Paul Henning

Show Creator / Writer/ Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

Highlights
Paul Henning on the idea for The Beverly Hillbillies
06:36
Paul Henning on his interest in hillbillies and rural comedies
01:12
Paul Henning on coming up with the title for The Beverly Hillbillies
00:40
Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
01:59
Paul Henning on Jim Aubrey offering him a chance for a third series, which became Green Acres
02:08
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
17:20
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
11:41

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
16:21
On writing for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly; on getting a job writing for Joe E. Brown
10:17

Chapter 3

On enjoying writing comedy; on writing for the radio version of The Rudy Valle Show; on World War II
09:06
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
19:43

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
06:33
On wanting to become a producer; on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show; on producing and writing for The Ray Bolger Show
11:19
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
10:51

Chapter 5

On writing films with Stanley Shapiro for Universal: "Lover Come Back", "Bedtime Story"; on being lured back to television by Al Simon
06:02
On creating and casting The Beverly Hillbillies
22:43

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
16:06
On ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies; on shifting from black and white to color; on lawsuits the show faced
06:06
On his writing philosophy of placing characters above jokes; on his favorite episode of The Beverly Hillbillies; on the origins of Petticoat Junction
06:37

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
12:00
On creating and producing Green Acres; on casting the series 
05:48
On the cancellation of Petticoat Junction; on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
07:29

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
08:27
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
03:47
On his proudest moments and career regrets; on the enduring popularity of his shows; on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked
16:33

Chapter 9

On B-roll photos from his career: cast photos from The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction; on family photos
13:24
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Paul Henning on Sheldon Leonard asking him to write an episode of The Andy Griffith Show
01:55

Beverly Hillbillies, The

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Paul Henning on creating The Beverly Hillbillies
09:08
Paul Henning on creating the characters of and casting The Beverly Hillbillies
10:26
Paul Henning on shooting the pilot and early production on The Beverly Hillbillies
03:09
Paul Henning on producing, promoting, and audience reaction to The Beverly Hillbillies
08:13
Paul Henning on the writing process, a typical production week, and the laugh track on The Beverly Hillbillies
07:53
Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies
01:56
Paul Henning on color production, legal aspects, and his writing philosophy on The Beverly Hillbillies
08:48
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30
Paul Henning on the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres  
01:27
Paul Henning on writing 1981's Return of the Beverly Hillbillies
01:35
Paul Henning on having no involvement with 1995's The Beverly Hillbillies movie
00:53
Paul Henning on a picture with writers and the cast from The Beverly Hillbillies
01:21
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction
03:59

Bob Cummings Show, The aka Love That Bob

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Paul Henning on creating and writing for The Bob Cummings Show
06:28

Dennis Day Show. The

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Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show
00:51
Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show
06:26

Fibber McGee and Molly

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Paul Henning on writing a spec script for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly
01:22
Paul Henning on writing for radio's Fibber McGee and Molly
04:57

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

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Paul Henning on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
07:22
Paul Henning on writing for the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
12:21
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen
03:52
Paul Henning on the monitor gimmick on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  
00:37

Green Acres

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Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres
05:48
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30
Paul Henning on the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres  
01:27
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
01:13
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction
03:59

New Bob Cummings Show, The

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Paul Henning on a picture of Bob Cummings from The Bob Cummings Show
00:58

Petticoat Junction

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Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
01:59
Paul Henning on the premise of and casting on Petticoat Junction
12:00
Paul Henning on the cancellation of Petticoat Junction
00:51
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30
Paul Henning on hearing of the cancellation of Petticoat Junction
00:34
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction
03:59

Ray Bolger Show, The

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Paul Henning on producing and writing for The Ray Bolger Show
02:00

Real McCoys, The

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Paul Henning on writing two episodes for The Real McCoys
01:48
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies
01:55

Health and Medicine

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Producer Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies
01:56

Hollywood Blacklist

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Paul Henning on recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist
01:35

Industry Crossroads

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Paul Henning on recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist
01:35

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Paul Henning on high rated episodes of The Beverly Hillbillie s occurring shortly after JFK's assassination 
01:45

Pop Culture

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Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies
01:55
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30

TV Theme Songs

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Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30

Technological Innovation

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Paul Henning on appearing on experimental television in 1929
02:26
Paul Henning on shifting from black and white to color on The Beverly Hillbillie s
02:55

World War II

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Paul Henning on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show during World War II
01:17
Professions

Producers

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Paul Henning on wanting to become a producer
09:19

Show Creators

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Paul Henning on the writing process for The Beverly Hillbillies
03:12

Writers

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Paul Henning on getting a job at a Kansas City radio station and pursuing a career as a writer
04:35
Paul Henning on beginning to seriously consider a career in writing
05:13
Paul Henning on differences between writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  
00:32
Paul Henning on the writing process for the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  
01:26
Paul Henning on his writing philosophy of placing characters above jokes
01:13
Genres

