Who was Raymond Bailey before he was Mr. Drysdale?

It turns out, he was many things!

CBS Television Distribution

It's hard to picture Mr. Milburn Drsysdale outside the context of his role at the bank. After all, that's how we got to know him on The Beverly Hillbilles. He exists, to us, as the materialistic president of the bank, lording over the Clampetts' fortune. Sure, the rest of the characters' exploits might occasionally bring Mr. Drysdale out of the confines of his beloved bank, but for the most part, he's sat there, shackled to the money. 

That's not the case for actor Raymond Bailey, though. While money defined his onscreen counterpart, Bailey lived a full, rich life before The Beverly Hillbillies. His arc saw him pursue movie stardom, back away from the industry, and then come back to find the fame that eluded him years prior.

While he was still a teenager, Raymond Bailey left his home in San Francisco to seek his fortune in Hollywood. Reality quickly intervened, and Bailey discovered that hope and a wish weren't enough to land a movie deal. He took on many part-time gigs to survive in Los Angeles, working as a day laborer for the film studios that wouldn't hire him as an actor. However, Bailey's proximity to the pictures ended when he was fired for trying to sneak into a scene. He had to seek employment elsewhere, taking on work as a stockbroker and, foreshadowing his later role, a banker.

After facing nearly endless rejection, Bailey departed for the East Coast, where he found no better luck in the theater. So, having exhausted his options, Bailey took to the sea.

According to a 1965 profile in the Sioux City Journal, Bailey worked a few different jobs aboard merchant freighters. He was everything from a deck boy to a quartermaster on voyages that took him all over China, Japan, the Philippines, and the Mediterranean. 

When he returned to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, Bailey once again set about working a career as an actor. This time, though, his fortunes turned in his favor. He first appeared in one-off roles on shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, and Johnny Ringo. Slowly, though, as he built up his filmography, Bailey grew quite an impressive list of credits. He later guest starred in Have Gun — Will Travel, and The Twilight Zone, before showing up twice on Wagon Train and three times on Bonanza

The underlying theme of banking presented itself in Bailey's life again when he made the first of two guest appearances on Perry Mason, where he played a financier named Mr. Hillard. 

He found acclaim in movie roles in Sabrina and Vertigo and even starred alongside Andy Griffith in 1954's No Time for Sergeants.

1962 was the year when Bailey's life changed forever, though, as he finally earned the recognition he'd chased for decades in his highest-profile role yet. The Beverly Hillbillies became the work most people identified Bailey with, and for the rest of his life, he'd be Mr. Drysdale to many. 

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6 Comments

cperrynaples 26 days ago
Honestly, I am shocked there hasn't been a tribute to Dabney Coleman, especially since he also played Drysdale in the BH movie! He once did a "Watch Me On Me" commercial and even participated in the Columbo impersonation bit! He asked if Ed Begley Jr. did his part and then said he wasn't going to do it! And YES Coleman did TWO Columbos!
JP 26 days ago
The Beverly Hillbilliea are.still LOL.funny after nearly 60 years! A.tribute.to the brilliant writers and actors! ❤️
JERRY6 JP 5 days ago
Right no matter how many times I wtch the show I still laugh at some of the scenes , comedy never gets old ,. They all played their parts so well
cperrynaples 26 days ago
I also remember Bailey on Dobie Gillis! He left when he got the role of Drysdale!
SalIanni cperrynaples 23 days ago
I also saw him on Dobie Gillis as well as a great episode of "My Three Sons" which was called "Bub Gets A Job". In that episode, we see that he is wearing a toupee which accidentally comes off to reveal his bald head. Also in that episode was a teenage Rusty Stevens, who played Larry Mondello on "Leave It To Beaver".
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