The real Mr. Drysdale was a self-described hambone

"Drysdale became a buffoon, then a real heel," said Raymond Bailey.

The Beverly Hillbillies didn't feature a ton of meaningful character arcs. It wasn't designed to. The characters work because of how clearly defined they are. Situations are funny because we know that these people don't fit into most of their situations. That wouldn't work as well if the characters grew and changed like real people. So, The Beverly Hillbillies doesn't feature a lot of serialized storytelling. Its episodic nature keeps things the same episode to episode, and year to year.

While its characters may not have grown, the show did. The most notable change was the Wizard of Oz-like leap from black-and-white to full color. However, another subtler change was the increased role Raymond Bailey had on the show. Throughout the series, his character, Mr. Drysdale, was featured more heavily, with more screen time and more involvement in stories. It's not hard to tell why, either. Raymond Bailey gives such a memorable performance as Drysdale that you can't help but clamor for more. And even though the character and his motivations don't change, Bailey's portrayal developed slowly.

"From a straight businessman, Drysdale became a buffoon, then a real heel," said Bailey of his performance. "I'm a hambone, so I'm playing him to the hilt."

As the show's producer, Paul Henning wasn't just responsible for The Beverly Hillbillies' existence. He was also the one in charge of decisions like making Drysdale a more prominent part of the show. According to an article in The North Adams Transcript, Henning began privately referring to Drysdale and his secretary Jane Hathaway as the "fifth and sixth Hillbillies."

Luckily for Henning, Raymond Bailey stuck around show business long enough to contribute a great performance. He was no quitter, but Bailey faced a host of setbacks that could have kept him from pursuing an acting career. "I spent a life of frustration," said Bailey of his early acting work.

"My frustration gave me only one goal — to save enough money to get out of wherever I happened to be. My problem was a lack of education— I quit school in the 10th grade, and left home when I was 15. I've worked for 30 cents a night doing voices for puppet shows and I've known an empty stomach and tears."

Maybe Mr. Drysdale deserved that fortune after all!

Watch The Beverly Hillbillies on MeTV!

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11 Comments

Mike 5 months ago
Check out MeTV's nightly Alfred Hitchcock repeats; Raymond Bailey appears in a gang of them = different roles each time, all serious.
- Except for a couple of times when he did bits in Hitchcock's comedy openers ... and Ray Bailey aced those too ...
tootsieg 6 months ago
Raymond Bailey was perfect as Mr. Drysdale. The characters of Mr Drysdale and Miss Jane worked very well together.
Cougar90 6 months ago
Raymond Bailey worked in the 1930s on the Civil Conservation Corps. They built state and federal parks, wildlife preserves, forests, ect. It was one of the few bright spots of FDR's New Deal. In fact, I wish they had it today.
Bapa1 6 months ago
I read a book about the Beverly Hillbillies. Bailey came off as sometimes being difficult to work with.
daDoctah 6 months ago
I don't know what they mean by suggesting that characters didn't change over time. Dash Riprock certainly got a lot more nuanced.
Andybandit 6 months ago
I love TBHB. I am so glad MeTv moved it to evenings. Sorry to the people who liked GP when it was on at this time.
Coldnorth Andybandit 6 months ago
With so many people liking different shows, there is no way to make everyone happy. MeTV rotates pretty well so your favorite comes around sooner or later. I never was fond of Gomer Pyle. I wish mission impossible was on earlier
MrsPhilHarris 7 months ago
Mr. Drysdale, Miss Jane and Jethro are my favourite TBH characters.
Coldnorth MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
I like the animals Elly has, and when Granny pretends that she is so frail which we all know she’s not
MrsPhilHarris Coldnorth 6 months ago
There was a baby raccoon on the show recently. Just a tiny little thing.

Granny was feisty!
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