THE EGYPTIANS BUILT THE SPHINX. The Frogs built the Eiffel Tower. But what will us AMERICANS be remembered for? Up until now, not a helluva lot. Americans seem to have lost the pioneering spirit and gumption required to make our most fantastic dreams a reality. However, there is one man left who refuses to let his dreams die. One man whose vision includes building an architectural marvel so advanced it will put all others to shame. One man who will never stop fighting the senseless machinations of bureaucracy until his dream, his vision, becomes a reality. And that man is--Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies.
Max Baer, Jr. may have played Jethro Bodine in The Beverly Hillbillies from 1962 to 1971, but he intends to be remembered for realizing his dream: building Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino in Reno, Nevada. When constructed, Baer's $175 million, 50-acre, 408-room hotel/casino will be the biggest of its kind, and fashioned after the fictional mansion he lived in on TV--except a lot, LOT bigger.
Here are just a few of the hillbilly highlights one can expect when visiting Jethro's Casino: animatronic versions of Jed, Granny, Jethro, and Ellie Mae; a replica of the Clampett's Ozark Mountain shack; waitresses who dress in Ellie Mae-style pigtails and shorty shorts; a theater which continuously shows all 274 episodes of the series; "the Dancing Grannies" (sexy showgirls who dress and dance like the family's matriarch); 400,000 feet of retail space, including stores selling Jethro boots and rope belts, Granny glasses, and Ellie Mae slingshot bras; eateries with names like "Granny's Victuals and Hogjowls Restaurant," "Jethro's All-You-Can-Et Buffet," and "Drysdale's Fancy Eatin' for the Richuns," named for the series' stuffy bank owner, Mr. Drysdale.
Though most would expect Baer's vision to end here, there's also a 16-plex theater; a pet shop (called "Ellie's Critters"); "Granny's Shotgun Wedding Chapel" (where grooms are handcuffed to the sheriff, and "forced" into marriage at gunpoint); and to top it all off, instead of a marquee, customers are lured into Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino by a 240-foot oil derrick that shoots fire 70 feet into the sky. Oh, and apparently there's gambling, too.
So how did Max Baer, Jr. (now 61 years old) go from playing a backwoods hayseed who called their swimming pool a "cement pond" to spearheading a multi-million dollar casino resort? Born in 1937 and raised in Sacramento, Baer never entertained the idea of becoming an actor until he was "discovered" while visiting the Warner Bros. lot (an executive thought he looked like James Garner). After several small and unsuccessful roles, Baer decided to give acting one more chance, and attended an open audition for what would become The Beverly Hillbillies. Baer got the part, and was promised $1,000 for the pilot, and $500 an episode thereafter.
Even at the height of the show's popularity, Baer never made more than $800 per episode, and after the show ended, he found himself hopelessly typecast. Unable to find any work, Baer decided to work for himself, and directed/produced two highly profitable B-movies: the Robby Benson classic Ode to Billie Joe, and the seminal "small-town psycho cop" film Macon County Line. The profit from these movies allowed Baer to retire in 1979, and since then he's devoted his life to building his dream: a gambling palace so opulent, it would make Mr. Drysdale poop his pants in envy.
And though the Reno City Council had the nerve to question Baer's decision to build a 240-foot, fire-spitting oil derrick (they actually thought it would look "tacky"), intelligent minds prevailed, and the city gave Baer's project the green light. Groundbreaking ceremonies should take place later this year, and even if you don't fancy yourself a gambler, here's a sure bet: The minute the doors open to Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino, Humpy will be there--front and center! Bumpkin or no, anyone who has the hamhocks to pursue their dream and construct a hillbilly casino based on a sitcom gets my respect. Or, in the immortal words of Kevin Costner, "If he's gonna build it? Then baby... I'm gonna come!"