‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ 50th anniversary: What happened to the cast?

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Fifty years ago, a poor mountaineer named Jed Clampett struck gold -- er, oil, that is -- when "The Beverly Hillbillies" " debuted on CBS.

"Black gold, Texas tea," Jed called his windfall in the show's memorable theme song as he packed up his mother-in-law, Granny, daughter, Elly May, and second cousin Jethro before headed to Beverly Hills.

Fifty years, nine seasons, seven Emmy nominations, and countless reruns later, whatever happened to the cast of "The Beverly Hillbillies"? Let's find out.

Buddy Ebsen

The veteran actor was best known for his role as Jed Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and later for his role as detective Barnaby Jones in the 1970s series of the same name. Perhaps a lesser known fact about the actor is that he was originally slated to play the Tin Man in the 1939 MGM film "The Wizard of Oz." Soon after filming began, Ebsen fell ill and was hospitalized. Doctors determined that the actor was suffering an allergic reaction to the metallic dust used in the Tin Man makeup, so Jack Haley replaced him in the film. Buddy Ebsen died in 2003.

Irene Ryan

The Emmy-nominated actress known as the beloved Granny followed her "Beverly Hillbillies" run by playing Berthe in the Broadway production of "Pippin." Ryan died a year later in 1973. But the late actress's passion for her craft lives on with the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, which donates funds to young theater arts students. In her will, Ryan left more than $1,000,000 to fund the scholarships.

Donna Douglas

She brought Marilyn Monroe-style glam to "The Beverly Hillbillies," but Donna Douglas's Elly May was a tomboy at heart. Douglas's post-sitcom break came when she landed a role opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 big screen movie "Frankie and Johnny," but fans may forever think of her as Elly May Clampett. In 2011 the actress sued CBS and Mattel over a Barbie doll based on her "Beverly Hillbillies" character, claiming the toy maker engaged in the unauthorized use of her "name, likeness, image, and attributes." The actress turns 79 years old on Sept. 26, the same day as the sitcom's 50th anniversary.

Max Baer Jr.

He played the dimwitted Jethro Bodine on the show, but in real life actor Max Baer Jr. went on to write, direct, and star in 1974's "Macon County Line," as well as direct and produce the 1976 Robby Benson flick, "Ode to Billie Joe." Later, the actor successfully catapulted off of his "Hillbillies" fame by buying licensing rights and marketing "Beverly Hillbillies" slot machines to casinos. Plans to develop a "Beverly Hillbillies"-themed casino complex in Nevada didn't fare so well. In fact, the 24 acres of land Baer purchased for the project is currently in litigation. As for whatever became of his "Beverly Hills" character, who would be in his 70s now, Baer told USA Today, "He's probably the owner of the best little whorehouse in Texas, having figured out by now that there's something more to girls than just cooking and cleaning."

Raymond Bailey

According to his bio on TV Land, he didn't always get along with his fellow cast members, but actor Raymond Bailey worked steadily in television, appearing in numerous programs from "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" to "The Twilight Zone." It was his "Beverly Hillbillies" role as uptight banker Mr. Drysdale, though, that the actor is best remembered for. Ironically, the TV banker died on Income Tax day in 1980, at the age of 75.

Nancy Kulp

Viewers knew her as the plain Jane banker's secretary, Miss Jane Hathaway, on the show, but in real life, actress Nancy Kulp had political aspirations. Her 1984 bid for Congress had her defeated against incumbent Rep. Bud Shuster, but that wasn't the biggest blow. According to the New York Times, Kulp's "Beverly Hillbillies" co-star, Buddy Ebsen, recorded political radio commercials with the message: "Hey Nancy, I love you dearly, but you're too liberal for me -- I've got to go with Bud Shuster." Nancy Kulp died in 1991.

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