The Everett Collection

Buddy Ebsen was the star of Beverly Hillbillies, but Max Baer Jr. had more fan mail

The Beverly Hillbillies was loved by many fans. The series' humor, antics and tight-knit family ranked high among fans and high in the Nielsen ratings during its duration on-air from 1962 to 1971. But if there was anything fans loved more than the series, it was the show's stars. 

Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas and Max Baer Jr. were the four main stars fans went wild for. Specifically, Buddy Ebsen. He was one of the show's most popular stars with prior success in Hollywood.

While Ebsen may have had the popular vote, Baer Jr. had the women's vote. 

According to a 1962 interview with The Birmingham News, Baer Jr. said he still rubbed his eyes in amazement over the sudden change in his career and popularity because of his role as Jethro Bodine. 

He was a superstar and he had the fan mail coming in to prove it.

"Gosh, the girls send in their pictures and some are mighty pretty, too," Baer Jr. said. "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."

A very honest answer that may have cost him a few pieces of fan mail from adoring women. According to the interview, Baer Jr. would usually receive around 2,000 pieces of fan mail a week.

Despite being the most popular person on the show, as measured by his fan mail, Baer Jr. gave all the credit to his co-star Buddy Ebsen. He added: "If every young actor had the pleasure of working with Buddy he'd have something going for him in a big way."

"Naturally I'm grateful and flattered, but I'm not the star of this thing by any means," Baer Jr. said. "If I'm getting more fan mail I'd say it's due to two factors: 1. Buddy's admirers are not of the age group that writes letters and 2. Buddy, being the pro he is, has made my part of Big Jethro what it is. Right from the beginning he has been throwing the best lines to me, as well as to Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas and others in the cast."

Ebsen and Baer Jr. had a close friendship off-screen, too. According to the interview, Baer Jr. would go sailing with Ebsen on his boat. The two would even enter in boat races together and had a knack for winning. 

Even though Baer Jr. had the most fan mail, he was Ebsen's biggest fan. 

"If he feels a scene should go to someone else because it would be funnier that way, he's quick to point it out to the producer," Baer Jr. said. "All I can say is that if I'm ever as big a star as Buddy, I hope I'll be as big a person as he is."

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