Paul Henning

Show Creator / Writer/ Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Paul Henning (1911-2005) describes working as a writer in radio - for Fibber McGee and Molly and for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. He talks of transitioning to the televised version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and how writing for television differed from writing for radio. He recalls writing for The Ray Bolger Show and The Rudy Vallee Show, and getting a chance to produce and create a program with The Dennis Day Show. Henning then details creating/producing the three rural comedies for which he's best known: The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. He describes casting the shows, which programs he had the most involvement with and how he felt when the shows were cancelled. Bob Claster conducted the interview on September 3, 1997 in Toluca Lake, CA.

"Television depends on characters and on people liking those characters and wanting them to visit in their house again. It's an easy thing to click a switch and change channels, so you have to hope that your characters become friends of the people watching. Our characters did."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Paul Henning on the idea for The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his interest in hillbillies and rural comedies
Paul Henning on coming up with the title for The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on Jim Aubrey offering him a chance for a third series, which became Green Acres
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his love of singing and wanting to be on the radio; on loving to read and appearing on experimental television in 1929
On the 1939 World's Fair and the Great Depression; on getting a job at a Kansas City radio station and pursuing a career as a writer

Chapter 2

On meeting his future wife at the radio station; on writing a spec script for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly; on seriously considering a career as a writer
On writing for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly; on getting a job writing for Joe E. Brown

Chapter 3

On enjoying writing comedy; on writing for the radio version of The Rudy Valle Show; on World War II
On writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show; on the show moving to Hollywood from New York

Chapter 4

On cast changes on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen
On wanting to become a producer; on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show; on producing and writing for The Ray Bolger Show
On creating and writing for The Bob Cummings Show; on writing two episodes for The Real McCoys; on writing an episode of The Andy Griffith Show and his interest in hillbillies and rural comedies

Chapter 5

On writing films with Stanley Shapiro for Universal: "Lover Come Back", "Bedtime Story"; on being lured back to television by Al Simon
On creating and casting The Beverly Hillbillies

Chapter 6

On the pilot episode, promotions of, and production on The Beverly Hillbillies; on the show's huge ratings; on high rated episodes of The Beverly Hillbillie s occurring shortly after JFK's assassination; on the show's critics
On ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies; on shifting from black and white to color; on lawsuits the show faced
On his writing philosophy of placing characters above jokes; on his favorite episode of The Beverly Hillbillies; on the origins of Petticoat Junction

Chapter 7

On creating and producing Petticoat Junction; on working with his daughter Linda on the show; on his favorite episode; on balancing two hit shows on the air
On creating and producing Green Acres; on casting the series 
On the cancellation of Petticoat Junction; on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction

Chapter 8

On the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres; on health problems at the time and retiring from television; on writing movies and 1981's Return of the Beverly Hillbillies
On 1991's Green Acres reunion movie; on having no involvement with 1995's The Beverly Hillbillies movie; on the remake of "Bedtime Story" called "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"; on winning the Paddy Chayefsky WGA Award
On his proudest moments and career regrets; on the enduring popularity of his shows; on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked

Chapter 9

On B-roll photos from his career: cast photos from The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction; on family photos
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on Sheldon Leonard asking him to write an episode of The Andy Griffith Show

Beverly Hillbillies, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on creating The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on creating the characters of and casting The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on shooting the pilot and early production on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on producing, promoting, and audience reaction to The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the writing process, a typical production week, and the laugh track on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on color production, legal aspects, and his writing philosophy on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres  
Paul Henning on writing 1981's Return of the Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on having no involvement with 1995's The Beverly Hillbillies movie
Paul Henning on a picture with writers and the cast from The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction

Bob Cummings Show, The aka Love That Bob

View Show Page
Paul Henning on creating and writing for The Bob Cummings Show

Dennis Day Show. The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show
Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show

Fibber McGee and Molly

View Show Page
Paul Henning on writing a spec script for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly
Paul Henning on writing for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on writing for the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen
Paul Henning on the monitor gimmick on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  

Green Acres

View Show Page
Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres  
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction

New Bob Cummings Show, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on a picture of Bob Cummings from The Bob Cummings Show

Petticoat Junction

View Show Page
Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on the premise of and casting on Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on the cancellation of Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on hearing of the cancellation of Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction

Ray Bolger Show, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on producing and writing for The Ray Bolger Show

Real McCoys, The

View Show Page
Paul Henning on writing two episodes for The Real McCoys
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies

Health and Medicine

View Topic
Producer Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Paul Henning on recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Paul Henning on recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
Paul Henning on high rated episodes of The Beverly Hillbillie s occurring shortly after JFK's assassination 

