Max Baer Jr. is most commonly known as Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies, but whatever happened to this legend after the show?
This is Max Baer Jr today, age 84.
Max Baer Jr – Jethro Bodine
Comedy show The Beverly Hillbillies followed the story of the Clampett family, with Jed Clampett, played by Buddy Ebsen, who found himself accumulating wealth extremely fast.
The street-smart Jed brought his Clampett family clan with him, and among the many popular characters was one that stood out.
Max Baer Jr played the role of Jethro Bodine, the son of Jed’s cousin, Pearl, a naive and borderline dim-witted man who showed off his great math skills with his multiplication classic “five gozinta five one times, five gozinta ten two times.”
The Beverly Hillbillies was an instant success when it aired in 1962. It rose to the No. 1 spot quicker than any other show in television history within the first three weeks after its debut, according to IMDB.
Television audiences loved the show. It ran for 11 years, amassing a total of nine seasons and 274 episodes, before being cancelled in 1971
The Beverly Hillbillies was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show Comedy in 1964, in addition to four Emmy nominations.
As for Max’s character, he had a goofy year-to-ear grin, his laugh made everyone else laugh, and, above all else, he made everyone believe his character Jethro Bodine was real.
Max had practiced his backwood accent by listing to Andy Griffith and Jonathan Winters records. He was able to couple this with maintaining a constantly stupid look on his face, which obviously had fans laughing.
Max Baer Jr was truly an American comedy icon while portraying the country bumpkin Jethro. Not only that, but the show gave Max his big breakthrough.
Sadly, his life after the show didn’t turn out as many would’ve thought. This is the story of the man behind Jethro Bodine – a character people in Hollywood never wanted to let go of.
Max Baer Jr was born Dec 4, 1937 in Oakland, California. He is the son of legendary boxer Max Baer and his wife Mary Ellen Sullivan.
It would be a long time before Baer Jr went into acting. His first acting role was in a stage production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Blackpool Pavilion in England in 1949. Later, it was actually just a mixture of coincidence, luck and a great self-confidence that landed him the role of a lifetime in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Baer Jr was raised in Sacramento and later moved to Santa Clara to study. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Santa Clara University in 1959, but only a year later, he would find himself standing in a parking lot in Los Angeles.
According to a 1999 article in People Magazine, Max Baer Jr decided to ride his motorcycle to Los Angeles the year after graduation. He ended up in the Warner Bros. lot, where an executive thought he looked like James Garner.
Baer Jr was discovered, and he decided to give acting a chance. Soon, he had signed his first one-year contract, despite knowing anything about acting. Instead, he just thought he might as well should go for it.
He scored small parts and guest roles in television, appearing in series such as 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick and Hawaiian Eye.
Even though his career wasn’t skyrocketing, he decided to stay, and soon he found himself the greatest gig he would ever land: a sitcom about a country bumpkin family getting rich off oil.
Following an open audition, he scored the role as Jethro Bodine in The Beverly Hillbillies, earning $1000 for the pilot and $500 the following show.