About that time Max Baer Jr. played Jethro's twin sister on The Beverly Hillbillies
Max Baer Jr. was a man who looked like a lady, or a man who looked like his twin sister.
Max Baer Jr. was known for playing the role of Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), but he was also known for another role on the same show: Jethrine.
Jethrine is Jethro's twin sister who appeared in eleven episodes of the hit series. She was a big, deep-voiced girl standing over 6'4 — but a girl, nonetheless.
According to a 1963 interview with The Pittsburgh Press, Baer Jr. said he never expected Jethrine to come with his role, but there he was, in a dress and a blonde wig.
The actor admitted that at first, he was against the decision to add a sister to his story. He said he looked like an unlikely woman and worried that audiences would find it tacky.
"The producer had asked me if I had any inhibitions about playing a girl and I told him I don't have any inhibitions in front of a camera," Baer Jr. said. "I just wanted to know if it was going to help me career-wise. The role is very difficult."
Baer Jr. had no choice but to accept his new sister like she was family. He said even his brother didn't recognize him the first time he appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies wearing a dress and a blonde wig.
"There's curiosity to the point where people have written in to see if it's a girl or a boy," Baer Jr. said. "For one show we'll use a split screen and the audience will see me as both a boy and a girl. That will really confuse them."
Over time, Baer Jr. started to embrace this newfound feminine side. He said, at first, he had trouble with her makeup, but he eventually adjusted. Even though he's the only leading lady with a 5 o'clock shadow, it seemed natural that he should portray his own sister.
How could the producer find a girl the size of Max Baer Jr.? Sure, his female impersonation may not have won him an Emmy, but he did develop a fanbase as Jethrine, and he was able to show his depth as an actor. And for fans who didn't like Jethro's twin sister?
"Anytime you do something out of the ordinary people will tease you about it," Baer Jr. said.
When Baer Jr. was playing Jethro he got a lot of love, too. According to a 1962 interview with The Birmingham News, Baer Jr. said he would receive more fan letters than anyone else on the show with an estimated 2,000 fan letters per week.
"It's all those marriage proposals I'm getting in the mail," Baer Jr. said. "Gosh, the girls send in their pictures and some are mighty pretty, too. But they ought to know one thing: I'm not the marrying kind. I like to date, but seldom the same girl twice in a row."
Whether he was playing Jethro or Jethrine; Baer Jr. received a lot of love for his role(s) on The Beverly Hillbillies. He was a man who looked like a lady, or a man who looked like his twin sister.