Fan-favorite hillbilly actors Buddy Ebsen and Howard Morris joined forces for one country bumpkin sketch
After making a name for himself in Fifties films like On the Riviera and White Christmas, Danny Kaye starred in his own variety show in the mid-Sixties. It was perfectly tailored to his comedic and musical chops. In more than 100 episodes over four seasons, The Danny Kaye Show featured guest stars like Mary Tyler Moore, Vincent Price and Clint Eastwood. Sketch actor Harvey Korman appeared alongside Kaye in most episodes before his most famous gig on The Carol Burnett Show.
Howard Morris, who got his start on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, also acted in many Danny Kaye sketches just as he was becoming a frequent sitcom guest star and Hanna-Barbera voice actor. His most famous character is no doubt the wily Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show.
He first appeared as Ernest T. in the 1963 episode “Mountain Wedding.” Though the character would only show up four more times, he has remained a fan favorite.
A year after Ernest T. Bass first caused trouble in Mayberry, Howard Morris played a very similar character on The Danny Kaye Show in a sketch that referenced more than one famous TV hillbilly.
Buddy Ebsen was the episode’s guest star at the height of his Beverly Hillbillies stardom. Naturally, he had to play Jed Clampett at least once. Ebsen introduces a sketch as Mr. Clampett then goes on to explain that he’ll actually be playing his twin brother, Jed Clunk. This second Jed has two sons played by Howard Morris and Danny Kaye. Morris’s character, Spud Clunk, wears a hat and black vest that seem to be taken right out of Ernest T.’s ramshackle closet!
Sometimes sitcom characters crossed over into different shows (Jed Clampett visited Hooterville after all) but most TV intermingling had to happen under the guise of parody, like the Western Cartrock family (Stone Age versions of the Cartwrights from Bonanza) on The Flintstones.
Thus, variety shows were a great place to see two characters – or in this case two very similar looking characters – getting to interact who otherwise would never meet on their respective sitcoms.
Though Jed Clampett and Ernest T. Bass never shared time onscreen, this sketch from The Danny Kaye Show featuring Buddy Ebsen and Howard Morris provides a glimpse at what that interaction might be like. We think the two TV hillbillies would have a lot in common, and Ernest T. would surely love a bowl of Granny Clampett’s possum chili.