Max Baer Jr. gained widespread recognition as Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies; nevertheless, what became of this legendary character after the program ended?
This is 84-year-old Max Baer Jr.
Comedic performance The Beverly Hillbillies narrated the tale of the Clampett family, with Buddy Ebsen’s character Jed Clampett rapidly amassing money.
Jethro Bodine – Max Baer Jr.
The streetwise Among the numerous well-known characters that Jed brought with him was one who really stood out from the Clampett family clan.
In the film, Max Baer Jr. portrayed Jethro Bodine, the innocent and rather dim-witted son of Jed’s cousin Pearl, who demonstrated his superior math prowess by multiplying five gozinta five one time, five gozinta ten two times.
When The Beverly Hillbillies debuted in 1962, it became an immediate hit. Within the first three weeks of its premiere, it became the highest rated television program in history, according to IMDB.
The show was a hit with viewers on television. Before being canceled in 1971, it ran for 11 years, accumulating a total of 9 seasons and 274 episodes.
In 1964, The Beverly Hillbillies received four Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Show Comedy.
Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies
Regarding Max’s persona, he exuded a silly, grin that stretched across his entire year, his laugh made people laugh too, and most importantly, he convinced everyone that his character, Jethro Bodine, was real.
Max had listened to albums by Andy Griffith and Jonathan Winters to hone his backwoods dialect. He was able to combine this with keeping a perpetually goofy expression on his face, which clearly made fans giggle.
As the rural bumpkin Jethro, Max Baer Jr. was a true American comedic icon. Furthermore, Max’s major breakthrough was made possible by the show.
Regretfully, his life didn’t go as planned after the show. This is the tale of the guy who created Jethro Bodine, a figure that Hollywood refused to let go of.
On December 4, 1937, in Oakland, California, Max Baer Jr. was born. He is the son of Mary Ellen Sullivan, the wife of the late boxer Max Baer.
Baer Jr. would not enter the acting profession for a very long time. In 1949, he made his stage debut in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which was presented at the Blackpool Pavilion in England. Subsequently, he discovered that landing the role of a lifetime in The Beverly Hillbillies was really just the result of a tremendous deal of luck, confidence, and happenstance.
Raised in Sacramento, Baer Jr. later relocated to Santa Clara for his academic career. After graduating from Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1959, he would find himself in a Los Angeles parking lot less than a year later.
The year after graduating, Max Baer Jr. made the decision to ride his Harley to Los Angeles, according to a 1999 People Magazine article. When he finally arrived to the Warner Bros. lot, an executive noticed that he resembled James Garner.
After being found, Baer Jr. made the decision to try his hand at acting. Before he knew anything about acting, he had signed his first one-year contract. Rather, he simply reasoned that he might as well try.
He appeared in television shows like Hawaiian Eye, Maverick, and 77 Sunset Strip, scoring tiny roles and cameos.
He made the decision to stay even though his career wasn’t taking off, and soon after, he landed the best job of his life: a sitcom about a country bumpkin family who becomes wealthy from oil.
Career of Max Baer Jr.
He was cast as Jethro Bodine in The Beverly Hillbillies after an open casting call; he received $1000 for the pilot and $500 for the second episode.
It’s difficult to be objective or subjective about oneself when playing a part like Jethro, so that’s why other people get to assess you, Baer Jr. said on Medium.
“You simply attempt to offer as much as you can [with your performance] after doing the best you can with the material that you’re given. However, the audience gets the last word in the matter. “Well, we approve of what you did,” or “We disapprove of what you did.” Furthermore, there isn’t really any other way for you to assess it.
The show was a big hit at this point. Although Baer never made more than $800 a show, the American TV audience had a very particular place in their hearts for him.
Above all, Max Baer Jr. understood he was making people laugh, and that was a good thing.
“You must provide your best effort. In my situation, it’s acceptable if I’ve made people laugh, even if they are laughing at my expense. “I don’t give a damn,” Baer Jr. They are free to laugh at me or with me. As long as people laugh, that’s all that matters. Because I consider my performance to have been effective if I can get them to laugh. I am unable to assess the level of success that it was. However, I can state that it accomplished its intended goal.
A full-length version of the iconic TV series, starring Dolly Parton among others, debuted in 1993. Regretfully, it didn’t exactly succeed to the same extent. Honestly, how could it be that Jethro was now played by someone else?
Commendation as Jethro Bodine
On Beverly Hillbillies, renowned actress Donna Douglas portrayed the glamorous Elly May Clampett.
In a 2013 speech, she gave Max Baer Jr. high marks for playing Jethro, even if he wasn’t the most brilliant person in the bulb box.
According to the book Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: TV’s Top Male Icons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, she remarked, “Max Baer did well as Jethro because he didn’t come across as so dumb that you didn’t like him.”
He still treats me poorly, just as he did back then. But we were all akin to one another. Max is free to voice his dissatisfaction with any of us (for any cause), but please refrain from allowing anyone else to speak poorly of any of us. Max would definitely give that person the runaround. He would protect us in the same manner as a true family member.
2015 saw the 82-year-old Donna Douglas pass away, leaving Baer Jr. as the sole remaining cast member of the program.
