The Beverly Hill Billies – Portland Radio Days

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  • #45

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    There are probably not many who remember the original “The Beverly Hillbillies” entertaining Portland radio listeners in the early 1930’s with their live KEX studio shows. This unique troupe of performers was created by Raymond S. MacMillan, KMPC owner of the Beverly Hills, licensed station; Glen Rice, KMPC Station Manager & John McIntire, KMPC staff announcer (later movie & TV actor) to capture the attention of Los Angeles area listeners. They had decided to assemble a hillbilly band, convincing listeners, the members were real hill folk from the Santa Monica Mountains near Beverly Hills….And so “The Beverly Hill Billies” radio show began on April 6, 1930. [the name “hill billies” was split into two words most of the time in writings.]

    Los Angeles listeners loved the shows and they became the first “hillbilly” musical group to achieve widespread acclaim. The Beverly Hill Billies had two national hits on the Brunswick record label in 1930: “When The Bloom Is On The Sage” & “My Pretty Quadroon.” They made over 70 phonograph recordings by 1934. In July 1931 they left KMPC, briefly stopping at KNX Hollywood and appearing on the CBS Radio Network, August 4th at 9:30pm, heard over KOIN. Eventuality finding a home at KTM Los Angeles in September 1931.

    Jealousy among group members splintered the band into two troupes in January 1933, each claiming to be the original Beverly Bill Billies. One group stayed in Los Angeles joining KMTR Hollywood. Glen Rice took eight band members north, stopping at Bakersfield and performing at “The Fox Theater” through January 28, 1933.

    On Friday night March 17, 1933 KEX featured “Glen Rice & His Famous Beverly Hill Billies In Person” for 30 minutes at 8:30pm, on what was “a Northwest tour of personal appearances.” Cowboy and mountaineer ballads were mixed with instrumental entertainment. There were no theater appearances. Evidently this far north, the group was not as well known. Rice had to offer radio shows to get the word out to theaters. On March 25th a second show was broadcast Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm for an entire hour and Thursday March 30th still another show at 1:00pm for a half hour.

    On Thursday April 6, 1933 The Beverly Hillbillies hit the Portland stage at “The Hollywood Theater” for three days, in two shows nightly and one Saturday matinee. Ad: “HOLLYWOOD, East 41st and Sandy. On Our Stage TODAY till SATURDAY, GLEN RICE and The BEVERLY HILL BILLIES, Famous Radio and Brunswick Recording Artists …IN PERSON… “ZEK” — “GENE” — “DAVID” — “AARON” — “MR. TALL FELLER” — “BILL” — “MANUEL” — “SUNNY DAWSON.” Plus EDWARD G. ROBINSON in “SILVER DOLLAR with Bebe Daniels. 25c.” On the second night KEX broadcast the Hill Billies after their theater shows, at 11:30pm to midnight. Then on Saturday April 8th KEX broadcast the Hill Billies direct from the stage of The Hollywood Theater at 7:00pm, for 30 minutes. On April 13, 1933 it was announced KGW/KEX actor Ted O’Hara had joined The Beverly Hillbillies.

    On Friday April 14, 1933 “The Beverly Hill Billies” were heard over KGW at 9:45am for 30 minutes, most likely to promote their new stage shows at “The Capitol Theater.” Ad: “CAPITOL, 4th and Morrison. Now! In Person. Glen Rice and His Original BEVERLY HILL BILLIES, Famous Radio Stars. Stage Shows at 2:20, 4:30, 7:20, 9:40. 15c till 6PM. On The Screen, William Powell, Joan Blondell “LAWYER MAN.” On Saturday KGW presented the Hill Billies one more time for a half hour at 10:30am. Ad: “CAPITOL, 4th and Morrison. Hurry! They leave tonight! Glen Rice’s Original BEVERLY HILL BILLIES, Famous Radio Stars (in person), Stage Shows at 2:20, 4:30, 7:20, 9:40, 11:30. 15c till 6PM. On The Screen, William Powell, Joan Blondell “LAWYER MAN.” On June 7, 1933 it was reported that Ted O’Hara was continuing, touring with “The Beverly Hill Billies” which were now in Denver.

    “The Beverly Hill Billies” returned to “The Capitol Theater” on Wednesday January 24, 1934 having now appeared at leading theaters, practically in every state. The group now consisted of six men, a boy and a girl. Their quaint manners of simplicity, endeared them to radio and stage audiences, as some played music and others yodeled haunting songs of mountain hillbillies to Capitol’s capacity crowds. On KEX they were now known as “Glen Rice & His Beverly Hill Billies” performing half hour shows beginning on Thursday January 25, 1934 at 1:00pm. Then on Friday at 1:30pm & Saturday at 12 noon.

