Denver Pyle of The Andy Griffith Show was a real-life Jed Clampett
The ''Brisco Darling'' actor became a true oil baron.
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Jed Clampett and Brisco Darling were darn similar "hillbilly" characters on television in the early 1960s, right down to their hats and mustaches. On The Beverly Hillbillies, Clampett discovered "bubbling crude" in his property, struck it rich, and moved to Southern California. Brisco Darling stuck to the mountains outside of Mayberry and found his true wealth in his musical family on The Andy Griffith Show.
Yet, in the real world, the actor who played Brisco Darling was the true oil tycoon. Denver Pyle, also widely known for his role as Uncle Jessie on The Dukes of Hazard, acted for pleasure, not profit. He became a very wealthy man from "black gold."
Not long after he finished his time on The Andy Griffith Show, a couple of years following his final episode on the series, coincidentally titled "The Darling Fortune," Pyle began purchasing leases on oil wells. At the time, the price of oil was a meager $2.15 per barrel.
"I bought fringe producing wells in Texas and Colorado that were mostly dissipated," Pyle explained to a UPI reporter in 1981.
But technological advancements in drilling would allow more oil to be sucked from those wells — just as the price of crude skyrocketed in the 1970s.
About a decade later, he was getting more than $45 per barrel.
Pyle partnered with a man named Otis Johnson to form Otis Energy. The firm kept spinning its profits to buy up more and more wells in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Texas.
"I look at it this way, acting provides the cash flow I need for oil speculation, he told the UPI. "And besides that, I like acting. It's fun."
His company's headquarters? Why, it was in Denver, Colorado, of course.