Jeffrey D. Dalrymple, a TV historian and Baer Jr.’s close friend, concurs.
“They played it so well that you thought Uncle Jed, Granny, and cousin Elly May were his family,” he adds. Additionally, Max was able to fit in with the ensemble without exaggerating or underplaying Jethro. He was, and still is, a decent guy and an actor.
In addition to becoming a well-known star on The Beverly Hillbillies, Baer Jr. shared his father’s passion for athletics as a professional boxer.
Max Bear used to earn a living by going around the town and gathering trash from eateries. He worked seven nights a week for 35 cents a night.
In addition, the father made money from boxing contests; Max Baer requested additional fights during the Great Depression.
Frankie Campbell was killed by a devastating punch delivered by Max Baer during a fight in 1930. Max Baer was devastated by the terrible incident and was never the same after. His reputation took a hit, and he had to serve time in jail.
“All he wanted was the money.” Max Baer Jr. stated, “He never loved boxing,” and added:
“They transformed a kind-hearted, joyful, amiable, and pleasant person who detested boxing into Mr. T from Rocky III, lacking any redeeming qualities.”
Regretfully, Max Baer, the father of Baer Jr., died in 1959 at the age of 50.
Baer Jr. wasn’t much of a boxer, but he was a professional golfer who competed in multiple California competitions.
Baer Jr. received letter awards in basketball, baseball, football, and golf while he was a student at Sacramento, California’s Christian Brothers High School. Furthermore, he secured the title of Sacramento Junior Open Golf Championship for two consecutive years. He went on to finish second in the men’s competition.
Max Baer Jr. won the pro-am division of the Andy Williams Golf Classic in San Diego in 1968 when he partnered with professional golfer Charlie Sifford.
But for me, acting is really just a hobby, Baer stated in a 1971 interview with The Times. “I work as a golfer.”
Following the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies, Baer Jr.’s offer pool was somewhat small.
A challenge was that, to the producers, he was merely Jethro, not Baer. He was able to secure cameos on a number of television programs, including Murder, She Wrote, Fantasy Island, and Love.
Rather than pursuing several side projects and TV series, he chose to follow his own route and become a producer and director. Even though they weren’t intended for the Academy Awards, he sure did put food on the table.
Bear Jr. found himself directing and producing two films: Macon County Line (1974), a small-town psycho cop drama, and Ode to Billie Joe (1974).
The reported cost of making the film was $225,000. But it turned out to be more successful than anyone could have predicted. According to IMDB, it made over $30 million worldwide and $18.8 million in North America, making it the most profitable independent picture of 1974.
The 1975 follow-up Return to Macon County was also influenced by it.
Max Baer Jr. amassed enormous wealth from his own films. And it quickly helped the writer, producer, and actor launch his own business.
He nonetheless carried on the Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies tradition. For this reason, he chose to buy the rights to The Beverly Hillbillies moniker from CBS in 1991.
Baer Jr, now 84 years of age, had plans of using the show’s theme and characters for casinos, theme parks, restaurants and cosmetics. The themed casino and theme park were supposed to be built on 24 acres of land he owns in Carson Valley, Nevada.
More than 200 rooms, 1,000 slot machines and animatronic figures of the cast were planned for the resort.
However, Baer Jr’s been through several lawsuits regarding his projects and nothing really came out of his dream of making a blockbuster franchise of the popular TV series.
There were rumors in 2014 that Baer had sued CBS. He asserted that the network had struck a covert agreement with Jethro’s Barbeque, located in Des Moines. The actor said that it hindered his ability to get paid for his part in the renowned television series.
Des Moines company owners, however, were certain that it wouldn’t have an impact on their operations.
Max Baer Jr. is a former married man. He got married to Joanne Kathleen Hill in 1966. In 1971, they got divorced.
He dated 30-year-old Californian model Chere Rhodes after going through a number of romances. Their romance lasted until January 2008, when a tragic event occurred in Carson City, Nevada. Chere was shot in the chest, and the cause of death was determined to be suicide after a police inquiry.
Baer Jr. talked about the incident three months after her death, saying he was terrified to find her and that there was blood all over the place.
In addition, the well-known actor stated that he was given a paraffin test by the police “to make sure I didn’t shoot her.”
Max Baer Jr. had to struggle to become well-known in Hollywood. He made a comment about his future in 1963 that aptly captured the struggles he faced in the years that followed.
“Our Baers never turned out just as we had intended. Despite his desire to become a prize boxer, my grandfather ended up becoming a butcher. According to Closer, Baer claimed that he had once won a championship for butchering. “As everyone is aware, Dad turned into a boxer despite his aspirations to become an actor. I am an actor, but my dream was to become a lawyer. My career has benefited greatly from the show. My future employment prospects will also be enhanced by the exposure. And eventually, I want to show that I’m more than just a hillbilly player.
Max Baer Jr. will always be remembered as a fantastic performer who made us laugh in almost every Beverly Hillbillies episode, regardless of what happened before or after the program.
We can surely state that he will always hold a particular place in our hearts.
Please tell your friends and family about this tale!