Robert Osborne comes from the small town of Colfax, Washington, also the birthplace of legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. He moved south to become an actor and was initially courted by the predatory Hollywood agent Henry Willson. Willson represented Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Touch Connors. He also, as you might have guessed, gave those stars their ridiculous handles. Osborne, fortunately, was befriended by Lucille Ball and suddenly had no use for Willson. Had this not happened, the host of TCM might be known today as Robert Slab or perhaps, Brick Osborne. Willson seemed to believe that the names on The Flintstones were akin to screen machismo.
Osborne was soon booked on a sitcom pilot. "That seemed like the dumbest job in the world to me," explained Osborne when asked about his one-off part on The Beverly Hillbillies. "We had no idea, because we're all used to that title now, but The Beverly Hillbillies sounded so stupid at that time, and I wanted to be a serious actor ... I had no idea that it would be a success, because everybody connected with the pilot were second-rate people at that point. Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, they weren't big names ... Nobody had any idea that it would be a success. In those days when you did something like that you'd think 'Well, I've done it but now it's going away and you'll never have to worry about it again.' Now of course with reruns, YouTube and everything like that it comes back to haunt you forever..."