Max Baer Jr. once saved Buddy Ebsen's life on the set of ''The Beverly Hillbillies''
The actor found himself in a frightful situation after a scene went out of control.
Most of us don't consider our day jobs a matter of life and death, but one fateful day during the filming of The Beverly Hillbillies, it was.
In his autobiography, The Other Side of Oz, actor Buddy Ebsen recounted a harrowing experience he had during production for the hit television series. He wrote, "In the show, during Jethro's 'Double-Naught Spy' phase, he inventively installed helicopter blades on the old Hillbilly truck, and with blind faith in the feasibility of his conversion, he and I prepared for takeoff in our first test flight." Viewers may recall that in "Double Naught Jethro", Jethro, after seeing a spy film, decides to reinvent himself as a secret agent and attempts to convert the family car into one fit for espionage.
Ebsen explained that the truck itself was on hydraulic jacks, which meant that while the blades above them moved, the truck would actually be raised by the hydraulics while the camera kept a tight shot of Jed and Jethro rising, giving the illusion that the car was rising from the ground. However, it was just moments into the first take that things began to go sideways.
Ebsen explained, "The system worked all right until it became apparent that the designer had not cranked in the vibration factor. The whirling blades rocked the truck. At an altitude of twelve feet, they shook the truck's body right off the jacks." Ebsen then dove from the car after it began falling toward him. He recalled, "I hit the concrete sound stage floor hard and lay there dazed and befuddled from my crash landing but conscious enough to wonder why the truck hadn't landed on me." It turned out Ebsen had someone looking out for him just a few feet away: Max Baer Jr.
Ebsen wrote, "There was Max, sturdy as the Colossus of Rhodes, coolly bracing the truck above me until I was dragged to safety. How he got there so fast I can only guess." So while we're sure not every day on the set of The Beverly Hillbillies wasn't as death-defying as that one, it's helpful to know that just like the Clampett family, the actors on set were sure to look after one another and, if need be, protect them from harm.