Pop Culture

View Topic
Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Paul Henning on appearing on experimental television in 1929
Paul Henning on shifting from black and white to color on The Beverly Hillbillie s

World War II

View Topic
Paul Henning on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show during World War II
Professions

Producers

View Profession
Paul Henning on wanting to become a producer

Show Creators

View Profession
Paul Henning on the writing process for The Beverly Hillbillies

Writers

View Profession
Paul Henning on getting a job at a Kansas City radio station and pursuing a career as a writer
Paul Henning on beginning to seriously consider a career in writing
Paul Henning on differences between writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  
Paul Henning on the writing process for the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  
Paul Henning on his writing philosophy of placing characters above jokes
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen
Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show
Paul Henning on creating and casting The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
Producer Paul Henning on production of and promotions for The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on the premise of and casting on Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres

Commercials

View Genre
Producer Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies
People

Eddie Albert

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Eddie Albert on Green Acres
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie

Fred Allen

View Person Page
Paul Henning on getting to know Fred Allen

Gracie Allen

View Person Page
Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen; on Gracie Allen's talent and the love between her and George Burns
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Gracie Allen

Cliff Arquette

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Cliff Arquette on The Dennis Day Show

James T. Aubrey

View Person Page
Paul Henning on CBS' Jim Aubrey immediately picking up The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on Jim Aubrey offering him a chance for a third series, which became Green Acres
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Jim Aubrey

Max Baer

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Max Baer as "Jethro Bodine" on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Max Baer
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Buddy Ebsen and Max Baer

Bea Benaderet

View Person Page
Paul Henning on Bea Benaderet starring in Petticoat Junction
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Bea Benaderet
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Bea Benaderet and Buddy Ebsen

Ray Bolger

View Person Page
Paul Henning on working with Ray Bolger on The Ray Bolger Show

Joe E. Brown

View Person Page
Paul Henning on getting a job writing for Joe E. Brown

George Burns

View Person Page
Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on how George Burns came into his own on the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen; on Gracie Allen's talent and the love between her and George Burns
Paul Henning on George Burns' company co-producing The Bob Cummings Show  
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - George Burns
Paul Henning on a picture of him and his wife with George Burns 

Abe Burrows

View Person Page
Paul Henning on working with Abe Burrows on The Rudy Valle Show  

Bob Cummings

View Person Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Bob Cummings
Paul Henning on a picture of Bob Cummings from The Bob Cummings Show

Michael Dann

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Michael Dann

Ann B. Davis

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ann B. Davis

Dennis Day

View Person Page
Paul Henning on working with Dennis Day on The Dennis Day Show

Donna Douglas

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Donna Douglas as "Elly May Clampett" on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Donna Douglas

Buddy Ebsen

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Buddy Ebsen on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Buddy Ebsen
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Buddy Ebsen and Max Baer
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Bea Benaderet and Buddy Ebsen

Bob Fosse

View Person Page
Paul Henning on Bob Fosse performing on the live television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Eva Gabor

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Eva Gabor on Green Acres
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Eva Gabor

Dwayne Hickman

View Person Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Dwayne Hickman

John F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Paul Henning on high rated episodes of The Beverly Hillbillie s occurring shortly after JFK's assassination 

Nancy Kulp

View Person Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Nancy Kulp

Sheldon Leonard

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on Sheldon Leonard asking him to write an episode of The Andy Griffith Show

Ralph Levy

View Person Page
Paul Henning on working with director Ralph Levy on the live television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ralph Levy

Vic Mizzy

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Paul Henning on believing that Bill Paley did not like The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - William S. Paley

John Rich

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on working with director John Rich on The Dennis Day Show

Irene Ryan

View Person Page
Paul Henning on casting Irene Ryan as "Granny" on The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Irene Ryan

Al Simon

View Person Page
Paul Henning on being lured back to television by Al Simon and creating The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on Al Simon predicting the success of The Beverly Hillbillies
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Al Simon

Jay Sommers

View Person Page
Paul Henning on Jay Sommers' idea for Green Acres and Henning producing the series
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Jay Sommers

Sharon Tate

View Person Page
Paul Henning on Sharon Tate being considered for one of the daughters on Petticoat Junction

Danny Thomas

View Person Page
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Danny Thomas

Harry S. Truman

View Person Page
Paul Henning on attending law classes at night at the recommendation of Harry S. Truman

Bob Weiskopf

View Interview Page
Paul Henning on getting to know Fred Allen

All Interviews

Q
S