Q & A: The Beverly Hillbillies & Winston Cigarettes; Beane’s of Boston

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

First, I want to ask you: did you ever see THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES movie? If you haven’t, DON’T! It’s AWFUL!!! (with a capitol A). Now, I want to ask something about the show (which I love): I heard that Winston cigarettes dropped their sponsorship of it in 1965. Do you know why?
Joe

The R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, manufacturer of Winston cigarettes, pulled its sponsorship of The Beverly Hillbillies in May of 1967 voluntarily in order to fulfill its obligation to the tobacco industry’s advertising code [1]. The code was established in 1964 as an attempt to self-regulate and thus stave off government intervention. The code forbid cigarette advertisements from being shown during programs with a primary audiences under 21. According to Cynthia Lowry, “this means that a program is off limits to a member firm when, in two successive national Nielsen audience reports, the projected statistics of audience composition show that 45 per cent or more of the viewers are under voting age” [2].

The The Beverly Hillbillies had come close to hitting that mark in the past (with around 43% of its audience under 21); its growing popularity among viewers of all ages eventually forced the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pull out [3]. The Chicago Tribune noted that “it was a special event in television history, a first of its kind, and an opening to an ironic situation” given that the very success of The Beverly Hillbillies was the reason the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. had to ask CBS to switch its advertising to a different show [4].

I would like to inquire about a missing pilot for an American version of the hit British comedy ‘Are You Being Served?’. The pilot was called ‘Beans of Boston’ and was produced by Gary Marshall (Happy Days). The show starred Charlotte Rae (Facts of Life) and Alan Sues (Laugh-In). I was wondering if this film still existed and how to obtain a copy. Thank you!
Jeremy

CBS broadcast “Beane’s of Boston” (also referred to as “Beanes of Boston” without the apostrophe) on Saturday, May 5th, 1979 from 8:30-9PM. It was indeed an attempt to adapt Are You Being Served? (which had premiered in September of 1972 on BBC1) for American audiences. Set at a large, conservative department store called Beane’s of Boston, the pilot starred Tom Poston as Frank Beane, the owner, and George O’Hanlon, Jr. as his nephew Franklyn Beane, the manager. The storyline saw Frank Beane grudgingly agreeing to hold a beer festival in an attempt to raise money. Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, creators of Are You Being Served? helped write “Beane’s of Boston” and Lloyd served as a producer. The pilot was directed by Jerry Paris and executive producer by Garry Marshall.

Rounding out the cast were John Hillerman as John Peacock, floor manager, Charlotte Rae as Mae Slocombe, manager of the women’s department, Lorna Patterson as Shirley Brahms, Mae’s assistant, and Alan Sues as George Humphries, the effeminate manager of the men’s department. The characters were based, and in some cases named, after the corresponding characters in the British series. According to The Los Angeles Times, the pilot included a “laughable, even pitiful gay” character [1]. In Are You Being Served? the sexuality of Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries (played by John Inman) was played for laughs and it is likely that George Humphries was the gay character mentioned by The Los Angeles Times. Whether that had anything to do with the pilot not being picked up is unknown.

The pilot does not appear to be held at any of the largest television archives (the Library of Congress, UCLA’s Film & Television Archive, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Paley Center for Media) but that does not mean it is missing or lost. The production company, or whoever owns its library today, probably has the original elements somewhere. I believe it was produced by Paramount Television

Works Cited:

1 “…Ad Row Roundup.” Chicago Tribune. 10 May 1967: E9.
2 Lowry, Cynthia. “Cigaret Sponsor Loses Popular Show.” Chicago Tribune. 4 Jun. 1967: E14.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Taylor, Clarke. “Television and Gays: Out of the Video Closet?” Los Angeles Times. 9 Dec. 1979: N3.

6 Comments

  • Stanislav says:

    Alan Sues as Mr. Humphries? The mind boggles…

    Not surprising, though, as Lloyd probably knew Sues well from having worked with him on “Laugh-In.” He thought, “I need a campy gay guy” and thought of Alan. Who else? Paul Lynde would have been too acerbic for the role, and Jm J. Bullock was still a young unknown. There weren’t too many male actors around “flaming” enough for the part.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    When “THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES” premiered in the fall of 1962, it was originally scheduled at 9pm(et), and that was perfectly acceptable for R.J. Reynolds to co-sponsor the series {as it had been for them with “THE FLINTSTONES” the previous two seasons, right down to the integrated Winston commercials with Fred & Barney, at the end of their episodes}. In 1964, however, the series moved up a half-hour to 8:30 (which was the same time period “THE FLINTSTONES” had been seen on Fridays, until the fall of ’63}, and that was also the period the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking had been released ["It's bad for you"]…and that’s when the tobacco industry initiated its “advertising code”, because they KNEW the government was going to start “breathing down their necks” about advertising to an audience with a lot of kids watching. I believe that’s one reason why Liggett & Myers [Lark, L&M, Chesterfield King] dropped their primary sponsorship of “I DREAM OF JEANNIE” after its first season on Saturdays, as the direction of the show subtly shifted from “adults” towards a “family audience” (there were certainly fewer episodes featuring Jeannie and “Master” smooching, and focusing on his bachelor status, by the end of season one); Colgate-Palmolive became their primary sponsor for season two when it converted to color and moved to Monday nights in the fall of ’66. In any event, more kids began watching “THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES” at its earlier time, and by 1967, Reynolds decided to pull out of their co-sponsorship {Kellogg’s, the perfect sponsor that “pitched” to ALL age groups, continued as primary sponsor, with Campbell Soup Company taking Reynolds’ place}.

    About “BEANE’S OF BOSTON” {yes, it WAS produced by Paramount Television, in association with its most prolific sitcom producer in 1979, Garry Marshall}: Tom Poston was originally scheduled to become a regular on Marshall’s “MORK & MINDY” at the beginning of its first season, but couldn’t because of his commitment to the “BEANE’S” pilot. After it was rejected, Garry was able to “insert” him into “MORK” by mid-season…Tom (as “Franklin Delano Bickley”, the eternal grouch) stayed through the 1980-’81 season.

  • DuMont says:

    ‘Beane’s of Boston’ garnered a 12.4HH/24% rating for its airing on CBS.

  • EJL says:

    I, for one, would like to petition either Paramount, or Garry Marshall to release the “Beane’s of Boston” pilot on DVD. I’ve heard about it for so long. I think it’s time it saw the light of day again… maybe on a compilation DVD of failed pilots of the ’70s and ’80s? I’d buy a DVD set like that… and I’m sure a few others would as well!

  • R. Johnson says:

    I seem to remember Jed & Granny doing an ad for Winstons. Granny saying something like “Winston tastes good like a cigarette had oughter”
    Does anybody else remember this?

  • JJ says:

    Bostonions would LOVES to see Beane’s!!

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