Max Baer: Jethro’s Boxing Dad

Heavyweight champ Max Baer, whose heyday was the 1930s, made appearances in late vaudeville as well as Hollywood films, including The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) with Myrna Loy and Walter Huston, and (alongside his boxer brother Buddy) in the 1949 Abbott and Costello film Africa Screams. Half Jewish, he was much loved (along with Joe Louis) for being a foil to the Nazi boxer Max Schmeling. But his best remembered legacy today is probably his son Max Baer, Jr. who played “Jethro” on the Beverly Hillbillies with Buddy Ebsen. The elder Baer would not live long enough to see that come to pass. He passed away in 1959.

Now here’s Baer and Joe Louis being interviewed by that famous sports journalist Lou Costello:

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, please consult my critically acclaimed book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other fine establishments.


And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc










  1. I think “My Brush with Jethro” is an awesome title for something. in fact, what a great fringe show that would make! Viz:

    Act One, scene one:


    Assistant: Hello, Max Baer, Jr’s office.

    RL: Yeah, Hi this is Ralph Lewis. I represent Peculiar—

    (dial tone)

    RL: Drat, drat and double drat!


  2. My brush with Jethro – I was helping a friend produce a musical adaption of Ode to Billy Joe. Who would have guessed that Jr. held the rights to all of Bobby Gentry’s music? He was not at all interested in playing ball with us. A couple of phone calls with him and that project sank. Still, I’m a fan of Max and mad Max Jr. lol.


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