I'm certain everyone is familiar with Branson, Missouri and all of the nice attractions of the city. However, were you aware that the area played a part in one of the most popular television series of all time?
The story begins in Independence, Missouri, the hometown of Paul Henning. Paul received some advice from future President Harry Truman to attend law school, which he did, but his heart led him elsewhere. He took a job playing live music on KMBC radio in Kansas City, and then began writing dialogue for the air space between the songs. The writing became his profession.
Eventually, Henning began writing for radio staples such as "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "The Burns and Allen Show." He moved into television writing for, among others, "The Andy Griffith Show." However, it was Boy Scout trips to the Missouri Ozarks that launched one of the most successful situation-comedies of all time, "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Thinking back to his Boy Scout trips near Branson, Henning developed the plot for "The Beverly Hillbillies" which first aired in 1962. Some of the first shows were actually filmed in Branson. The idea of moving a backwoods family to the "big city" hit a cord with the American public and the series ran until 1971. Rural-based comedies genre became extremely popular and populated much the airwaves during the 1960s. Success led to success.
The widespread popularity of "The Beverly Hillbillies" prompted a CBS offer to Henning to write a spin-off comedy series. The new series became "Petticoat Junction." The series was based on his wife's family-owned hotel in Eldon, Missouri where she and her cousins spent time together. The second series gave a regular role to their daughter Linda Kaye (Henning) as Betty Jo Bradley (the redhead).
Henning also wrote the music for "The Beverly Hillbillies." "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" opened and closed the famous television series with its banjo picking and story of how the Clampett family came to be in neighborhood of the beautiful people. If you would like to see the original writer sing his tribute to the rollicking family from the hills, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j0EWzRk9V0 (it is amazing what you find on YouTube!).
Paul and Ruth Henning left over 1500 acres near Branson to the State of Missouri as a conservation area. The two lived out their lives in California. Ruth died in 2002 and Paul followed in 2005.