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The First Beverly Hillbilly


A warm and funny memoir written from a Midwestern perspective, Ruth Henning shares the story of her husband Paul’s rise from a scriptwriter on some of Kansas City’s earliest radio shows to the genius behind America’s beloved rural TV sitcoms and their lives together as part of Hollywood’s golden inner circle.

A talented country boy who was once given career advice by his neighbor Harry S Truman, Paul created one of the highest-rated TV series of all time—The Beverly Hillbillies. He wrote the show’s scripts as well as its iconic theme song. Paul also created Petticoat Junction in which their daughter Linda played Betty Jo Bradley, and he was the executive producer behind Green Acres. Paul’s other work included the Oscar-nominated Doris Day/Rock Hudson classic Lover Come Back and the 1980s hit Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Written posthumously with the support of the Henning children, Ruth’s loving tribute to her husband was rediscovered and championed by local book and history lovers decades after it was first written.

Purchase your copy from the Jackson County Historical Society:

Hard copy and Kindle versions are also available at

This book was published by Woodneath Press in 2017.

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