Denver Pyle Of The Andy Griffith Show Was A Real-Life Jed Clampett
The early 1960s saw the rise of two iconic “hillbilly” characters on television, Jed Clampett and Brisco Darling. The former was the patriarch of the Clampett family on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” who struck oil on his property and moved to Southern California with his family. The latter was a musician from the mountains outside of Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Despite the similarities in their appearance, the actors who played these roles had vastly different life paths.
Denver Pyle played Brisco Darling on “The Andy Griffith Show” and was also widely known for his role as Uncle Jessie on “The Dukes of Hazard.” He acted for pleasure, not profit, and became a wealthy man from “black gold.” After finishing his time on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Pyle began purchasing leases on oil wells. At the time, the price of oil was a meager $2.15 per barrel. He bought fringe producing wells in Texas and Colorado that were mostly dissipated. However, technological advancements in drilling allowed more oil to be extracted from those wells, just as the price of crude skyrocketed in the 1970s.
About a decade later, Pyle was getting more than $45 per barrel. He partnered with a man named Otis Johnson to form Otis Energy, which kept spinning its profits to buy up more and more wells in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. Pyle explained that he viewed acting as providing the cash flow he needed for oil speculation. Additionally, he liked acting and found it to be fun.
Despite his financial success, Pyle never lost touch with his roots. He remained an avid outdoorsman and spent much of his free time camping and fishing. He was also active in the Boy Scouts and served as a scoutmaster for many years.
In contrast, Jed Clampett’s character was a fictional creation who struck it rich in the world of make-believe. While the character’s wealth may have seemed extraordinary, Pyle’s real-life success story was even more remarkable. Pyle’s entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take calculated risks led to his financial success, which he enjoyed alongside his fulfilling career in acting.
The comparison between the characters of Jed Clampett and Brisco Darling serves as an excellent example of how appearances can be deceiving. While their characters may have been similar on-screen, the real-life stories of the actors who played them were vastly different. Denver Pyle’s success in the oil industry and his passion for acting and the outdoors are a testament to his remarkable life and legacy.