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Roy Clark First Shared His Cornpone Humor With The Masses on 'The Beverly Hillbillies'

Roy Clark might be as well-known for his sense of cornpone humor as his country hits ("Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone," "Yesterday, When I Was Young") and his virtuosic skill as a guitarist and banjo player.

That's true mostly because of Clark's run as Buck Owens' co-host of country music variety series Hee Haw and his guest host gigs on The Tonight Show. Yet it's another influential TV show, CBS' The Beverly Hillbillies, that first introduced the masses to Clark as recurring character Cousin Roy.

Clark's first appearance, the episode "Cousin Roy," aired on April 3, 1968—over a year before Hee Haw debuted in the summer of '69.

Per IMDb's episode synopsis, "Cousin Roy from back home comes to visit and to open up a distribution point for Mother Myrtle's Tonic. Granny isn't very keen on any competition against her own tonic."

Clark not only portrays Cousin Roy. He also dresses up as an old woman and plays Mother Myrtle Halsey (an inside joke aimed at Clark's real-life manager, Jim Halsey).

Cousin Roy returned for two 1969 episodes: "Cousin Roy in Moveland" and "Jethro the Flesh Peddler." Each time, the character brought not just laughs but down-home folk and bluegrass music to Beverly Hills.

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In the process, Clark got to work with what he considered world-class talents.

"Although they were playing hillbilly parts, they were great actors, Irene Ryan [Granny] and Buddy Ebsen [Jed Clampett], and I guess it was one of the first things that Donna Douglas [Elly May] did and one of the first meaningful things that Max Baer [Jethro Bodine] had done," Clark told the Archive of American Television (as quoted by MeTV).

Much like Rowlf the Dog, Clark's earliest breaks on television came via former boss and fellow well-rounded entertainer Jimmy Dean.

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