'The Beverly Hillbillies': John Wayne Was Paid For His Appearance In Bourbon

While a younger audience might not know what The Beverly Hillbillies was, it was a major sitcom for people around in the 1960s. The story of a country bumpkin who strikes it rich after finding oil, the show’s premise of rural folks being left outside the comfort zone remains tried and true to this day. At its peak, it was the most popular show on television, and several big-name celebrities appeared. None, however, were more prominent than John Wayne. 

What was The Beverly Hillbillies?

Those who have not heard about The Beverly Hillbillies have likely heard its theme song somewhere. It tells the story of a man named Jed, who accidentally shot into an oil well and stumbled upon millions in dollars. He, alongside the rest of the Clampett family, uprooted and moved to Beverly Hills to live alongside the rich and famous. 

The show held the record for the fastest number one hit upon its premiere and served as a bridge between the early black-and-white 1960s and the color 1970s. However, while the show was still among the most popular shows on television in the early 1970s, CBS nixed it in what is now known as ‘the rural purge’. 

To this day, that purge is spoken about as one of the most egregious instances of a network overstepping its bounds and canceling a show that was still in its prime. However, the show had a lasting legacy, and nearly 50 years after its start, several reunion specials and a 1990s movie remake helped keep it alive. However, there might not be a more significant testament to its success than an appearance by John Wayne.

John Wayne goes to Beverly

Wayne went to Hollywood around the same time that talking movies became the rage. He started in a series of small roles as athletes due to his tall, tough build. By the 1930s, however, he was a bonafide leading man. Wayne was known for his tough-guy persona and unique style of talking. His carefree attitude and imposing presence made him an ideal cowboy in the growing trend of western movies. 

Wayne’s first big movie, The Big Trail, was a massive undertaking that resulted in box office failure. However, at the end of the decade, Wayne appeared in John Ford’s Stagecoach, according to IMDb, and his career was never the same. He premiered in over 140 movies throughout his career, and many of them are still considered classics to this day. 

Films like The Searchers remain staples of the Western genre, while a late role in True Grit showed that Wayne could also act when given the shot. At the same time, when his career was peaking, however, Wayne made an appearance on Hillbillies, but the makers did not need to break the bank to get him involved. 

John Wayne gets paid 

Just because Wayne was one of the first box office superstars, it didn’t mean he had to take on big roles on big screens. His cameo in I Love Lucy remains one of the most iconic moments in television history. However, his part in Beverly Hillbillies was memorable, if not just for how they paid him. The episode features a poorly-aged plot involving the Clampett’s war with an indigenous tribe. 

Throughout the episode, the Clampett’s matriarch, Granny, wishes that she had someone like John Wayne to protect them from a staged attack. However, at the end of the episode, she gets her wish, as Wayne comes in to save the day. Producers didn’t have to break the bank to get the actor, either. He wasn’t paid a hefty sum. All it took was a bottle of bourbon, according to MeTV.

John Wayne’s legacy might be complicated by the controversial things he said throughout his life. However, there was a time where he was a star in a way that few could ever touch. For him to appear on a series like this, it shows just how big The Beverly Hillbillies was during its prime. 

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