Comedy Series

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Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
19:43
Paul Henning on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show moving to film to lessen the load on Gracie Allen
03:51
Paul Henning on producing and creating The Dennis Day Show
06:26
Paul Henning on creating and casting The Beverly Hillbillies
22:43
Paul Henning on the origins of Petticoat Junction
01:59
Producer Paul Henning on production of and promotions for The Beverly Hillbillies
26:50
Paul Henning on the premise of and casting on Petticoat Junction
12:00
Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres
05:48

Commercials

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Producer Paul Henning on ending cigarette ads on The Beverly Hillbillies
01:56
People

Eddie Albert

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Paul Henning on casting Eddie Albert on Green Acres
00:21
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
01:13

Fred Allen

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Paul Henning on getting to know Fred Allen
01:22

Gracie Allen

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Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
19:43
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
03:42
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Gracie Allen
01:26

Cliff Arquette

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Paul Henning on casting Cliff Arquette on The Dennis Day Show
00:38

James T. Aubrey

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Paul Henning on CBS' Jim Aubrey immediately picking up The Beverly Hillbillies
02:15
Paul Henning on Jim Aubrey offering him a chance for a third series, which became Green Acres
02:08
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Jim Aubrey
00:28

Max Baer

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Paul Henning on casting Max Baer as "Jethro Bodine" on The Beverly Hillbillies
01:16
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Max Baer
01:43
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Buddy Ebsen and Max Baer
00:05

Bea Benaderet

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Paul Henning on Bea Benaderet starring in Petticoat Junction
00:13
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Bea Benaderet
00:25
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Bea Benaderet and Buddy Ebsen
00:24

Ray Bolger

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Paul Henning on working with Ray Bolger on The Ray Bolger Show
00:54

Joe E. Brown

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Paul Henning on getting a job writing for Joe E. Brown
03:52

George Burns

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Paul Henning on writing for the radio and television versions of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
19:43
Paul Henning on how George Burns came into his own on the television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
01:20
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
03:42
Paul Henning on George Burns' company co-producing The Bob Cummings Show  
00:56
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - George Burns
00:31
Paul Henning on a picture of him and his wife with George Burns 
01:16

Abe Burrows

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Paul Henning on working with Abe Burrows on The Rudy Valle Show  
00:23

Bob Cummings

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Bob Cummings
00:32
Paul Henning on a picture of Bob Cummings from The Bob Cummings Show
00:58

Michael Dann

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Michael Dann
00:10

Ann B. Davis

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ann B. Davis
00:30

Dennis Day

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Paul Henning on working with Dennis Day on The Dennis Day Show
02:52

Donna Douglas

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Paul Henning on casting Donna Douglas as "Elly May Clampett" on The Beverly Hillbillies
00:47
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Donna Douglas
00:52

Buddy Ebsen

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Paul Henning on casting Buddy Ebsen on The Beverly Hillbillies
01:01
Paul Henning on Buddy Ebsen agreeing to star as "Jed Clampett" in The Beverly Hillbillies
01:55
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Buddy Ebsen
00:22
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Buddy Ebsen and Max Baer
00:26
Paul Henning on a picture of him with Bea Benaderet and Buddy Ebsen
00:24

Bob Fosse

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Paul Henning on Bob Fosse performing on the live television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
00:26

Eva Gabor

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Paul Henning on casting Eva Gabor on Green Acres
01:47
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
01:13
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Eva Gabor
00:16

Dwayne Hickman

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Dwayne Hickman
00:32

John F. Kennedy

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Paul Henning on high rated episodes of The Beverly Hillbillie s occurring shortly after JFK's assassination 
01:45

Nancy Kulp

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Nancy Kulp
00:35

Sheldon Leonard

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Paul Henning on Sheldon Leonard asking him to write an episode of The Andy Griffith Show
01:55

Ralph Levy

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Paul Henning on working with director Ralph Levy on the live television version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
01:17
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ralph Levy
00:08

Vic Mizzy

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Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
02:51

William S. Paley

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Paul Henning on believing that Bill Paley did not like The Beverly Hillbillies
00:53
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - William S. Paley
00:19

John Rich

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Paul Henning on working with director John Rich on The Dennis Day Show
00:30

Irene Ryan

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Paul Henning on casting Irene Ryan as "Granny" on The Beverly Hillbillies
02:01
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Irene Ryan
00:41

Al Simon

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Paul Henning on being lured back to television by Al Simon and creating The Beverly Hillbillies
09:08
Paul Henning on Al Simon predicting the success of The Beverly Hillbillies
00:30
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Al Simon
00:20

Jay Sommers

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Paul Henning on Jay Sommers' idea for Green Acres and Henning producing the series
05:48
Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Jay Sommers
00:37

Sharon Tate

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Paul Henning on Sharon Tate being considered for one of the daughters on Petticoat Junction
01:24

Danny Thomas

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Paul Henning on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Danny Thomas
00:11

Harry S. Truman

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Paul Henning on attending law classes at night at the recommendation of Harry S. Truman
01:11

Bob Weiskopf

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Paul Henning on getting to know Fred Allen
01:22

All Interviews

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