Jed Clampett was not "shootin' at some food"

In the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies, we heard every week that “then one day he was shootin’ at some food, and up through the ground come a-bubblin’ crude”. This is accompanied by a shot of Jed shooting a rifle, then looking curiously as oil starts bubbling up from the hole in the ground. Ignoring the possibility of actually drilling for oil with a rifle, this has always bothered me because it is not consistent with the story shown in the first episode. In the episode, an oil wildcatter approaches the Clampetts for permission to look on their land. When he leaves, Jed says to his family something like “I didn’t want to tell him that he wouldn’t find any wildcats out there, there’s too much oil.” In other words, the oil was on the surface for a long time and the family was well aware of it, but didn’t realize its value.

So does anyone know the scoop here on how this inconsistency came to be? Was the “shooting” origin story originally planned and then changed after the theme song was written?

I’d say Jed knew about the oil because of the hunting incident, and the oil company sent out a geologist simply because they knew from their own data that the area was sitting on top of an oilfield.

The geologist confirmed their suspicions and was in a hurry to find a phone so he could make his report (to Tulsa, I think it was). I haven’t seen the episode in years, so I don’t know how “wildcatting” came into it. Wildcatters are independent producers who gamble that oil can be found at a particular location.

My dad was in the oil business for many years in Appalachia, where the stuff does ooze out of the ground if the rock formations are right. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bullet in the right place could release some more, though I doubt it would “bubble” out of the ground.

It allowed for a joke, son.

The wildcatter obviously showed up after Jed found the oil. The joke makes that clear: why would he say it was full of oil if he hadn’t found it first?

Okay, now can somebody explain why Jed’s friends all told him he should move to California? Why couldn’t he have been a millionaire back in whatever state he was living in?

Well, if this is the intended story, the opening is very misleading at the least. The next line after “bubblin’ crude” is “Next thing you know old Jed’s a millionaire” accompanied by a shot of Jed excitedly running into his cabin and saying something to Granny. It certainly seems made to look like Jed saw the oil bubbling up and immediately realized he was rich.

Too many (new) relatives looking for handouts? They should improve themselves (hah!) by moving to a better part of the country? To save Elly from being snatched up by some dumb local yokel (all stereotypes provided by the original show) with an eye on her prospects? Because the weather’s better? And who doesn’t want to move from almost anywhere to California? In the 60’s?

I just rewatched most of the first episode (the things I do for the SDMB). The idea to move to California was strongly pushed by Jethro’s mother Pearl. Her arguments included: the family would be living among the movie stars they had seen in the (apparently one and only) movie they had seen, it doesn’t get cold there, Granny would be safer since she had slipped on the ice last year, Ellie-May could get a fine education, crops grow twice as big out there, and “we could come visit you” which seems to be her real motivation.

Rich people live in enclaves. Ever has it been so.

Anybody remember the SNL skit called “The Bel Airabs”?

Now this here’s the story of a man named Abdul
A poor desert Bedouin who didn’t have no fuel
But then one day he was shooting at some Jews
And up from the sand came a bubbling’ ooze . . .

Pearl was, IIRC, a pretty significant character in the show’s first season, even if she wasn’t in the lead cast. She was played by Bea Benaderet, and, after the first season of The Beverly Hillbillies, producer Paul Henning moved Benaderet to a new rural comedy which he’d created, Petticoat Junction. Due to that, they wrote Pearl out of The Beverly Hillbillies, saying that she’d moved home.

Poor people in a rich area = Beverly Hillbillies.
Rich people in a poor area = Green Acres.

I would think it would be unpleasant to have millions of dollars and living in a log cabin or whatever shithole they were living in. (this is if word of such had gotten out to the surrounding neighbors). I think I would move somewhere. Somewhere safer. I know this show was decades ago, but even then, rich people living in the middle of nowhere were sitting ducks for robbers, SCAMMERS, even kidnappers . Think about it. You live in a shack outside of Bugtussle. Word gets around Uncle Jed has millions of dollars of oil. I would not want to be Uncle Jed.

I haven’t seen this in ages but loved it. If memory serves, the second verse is:

Saudi Soda. Kuwaiti Kool Aid. Persian Perrier.

The next thing you know Abdul’s a billionaire
the kinfolk said “Abdul, move away from there”
They said California’s is the place (something something)
So he loaded up the Rolls and they moved to Bel Air.

Swimming pools. Movie stars. Jews.


During the theme song, we see Jeb rushing in to tell Granny something while the line being sung is “Next thing you know Jeb’s a millionaire”, but I think in actual episode he’s excited because there’s a helicopter approaching and he’s never seen one.

Where WERE the Clampetts from? Kaintucky? The Ozarks?

If the former, they could have moved up to a mansion in Bluegrass country, raised horses for the Derby, and invested in Clampett’s Fine Aged Bourbon distillery. If the latter, they could have become the cream of sassity of Branson, Missouri.

(Regional spelling unabashedly cribbed from Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner)

The Ozarks, apparently. Paul Henning’s other two rural comedies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, were set in the same area as the Clampetts’ home, and there were crossover characters (like grocer Sam Drucker) and episodes across the three series.

I just saw this part. He actually rushes in to tell Granny that Jethro is approaching and is driving a car, which causes everyone to panic and take cover since Jethro is apparently the worst driver in the world, and Jethro does indeed crash the car into the Clampett’s chicken coop. The helicopter bit was a little earlier, where the Clampetts think the helicopter bringing the oil executives is some monstrous creature and try to shoot it down.

It was ‘Artistic License’. Go soak your head in the Ce-ment pond.

See: The Pearl by John Steinbeck. Full text.

Steinbeck had this story first.

something <= “… without a care”
Rolls <= camel

I forget what brought it to mind, but yes, I happened to think of that the other night at work.

Yet another “skit they might not be able to do these days”.