Harry Truman advised The Beverly Hillbillies creator, Paul Henning, to go into politics

You know, the name Paul Henning does have a nice presidential ring to it.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

If Paul Henning had listened to the advice of late President Harry S. Truman, he wouldn't have become one of the country's top comedy writers. He might've run for president instead of for the hills every time he had a new idea.

Henning may have never actually run for office, but he did literally head to the hills for inspiration for his hit series, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).

Show business and politics are kind of similar when you think about it; Both careers involve facing tough criticism, pitching new ideas and constantly being in the spotlight — even when they just want to be alone.

With that logic, and with all of Henning's successful years in Hollywood, he would've made a great U.S. Senator.

According to a 1963 interview with Longview Daily News, Truman was quite a few years away from his future presidency when he tried to convince a young Henning to go into politics.

At the time, Truman was sitting on a bench in a courtroom in he and Henning's hometown of Independence, MO. Henning was studying law when their paths crossed. The advice that was given? Henning never said, but he did say he considered the career field after Truman's advice.

Henning put the advice in his back pocket and got a job singing at a Kansas City radio station — a job that was supposed to help finance his law school studies — but ultimately became his new career path. 

"I like to think that Mr. Truman isn't mad at me for not taking his advice," Henning said. "I took my kids to the Truman Library, and by one of those coincidences, Mr. Truman was in town and at the library that day."

"It was gratifying enough to be remembered, but it was slightly staggering to hear him say, 'Your father is an old, dear friend of mine.' So I figure he's not peeved I never made the White House."

It's a good thing he didn't make it to the White House because chances are no one else in the country would have thought to write about a bunch of country folk in a Beverly Hills mansion... only Henning could think of that kind of content.

According to the interview, Henning had the idea for the series in his head for years before finally writing it. In fact, the idea was inspired from hiking and camping in "hillbilly country" as a boy.

"I came to know and then genuinely love the simple, good-hearted mountain folk I met, and I knew that someday I would write about them and all the warmth and humor that are characteristically theirs. Someday is now," Henning said. 

So, maybe he never made it to the White House, but he did make it to thousands of households per week. His success was rare — even as rare as becoming a president!

Watch The Beverly Hillbillies on MeTV!

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4 Comments

Snickers 6 months ago
Maybe he could have had Jethro run as his vice president running mate.
cperrynaples 6 months ago
Fun fact: The reason the jackrabbit episode rated so high is because it ran AFTER LBJ's first State of the Union speech!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 6 months ago
Quick Question: Is that Lady Bird Johnson in that photo?
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