Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thu Oct 01, 2009

Max Baer, Jr. is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is the son of boxer Max Baer. He was born Maximilian Adalbert Baer, Jr. in Oakland, California, the son of legendary boxing champion Max Baer and Mary Ellen Sullivan. His brother and sister are James Baer (born 1941) and Maude Baer (born 1943). His first acting role was in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Blackpool Pavilion in England in 1949. His acting career began in 1960 at Warner Bros., where he appeared on television programs including Maverick, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, Cheyenne and 77 Sunset Strip. In 1962, Baer was cast in the role of the doltish "Jethro Bodine" on the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. It was a role for which he continues to receive recognition. This would prove to be the high point of his acting career. The Beverly Hillbillies was one of the most successful television series in history. The hit comedy also starred Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, and Donna Douglas. During the nine-year run of the show, he also appeared on Vacation Playhouse, Love, American Style, and in the Western movie A Time for Killing. After The Beverly Hillbillies went off the air in 1971, Baer made several guest appearances on TV, but found himself typecast. His major contribution to the entertainment industry was in the field of feature motion pictures. Baer wrote and produced the drama Macon County Line (1974), in which he also played Deputy Reed Morgan. It was the highest-grossing movie per dollar invested at the time (a record that would later be dwarfed by The Blair Witch Project). Made for US$110,000, it garnered almost US$25,000,000 at the box office. He wrote, produced, and directed the drama The Wild McCullochs (1975), in which he also played Culver Robinson. Baer then conceived the idea of using the title of a popular song to make a movie and acquired the rights to a 1967 Bobbie Gentry hit song. Baer produced the drama Ode to Billy Joe (1976), which turned a big profit. Made for US$1.1 million, it grossed US$27,000,000 at the box office, plus earnings in excess of US$2.65 million in the foreign market, US$4.75 million from television, and US$2.5 million from video. The movie stars Robby Benson and Glynnis O'Connor. Since the success of Ode to Billy Joe, the first movie made at the time based on a popular song, the motion picture industry has capitalized on the trend, producing over 100 song title movies. Baer later decided to pursue the rights to the hit song "Like a Virgin," recorded by the singer Madonna in 1984. When ABC tried to prevent him from making the movie, he sued, and won a judgment of more than US$2,000,000. He directed the comedy Hometown USA (1979), then retired to his home at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, making occasional guest appearances on TV. In 1985, Baer began studying the gambling industry. He noticed that tourists would pay US$5.00 to US$6.00 admission to tour the "Ponderosa Ranch", which was the location for filming some episodes of TV's Bonanza. Once inside, all there was to see was a working ranch, but people enjoyed it because of the Bonanza connection. Baer decided if tourists would pay to see a ranch because of a well-known series, then they would pay to see something dealing with the series The Beverly Hillbillies. He came to terms with his "Jethro Bodine" identity and began to see it as a marketing opportunity toward the gambling and hotel industry. Baer obtained the sublicensing rights, including food and beverage rights, to The Beverly Hillbillies from CBS in 1991.

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