By John Clise
Terry Wayne Sanders has been entertaining visitors to Branson, MO., for more than 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down even with a schedule that includes double digit jobs.
To be honest, like most comedic geniuses, you’d need a road map and a guide to keep with Terry as he makes his way through his day from appearance to appearance.
I first met Terry eight years ago at Silver Dollar City. The Christmas season had just kicked off. On that day he was portraying Clarence Peabody, one of Santa’s most trusted assistants.
On our walk-through Silver Dollar City, he greeted many fans, most of whom he remembered by name, and could recall the show they saw him in most recently. Terry remembered spouses, children, joys, and tragedies with guests to SDC. He is as genuine as he is funny.
Since that first meeting, I’ve seen him in many shows portraying many characters. We’ve participated in Muscular Dystrophy Association events. Along the way, we have become dear friends. He’s an amazing entertainer, and an even more amazing person.
There’s no shortage to his humorous verbal quips and down to earth demeanor as he meets and greets folks at his shows, and in public.
Terry says being an entertainer has been the only thing he’s ever wanted to do in his life and is blessed to have been able to entertain others as his career.
“I am grateful, thankful, and blessed to be in the entertainment capital of the world,” he said with great enthusiasm.
Terry isn’t afraid to work either, noting that he never takes a day for granted.
The best thing he said about being a performer in Branson is being able to work seven days a week.
“It’s two-fold,” he said. I am performing seven days/nights a week. I have friends who went to New York City and Los Angeles after college and are working here and there, but waiting tables. I am working seven days a week.”
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “I am where I want to be by design.”
Getting down to business, Terry, who hails from Mountain Grove, MO., has no problem with people calling him the “Face of Branson,” and is more than willing to do all he can to spread the good news about this entertainment capitol in southwestern Missouri.
The list of characters he portrays is a lengthy one, and includes G’ma Beulah, Terry the Tour Guide, Deputy Birdy, Fred Smoot, Joan Rivers, Barney Fife, Ada Mae, and Homer Lee along with so many others.
Entertaining with a wide range of characters has afforded Terry the opportunity to work with the likes of Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and the late Bob Hope among so many others.
He was even seen for a season on Hee-Haw with Roy Clark, Minnie Pearl and the cast of many others.
When asked how the experience was on Hee-Haw, he had a quick one-word answer. “Wonderful.”
“Everyone treated me great on the show. Especially Roy Clark,” he said of his time on Hee-Haw.
In addition to his gigs at Silver Dollar City, Big Cedar Lodge, The Vacation Channel, the Baker Creek Seed Company, and Shepherd of the Hills play, you can also find him as the funny man of C.J. Newsom’s Classic Country & Comedy Show.
C.J. Newsom’s Classic Country & Comedy features critically-acclaimed vocalist, C.J. Newsom and Michael Jason Frost along with The Re-Cliners Band and, of course, ten-time comedian of the year, Terry Wayne Sanders at the Americana Theatre.
This is Terry’s 20th anniversary to perform in America’s largest outdoor play Shepherd of the Hills. Not only can you see Terry, you can also see his son, Evan James Sanders perform there. On some nights, if you are lucky enough to catch the show, Terry and Evan play the same character, Ollie Stewart. Just a few years apart.
Terry is in his second year of his ‘Taco Tuesday Facebook live for Little Hacienda at 11 a.m. (Branson time) starting in Hollister, MO, then Branson, then The Shady Taco at Still Waters Resort, and ending up at Bino’s Ice Cream & Coffee Shop. Taco Tuesday offers of glimpse into the life and times of the area’s best Mexican places, as well as current events and goings on in Branson courtesy of Terry.
Terry’s career has spanned 42 years, and included many honors including being named Branson’s favorite comedian 10 times, including 2021.
“Thank you again to Mr. Terry Beene, Chuck Hancock, Rick McEwen, Kelly Roberts, Natalie Houseman, and ‘Joan of the Ozarks *’ for this honor of ‘Comedian of the Year’ ~ 2021! I am grateful, thankful & blessed to be where I am & to work in such an amazing town filled with talented people and tourists who come here to enjoy live entertainment! God bless us all!”
Over the past couple of years, Terry and his wife Dede transformed a rental property into a very popular B&B in the Branson area.
“My wife, Dede, and I have converted an original 1909 Branson, MO. farmhouse into an Airbnb called ‘Grandma Beulah’s’ based on one of my characters,” he said. “It’s beautiful, fully renovated, with all the modern amenities. It has two bedrooms; one bath; a full kitchen, living room; a spacious front yard; a private back yard with a patio; a gas grill; and a fire pit.”
Click here to learn more about Grandma Beulah’s.
According to Terry, with your stay you get all sorts of ‘extras’ including a hand-written note from G’ma B herself and a bottle of her wine.
“You really need to come for a visit because we do have such a variety of entertainment and activities here,” Terry said.
Branson has been changing and evolving over the past few years by appealing to a younger crowd through new attractions such as zip lines, younger performers who have been seen on national talent shows, as well as showcasing attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Hollywood Wax Museum, and many other new entertainment options, along with many of the old favorites.