Memories of a boyhood camping trip in the Ozarks inspired TV writer Paul Henning to create the 1960s sitcom, the “Beverly Hillbillies.” Several episodes about the Clampett family’s return to their home in the Ozarks were filmed at Silver Dollar City, Branson’s theme park. The original “Beverly Hillbillies” car is on display at the Ralph Foster Museum at the College of the Ozarks.
The Ozarks also inspired Harold Bell Wright to author his story of mountain folklore, The Shepherd of the Hills. For health reasons, Wright spent eight summers camping in an area west of present-day Branson, and the characters in his book are modeled after the people he encountered. Published in 1907, the story of love, revenge, forgiveness and redemption became a best seller. John Wayne starred in the 1941 film based on the novel. The story took to the stage in Branson in 1960. Today, tens of thousands of people attend the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama. The production uses more than 80 actors, 40 horses, a flock of sheep, a burning log cabin and a vintage 1908 DeWitt automobile to tell the story. In 2010 the production celebrated its 50th anniversary.