March 25, 2005 by

Paul Henning


Categories: Hollywood, Writers/Editors

phenning.jpgPaul Henning, the screenwriter who created “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Petticoat Junction,” died on March 25 of natural causes. He was 93.
The Missouri native was the youngest of 10 children. Born on a farm and raised in Independence, he was working at the local drugstore when a county official named Harry S. Truman advised him to seek a career as a lawyer. Truman later became president of the United States.
Henning graduated from Kansas City School of Law, but decided against working in the legal field. Instead, he took a job at KMBC radio in Kansas City and became a radio writer. Henning contributed to several programs, including “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.” He then moved to Hollywood, landed an agent and began working in the new medium of television. From 1955 to 1961, Henning wrote and/or produced episodes of “The Bob Cummings Show,” “Love That Bob,” “The Real McCoys,” “Ford Startime” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Henning’s first original program, “The Beverly Hillbillies,” debuted on CBS in 1962. The series, which starred Buddy Ebsen as a poor mountaineer who strikes it rich and moves his eccentric family to California, was based on Henning’s encounters with people he had met in the Ozarks as a child. Henning penned the words and music to “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song to the show, as well. “The Beverly Hillbillies” shot to No. 1 within three weeks of its debut; the comedy continued to reside in the top 20 until its cancellation in 1971. A feature film adaptation was produced two decades later.
Henning later created the “Hillbillies” spin-off, “Petticoat Junction,” and helped cast and produce the rural comedy, “Green Acres.” He also co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay, “Lover Come Back,” (1961) with Stanley Shapiro.
The Ballad of Jed Clampett Download “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”

4 Responses to Paul Henning

  1. Mary Gridley

    I loved this man and his work. He always has and always will be my favorite screen writer of all time.God Bless your soul,Mr. Henning.

  2. Jon Howard

    I never missed an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies or Petticoat Junction growing up. They were happy shows in a simpler time. If only life could be like that. CBS hasn’t done anything right since then. CBS

  3. John

    I have discovered who the real Granny Clampett is and where the real Shady Rest Hotel is located that inspired Paul Henning to his two greatest TV shows. I am in the process of having the hotel registered as a state historical site. After that, I am planning to open it up as a touring site so people can come and visit this magnificant structure. Where is it?? Deep in the Ozark Mountains only accessably by the M&NA train. C&FW train on the Petticoat Junction movie. The water tank the kids really swam in is still in place exactly like the TV show. Plus, there are no roads to this hotel. Only the long abandond train tracks. It’s currently on private property. If anyone wants details, just email me. Plans are to invite Linda Kaye Henning to a dedication ceremony when we have this hotel officially registered.

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