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America's top-rated TV series The Beverly Hillbillies retained its Number One status as it entered its second season on CBS in the fall of 1963. By this time, newly-rich mountaineer Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) and his family have become accustomed to their swank new Beverly Hills surroundings, but the Clampett clan's limitless wealth has not caused them to abandon their simple, basic down-home values. In other words, they may not be as bright or as well-spoken as their sophisticated neighbors, but they are essentially better and more lovable people, and will remain so as long as the series stays on the air. Although former regular Bea Benaderet had left The Beverly Hillbillies to star in her own sitcom, Petticoat Junction, the rest of the cast remains intact: the aforementioned Buddy Ebsen as Jed; Donna Douglas as Jed's wide-eyed, curvaceous, "critter"-loving daughter Elly May; Max Baer Jr. as Jed's doltish, highly impressionable nephew Jethro; Irene Ryan as Jed's nonegenarian mother-in-law Granny, still stirring up her special moonshine -- er, "rheumatizz medicine" -- and concocting mysterious mountain potions to cure all ills; Raymond Bailey as banker Milburn Drysdale, the delightfully avaricious executor of Jed's fortune; and Nancy Kulp as Drysdale's loyal secretary Miss Jane Hathaway, whose fondness for the Hillbillies in general, and Jethro in particular, is the primary motivation for her tireless efforts to help the mountaineers blend into "proper" Southern California society.
Among the subplots wending their way through the action of season two are Elly May's misadventures as the unrefined tomboy prepares for her society debut; the Clampetts' brief fling in the world of high fashion when their "Hillybilly Look" becomes all the rage amongst the wealthy Beverly Hills matrons; the "invasion" of the family's former hillbilly neighbor Lafe Crick (Peter Whitney), who shows up at the mansion for a brief visit and then refuses to leave; and of course, the never-ending efforts by Mr. Drysdale's snooty wife Margaret (Harriet MacGibbon) to oust the Clampetts from her ritzy neighborhood. According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, eight of the highest-rated TV episodes of all time were seen on The Beverly Hillbillies -- with all of these, notably the record-breaking "The Giant Jackrabbit," premiering during the series' second season. It has been theorized that the viewing public, traumatized by the then-recent assassination of John F. Kennedy, embraced The Beverly Hillbillies as an antidote for their collective grief. True or not, the fact remains that the series reached its peak popularity during its second year on the air -- much to the dismay of certain pundits who were convinced that The Beverly Hillbillies represented the end of civilization as we know it! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, (more)