Max Baer Jr. is best known for his portrayal of Jethro Bodine on the iconic television show “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Premiering in 1962, the show quickly became a massive hit, climbing to the top of the ratings within three weeks, a record-setting pace according to IMDb. It enjoyed a successful run for nine seasons, producing 274 episodes before concluding in 1971.

Early Life

Born in Oakland, California, in 1937, Max Baer Jr. is the son of the legendary boxing champion Max Baer. He honed his southern drawl by emulating the accents of Andy Griffith and Jonathan Winters. After earning a business degree from Santa Clara University, Baer Jr. moved to Los Angeles. There, he landed the role of Jethro Bodine through an open audition, despite having no formal acting training. Baer Jr. embraced the character’s dimwitted persona, famously stating, “They can laugh with or at me. It makes no difference as long as they laugh.”

Career Challenges and Successes

Following the end of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Baer Jr. faced significant typecasting challenges. However, he managed to reinvent himself in the film industry, finding success as a producer and director. His 1974 film “Macon County Line” became the most profitable indie film of that year. In 1991, Baer Jr. purchased the rights to the “Beverly Hillbillies” name from CBS, aiming to create casinos and amusement parks themed after the show. His ambitions were met with legal hurdles, including a notable lawsuit against CBS in 2014, but his entrepreneurial spirit remained undeterred.

Personal Life

Baer Jr.’s personal life experienced its share of highs and lows. He married Joanne Kathleen Hill in 1966, but the couple divorced in 1971. He later had a relationship with model Chere Rhodes, who tragically passed away in 2008. Despite these personal challenges, Baer Jr. remains cherished for his iconic role as Jethro Bodine. Reflecting on his career, he noted, “My career has benefited greatly from the show.”


Max Baer Jr.’s legacy endures as a testament to his versatility and resilience. His ability to navigate the complexities of Hollywood and emerge successful in various ventures secures his place in television history. Despite the typecasting and personal setbacks, Baer Jr.’s contribution to entertainment, particularly his memorable performance in “The Beverly Hillbillies,” continues to be celebrated.

Do you think Max Baer Jr.’s entrepreneurial pursuits would have been successful if not for the legal complications? Share your thoughts on his journey and enduring legacy!

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