California Artist (and Beverly Hillbillies Director) Richard Whorf

Richard Whorf

One of the unsung 20th century creators is Richard Whorf (1906-1966), the sometime actor who was director of the Beverly Hillbillies. Whorf was also a dancer, a designer, a producer and a writer. Whorf has a whole world view that is well to appreciate; namely traditional with a warped view of the world.

Whorf showed up in an old TV rotogravure section story on his artwork; he is pictured here at work on one of his old town America paintings. Entitled At Ease at His Easel, it says that the first time he saw Los Angeles he was playing Shakespeare.

Whorf was also a leader in studio work, and directed the Beverly Hillbillies episode where Mayflower descendant Priscilla Smith-Standish (Rosemary DeCamp) shows that the Clampetts are of better and earlier blood than the Drysdales because they are descended from English who landed in Virginia at Jamestown.

Whorf sold his first painting at age 15 for US $100. He had the style of Grant Wood or Norman Rockwell. Apparently, he had a one man show in 1963 with his designs.

“Who says,” he asked a reporter in 1963, “that a man has to do one thing?”

Whorf died in Santa Monica in 1966; we would love to know who has his paintings, and what they looked like. A question for readers. Is he related to the art director Peter Whorf, who is responsible for the A&M Herb Alpert record Whipped Cream and Other Delights.

Do any others know about his work?


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. A little known Richard Whorf painting will be up for sale this November 2019 at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. It’s of a movie set scene. More importantly it’s from the Estate of Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s first wife. Richard Worf directed two movies in which Frank Sinatra appeared. This is likely to be the most sought after Whorf since the ‘The First Sign of Spring’ from the Vincent Price estate. Follow Julien’s Auctions for more information coming soon.

  2. Are you the same ‘Rick Smith’ that had a graphics design biz in LA in the 70’s? If so, we were buds and would love to talk to you.

  3. Hi Pamela, so you are now ‘Baker’. Very happy for you and hope you are well. We ‘did’ have some great times in spite of how things turned out. Would love to compare notes on what we’ve been doing since.

  4. Hi Wells, I knew your father and my best friend back when we were at Dunhill. I think of him often and saddened by his leaving this plane. I came to your house often and watched you and your siblings grow and spent many holidays with you and your family. Would love to talk to you.

  5. I have a Richard Whorf painting c 1954 of 11th Street in Manhattan, looking toward 5th Avenue. It is signed and framed. My husband’s father was an actor and knew him professionally, but I believe there was a family friendship and a connection through the Lawrenceville School. Would most appreciate more information.

  6. I have several Richard Whorf paintings. Am interested in more and/or any info. Thanks 516 671 6515

  7. Richard Whorf was my grandfather and Peter Whorf my father. I have many paintings, watercolors, sketches of Richards work as well as negatives to perhaps all I his work. I would be willing to talk to anyone with an interest in his art.
    Wellesley Whorf

    1. Hi, Wellesley;

      Your grandfather was my great-grandfather’s brother. I have some works of each of them, and would love to catch up with you!

      -Phil Littlefield

  8. My uncle, the actor Elliott Reid, just died last Friday and when we were clearing out his stuff we saw that one of the paintings in his place was a Richard Whorf painting of the Paris cafe Le Dome. Quite lovely… I wonder if they knew each other; most likely…

  9. I have a Richard Whorf painting that he gave to my grandfather who also worked on the Beverly Hillbillies.

  10. I have a signed Richard Whorf painting of actress Shirley Booth. Shirley signed the back of it.

    1. Thats way fun. Where did you get it? I just have to imagine Shirley Booth, in between episodes of Hazel, sitting down for a portrait from Whorf.

  11. Does any one know what Richard Whorf’s paintings sell for now?

    thelma strickler

  12. Peter Whorf was Richard Whorf’s eldest son. His other sons were director David Whorf and Graphics Designer Christopher Whorf.

  13. I have 4 oil pintings of Richard Whorf Our families were friends Yes Peter Whorf ia Richard Whorfs son

  14. I own two small signed Richard Whorf watercolor paintings that I bought unknowingly at a thrift store in Palm Beach Florida. They were donated by his sister-in-law Helen O’Sullivan who wrote on the back of them that they were painted by Richard as Christmas cards to her and her husband. One is a movie set with the cowboy actors leaning against an old wooden building with the director with the old-time movie camera in the foreground, and the other is a Paris cafe street scene. Mrs. O’Sullivan wrote that he studied art in Paris and mailed them the painting from there. I paid approximately $60.00 for both of them and I absolutely adore them. I would love to know the value. Each painting is approximately 4″ high X 5″ wide. I would be happy to send photos upon request.

  15. Bought a Richard Whorf painting years ago..Picture of a home in the of estate “Magnolia” We were told the home belonged to Angela Landsbury’s mother…

    Any comments??
    thelma c. strickler

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