Max Baer Jr. is an American actor, director, producer, and businessman who has an estimated net worth of $50 million.
He is best known for playing Jethro Bodine on the popular 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. Also, he has had success on the show and various business ventures.
Max Baer Jr Net Worth
According to the Celebrity Net Worth, Max Baer Jr. has accumulated an approximate net worth of $60 million as of 2023. Most of this fortune stems from his earnings during the 9 season run of The Beverly Hillbillies in the 1960s.
Baer was paid quite handsomely as one of the main stars of the consistently top-rated sitcom. While specific salaries were never revealed, it is believed he made around $25,000 per episode by the end of the series.
When residuals are factored in, it is estimated that Max Baer Jr. has earned over $50-60 million just from The Beverly Hillbillies over the decades. This massive windfall from one sitcom role contributed significantly to his current millionaire status.
However, Baer also enjoyed lucrative paydays from producing films like Macon County Line and Ode to Billy Joe, which added to his bottom line. His wise business investments and holdings have also paid dividends over the years.
So while his acting career may have stalled after his Hillbillies heyday, the financial security he gained from playing Jethro Bodine allowed Baer to pursue a variety of projects and business ventures. Due to both his onscreen talents and shrewd business acumen, Max Baer Jr. remains an anomaly as a mega-rich celebrity forever tied to one classic character.
Early Life and Education
Max Baer Jr. was born in Oakland, California, on December 4, 1937. His father was the famous heavyweight boxer Max Baer, the world champion from 1934 to 1935, having defeated boxing legend Primo Carnera for the title. His mother was Mary Ellen Sullivan, his father’s second wife.
Due to his father’s fame and boxing fortune, Baer enjoyed a comfortable childhood growing up in Sacramento in the 1940s and 50s. He attended Christian Brothers High School, where he excelled at football and baseball. Interestingly, Baer didn’t take up boxing like his father during school.
After graduating high school in 1955, Baer Jr. studied business administration at Santa Clara University. While at Santa Clara, he considered trying his hand at boxing and even competed in a campus tournament. However, Baer ultimately decided against pursuing the sport seriously to focus on acting. After just one year, he dropped out of Santa Clara to move to Hollywood and begin his career.
Career Beginnings and The Beverly Hillbillies
Baer began his acting career in the late 1950s, appearing in guest spots on various TV shows like Maverick, Surfside 6, and Hawaiian Eye. His first regular role came in 1959 on the sitcom The Faith of Our Children. Though the show only lasted one season, it helped establish Baer as a professional actor.
His big break came in 1962 when he played a role as Jethro Bodine on the CBS sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. Jethro is the naive, dimwitted nephew of the main character, Jed Clampett. The show became a massive hit and ran for nine seasons through 1971. Though considered slow-witted, Jethro provided plenty of laughs with his exaggerated hillbilly persona. His popularity led to Baer receiving two Emmy nominations for his performance. The Beverly Hillbillies cemented Baer’s place as a sitcom star and household name.
Later Acting Career
After The Beverly Hillbillies ended, Baer found it challenging to escape Jethro Bodine’s shadow. He appeared in films like Macon County Line and Angels Revenge in the 1970s and guest spots on shows like Love Boat and Murder She Wrote. Baer also capitalized on his Jethro Bodine fame by starring in the low-budget comedy Lethal Injection in 1987.
In 1962, Baer produced and starred in Ode to Billy Joe, based on the hit song. The film was a small-budget film and was a surprise box office success. Baer occasionally returns to the Jethro Bodine role, like appearing in the 1993 TV movie The Legend of Beverly Hillbillies. He also makes appearances at pop culture conventions to reminisce about his Hillbillies days.
Sources of Income
Max Baer Jr. built his multimillion-dollar fortune through a few critical sources over his long career. The vast majority of Max Baer Jr.’s fortune stems from his iconic role as Jethro Bodine on the hit 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.
This iconic sitcom role as Jethro Bodine is by far Baer’s most significant source of wealth. He earned an estimated $50-60 million total from his salary and residuals from the show’s 9-season run. The residuals continue today thanks to licensing, syndication, and DVD sales.
Baer earned sizable salaries by starring in films like Macon County Line. As a producer and owner of his production company, he also got a share of profits from certain films he made.
Also, he invested widely in real estate like apartment buildings, homes, and undeveloped land. The properties and their appreciation added to his net worth.
Baer invested smartly in oil wells, hotels, casinos, and the E! network concept, which brought significant returns. His stake in E! proved incredibly lucrative long-term.
Max Baer Jr. amassed an impressive fortune from his hit sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies and innovative business ventures. As Jethro Bodine on the long-running 60s series, Baer earned around $25,000 per episode by the end of the 9-season run.
Factoring in residuals, he has made $50-60 million from the sitcom role over the decades. Baer also produced successful films like Macon County Line, which added to his wealth.
Beyond acting, Baer proved to be a shrewd businessman by starting his own production company and making wise investments in oil wells, real estate, hotels, and casinos.
One of his most lucrative moves was partnering to develop the concept for E! Entertainment Television, which netted him a huge windfall when it sold in the 1990s. Baer also retained merchandising rights to The Beverly Hillbillies, earning revenues from DVDs and licensed products.
Baer has been married to Joanne Kathleen Hill from 1966 to 1971. The couple didn’t have any children together.
In later years, Baer relocated from Los Angeles to Sacramento to be closer to family. He continued to work while commuting to L.A. for film and TV projects. Baer also took classes at Sacramento State University in his 50s, almost completing a degree in history.
Baer is now 85 years old but still makes occasional film and TV appearances. He is also not above reprising his classic Jethro Bodine role, which helped make him famous and highly wealthy for a sitcom star who only partially escaped typecasting after his hit show ended. However, Max Baer Jr. will always be one of his era’s most financially successful TV actors.
FAQs on Max Baer Jr Net Worth
How did Max Baer Jr. get famous?
Max Baer Jr. first achieved fame playing Jethro Bodine on the popular 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. As Jed Clampett’s dimwitted nephew, Baer’s exaggerated hillbilly character provides comic relief for 9 seasons on the hit show.
What were Max Baer Jr.’s best business moves?
Some of Baer’s most financially successful business moves were investing in the initial idea for E! Television, owning oil wells and casinos, forming his own production company, and retaining merchandising rights to The Beverly Hillbillies.
Is Max Baer Jr. still acting today?
While now in his 85s, Baer does still occasionally act by reprising his famous Jethro Bodine role in projects like The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies (1993). He focuses more on business ventures but is open to acting opportunities connected to his most iconic character.
Max Baer Jr. achieved tremendous financial success and amassed an estimated $50 million net worth primarily through one unforgettable sitcom role. As Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, Baer capitalized on his popularity by earning a considerable salary that paid residuals for decades to come.
However, Baer smartly invested his earnings into a diverse portfolio of real estate, oil wells, hotels, casinos, and the genesis of E! Television. Baer will forever be the lovable, oafish Jethro, but he proved to have business savvy well beyond his onscreen character.