Donna Douglas will be forever beloved for playing Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but her life was much more than this one role. Before, during, and after her Hollywood career, she was a devout Christian and was true to her faith and principles.
Douglas spoke with Alan Mercer in 2013 about how her faith sustained her when she first moved to New York City to be a model. “I made a commitment between me and God.” She added, “I was very simple and I loved Jesus. I believed with all my heart that if I did the best I could do, God would take care of me.”
From Louisiana to Hollywood
Douglas was born in Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana and raised as a tomboy, fishing with her dad, and the only girl among all her cousins. She told Mercer, “See, I was getting ready for Jethro long before I ever met him!”
After a stint in New York before moving to Los Angeles, Douglas eventually landed on “The Beverly Hillbillies” and the rest was history. These were heady times, especially for a girl with no formal acting training, because it was the number one show on television for two of its nine seasons.
“God wants to see if what you say with your mouth, you mean with your heart. Anybody can talk it, but can you walk your talk? I didn’t have a background in acting, dancing or singing,” Douglas said. “When God sees that you mean what you say and you really are going to walk your talk, he takes over your life.”
The girl from Baton Rouge was now a star, and Douglas began hobnobbing with the famous and powerful. This included starring in “Frankie and Johnny” with Elvis Presley and watching golf with former President Dwight Eisenhower.
A Legacy of Faith
Douglas’ beliefs sustained her before and during “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and the same was true for life after acting. Despite periodic guest roles on television shows, she concentrated her efforts on bringing her Christian faith to others.
She explained: “My understanding has expanded. I don’t speak so much as religion but more as a commitment. I’m a Christian but I don’t have a particular label. I speak at all kinds of different churches. I love doing this. People always tell me they loved me as Elly, but they love what I’m doing now.”
Douglas frequently spoke to church youth groups, recorded several gospel albums, and wrote inspirational children’s books. In the 2013 interview below, she discusses the impact faith had on her life and how it let her help others.
Selling your soul to achieve fame and fortune is an old story. Douglas is proof, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. By remaining true to her Christian faith, she is an example of how to live a righteous life in and out of the public eye.