    Three months later on Wednesday April 4, 1934 “Glen Rice & His Beverly Hill Billies” were brought back, in response to hundreds of requests. Zeke, Eb, Elmira and Litttle Sonny Dawson, boy yodler with his trained hound-dog, were out to do their dang best. The Hill Billies first appeared on KEX at 12:35pm with a 25 minute show, followed on Thursday with a half hour at 9:30am and Friday & Saturday back to 25 minutes at 12:35pm. Venue wise, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday they opened a return engagement at “The Capitol Theater” with the movie “Fugitive Lovers” starring Robert Montgomery and Madge Evans. The Hill Billies were also back on KEX Tuesday April 10th for a 25 minute show at 12:35pm. Later in the week they sailed to Australia to fill a long engagement.

    On Friday March 15, 1935 “Glen Rice & His Beverly Hill Billies” re-appeared in Portland. Ad: “John Hamrick’s Oriental Theater. Today’s The Day! Another Sensational STAGE SCOOP! …Those Celebrated Originators of MODERN MOUNTAIN MUSIC! GLEN RICE and his BEVERLY HILL BILLIES. NBC-Brunswick Stars In Person. NO ADVANCE IN PRICES. 15c Till 6PM. Nites 25c. On The Screen! First Run! ANN HARDING In the Widely-Talked-of Novel “Enchanted April.” The one hour engagements lasted through Wednesday March 20th. They did afternoon & evening shows.

    Also on March 15, 1935 “Glen Rice & His Beverly Hill Billies” were again heard over KEX Friday & Saturday at 1:15pm for 15 minutes. Then on Monday at 2:30pm they performed at 45 minute show and Tuesday through Thursday back at 1:15pm for 15 minutes, ending on March 21, 1935.

    “The Beverly Hillbillies” would not return to Portland until July 1, 1954 with “Jack Benny In Person In His Variety Revue” at Public Auditorium through July 4th. Also appearing with Jack was “Sammy Davis, Jr., Gisele Mackenzie, Channing Pollock, Stuart Morgan Dancers—-Nita & Peppi—-Jack Benny’s Beverly Hillbillies.” Were they a Benny concoction, using the name? On July 5, 1957 The Oregonian reported this: “Funniest routine found him [Benny] in tattered trousers and straw hat–and fiddle–backed by the Beverly Hillbillies who appear with him occasionally on television.” [The Jack Benny Program, CBS]

    On September 26, 1962 CBS Television premiered “The Beverly Hillbillies” Wednesday night at 9:00pm. Critics blasted the series but the Hillbillies were an overnight hit, climbing to the number one spot, revealed in Nielsen ratings November 5, 1962 and later becoming the top program of the 1962-63 season. Still later the 1963-64 season as well.

    On January 24, 1963 four members of the original Beverly Hill Billies: Curt Barrett; Charles “Charlie” Quirk; Ashley “Jad” Dees & Aleth F. Hansen, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court for $1.25 Million in a damage action, claiming prior rights to the name and an injunction to keep the television performers from use of the title. The plaintiffs contended they had used the name in question for more than 30 years. The defendants were the stars of the program: Buddy Ebsen; Irene Ryan; Donna Douglas; Max Baer, Jr.; Bea Benaderet; creator, Paul Henning & executive producer, Al Simon.

    The Beverly Hill Billie plaintiffs won the lawsuit. I’m guessing the defendants did not fight this. There seems to be no date for the announcement of the outcome. Creator & writer Paul Henning had been raised on a farm in Independence, Missouri. He based his characters on the summers he spent camping in the Ozarks.

    References: The Bakersfield Californian, The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows, Ken Griffis, The Lancaster Eagle Gazette, The Portland Oregonian, Radio Station Treasury 1900-1946.

    #2439

    semoochie
    Participant

    “Venue wise, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday they opened a return engagement at “The Capitol Theater” with the movie “Fugitive Lovers” starring Robert Montgomery and Madge Evans.” Madge Evans later played Elizabeth Montgomery’s mother-in-law in “Bewitched”. Interesting connection.

    #2440

    RadioBuggie
    Participant

    Facinating…

    #2441

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Yes, that was my thought, when seeing the name mentioned in 1933. Had never heard of this before. Like a lot of these kinds of discoveries, I just stumbled upon it by accident.

    #2442

    RadioBuggie
    Participant

    Strangely enough I was recently out-of-state at some casino and had overheard

    Jed Clampett exclaim at a poker table after he had lost almost all of his winnings:

    “It’ll all come back now, ya hear?” – –

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