JCHS helps publish new book about Paul Henning the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies

The Jackson County Historical Society has been instrumental in the publication of a new memoir about Paul Henning - the Kansas City-area native who was the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies.

The 280-page page, The First Beverly Hillbilly: The Untold Story of the Creator of Rural TV Comedy is based on an unpublished manuscript by Henning's wife Ruth which was found in our archives.

The book shares Henning’s amazing life - working in early Kansas City radio, writing for celebrities and creating the widely popular television shows Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

Books are available for purchase at the Jackson County Historical Society bookshop in the Truman Courthouse or online at a special website for this project.

The manuscript, completed in 1994 was never published, but later was found in the Jackson County Historical Society archives among the papers of local historian and journalist Sue Gentry and a friend of the Hennings.

The book is a cooperative publishing project between the Woodneath Press, an imprint of the Mid-Continent Public Library and the Jackson County Historical Society.

The back story

Paul Henning was an Independence native and a pioneer in early television.

In 2015, we rediscovered an unpublished manuscript about Henning's life written in the early 1990s by his wife Ruth.

A copy of the manuscript was mailed to Sue Gentry - a Henning friend and local journalist/historian - where it was later rediscovered among papers Gentry left to the historical society.

The manuscript contained a cover letter to Gentry from Ruth Henning which concluded:

"Thank you for being on my side about this book. I really believe one day it will find a publisher."

And that what has happened.

Working with the Mid Continent Public Library and its Woodneath Press, the manuscript is being published under the title The First Beverly Hillbilly: The Untold Story of the Creator of Rural TV Comedy.

JCHS is gathering up additional information about the life, career and impact of Henning and sharing that information about a special website devoted to Henning which we intend to develop and share additional information.

Here's one example:

Henning wanted to be a singer and started his entertainment career at Kansas City radio station KMBZ singing and writing.

Watch Henning sing "Stardust" from an early promo video found at the Marr Sound Archives on the campus of University of Missouri-Kansas City.