at me. It makes no difference as long as they laugh.
So I’ll consider my performance a success if I can get them to chuckle. I have no idea how successful it was. Yet, I can claim that it succeeded in its objectives.
In 1993, a full-length replica of the venerable television program starring Dolly Parton appeared. Unfortunately, it did not achieve the same level of success. Since they chose someone else to play Jethro, it’s very difficult to believe.
She praised Jethro in 2013, even though he wasn’t really the brightest bulb in the box, for his superb performance by Max Baer Jr.
“Max Baer did well as Jethro because he didn’t come across as so stupid that you didn’t like him,” she remarked in the book Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: TV’s Greatest Male Legends from the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies.
“He was and still is difficult to deal with. Yet we were all like a family. Max could complain about any of us (for whatever cause), but he must not allow anyone else to say anything about us. Max would never let that person take it. He’d defend us as though we were a real family.”
Donna Douglas passed away in 2015 at the age of 82, leaving only Baer Jr. as a cast member still alive.
TV historian Jeffrey D. Dalrymple, a friend of Baer Jr., concurs.
“You thought Uncle Jed, Granny, and cousin Elly May were his family because they were so good at it,” he adds. “And Max could mix in with the other cast members without overplaying or underplaying Jethro. He was and still is a good performer and a decent guy.”
Baer Jr., like his boxing-playing father, had a passion for athletics in addition to being a well-known star of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Max Bear used to support himself by ambling around town and robbing eateries of their trash. He worked seven nights a week and made 35 cents each night.
Another source of revenue for the father was boxing matches; during the Great Depression, Max Baer wanted more fights.
In a 1930 battle, Max Baer struck Frankie Campbell in the head with a fatal blow. Max Baer was horrified by the horrific event, and he was never the same after it. He had to serve some time in jail, which damaged his reputation.
“He was only interested in the money. “He never liked boxing,” Max Baer Jr. claimed, adding:
“They transformed a good-hearted, fun-loving, pleasant, and warm human being who despised boxing into Mr. T from Rocky III with no redeeming qualities.”
Tragically, Max Baer Srfather .’s passed away in 1959 at the age of 50.
Baer Jr. played professional golf and participated in several California tournaments, despite not being a boxer.
In basketball, baseball, football, golf, and other sports while a student at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California, Baer Jr. received letters.
He also won the Sacramento Junior Open Golf Tournament a second time. In the end, he finished second in the men’s competition.
A professional golfer named Charlie Sifford and Max Baer Jr. won the pro-am division of the Andy Williams Golf Tournament in San Diego in 1968.
“Acting, on the other hand, is just a hobby for me,” Baer told The Times in 1971. “Golf is my profession.”
Following the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies, Baer Jr was left with few options.
One issue was that the producers only saw him as Jethro, not Baer. He appeared as a guest on various shows, including Love, Fantasy Island, and Murder, She Wrote.
Instead of working on many little films and TV series, he decided to strike out on his own, producing and directing. They may not have been Academy Award-worthy films, but he sure put food on the table.
Bear Jr. produced and directed two films, Ode to Billie Joe and Macon County Line, about small-town cops (1974).
According to reports, the film cost $225,000 to make. Nonetheless, it was a bigger success than anyone could have predicted. According to IMDB, it was the most profitable indie film of 1974, with $18.8 million in North America and more than $30 million globally.
It also inspired the sequel Return to Macon County (1975).
Max Baer Jr amassed a fortune from his films. And it quickly inspired the actor, writer, and producer to start his firm.
His Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies legend was still intact. That’s why, in 1991, he chose to buy the Beverly Hillbillies moniker from CBS.
Baer Jr, now 84, intended to use the show’s premise and characters in casinos, amusement parks, restaurants, and cosmetics. The themed casino and amusement park were to be erected on 24 acres of his land in Carson Valley, Nevada.
The resort was to include over 200 rooms, 1,000 slot machines, and animatronic figures of the performers.
Nevertheless, Baer Jr. has been involved in various disputes relating to his projects. Nothing has come of his desire to create a blockbuster franchise based on the successful TV series.
According to reports, Baer sued CBS in 2014. He said that the network has a covert agreement with Des Moines’ Jethro’s Barbeque. The actor said that it affected his capacity to profit financially from his participation in the well-known television program.
The owners in Des Moines, though, were confident that it would not have an effect on their company.
The first marriage of Max Baer Jr. He wed Joanne Kathleen Hill in 1966. They got a divorce in 1971.
He dated California model Chere Rhodes, 30, after a succession of relationships. They were still in love until a tragedy struck Carson City, Nevada, in January 2008. Chere was shot in the chest, and following an inquiry, officials determined that he committed suicide.
Three months after her passing, Baer Jr. came clean about the incident, admitting that there was blood all everywhere and that he was startled to see her.
According to the well-known actor, police allegedly tested his paraffin “to make sure I didn’t shoot her.”
Max Baer Jr. had to struggle to gain attention in Hollywood. In 1963, he made a comment regarding his future, and that statement perfectly captured what he experienced in the years that followed.
“We Baers never turned out the way we had intended. My grandfather always wanted to be a prize boxer but worked as a butcher. “He did win a butchering championship once,” Baer told Closer.
“Dad had planned to become an actress, and, as everyone knows, he became a boxer. I intended to be a lawyer, and now I’m an actor. My career has benefited greatly from the show.”
“The exposure will also help me get work in the future. And I aspire to prove someday that I can play something other than a hillbilly.”
Whatever transpired prior to or following the program, Max Baer Jr. will always be remembered as a terrific actor who brought a smile to our faces in nearly every episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.
It’s reasonable to say that he will always hold a particular place in our hearts.
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