Donna Douglas played the comely tomboy Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The CBS sitcom featured the shenanigans of the Clampett clan, a family from the Ozark Mountains who found riches after a discovery of oil on the family land.
Elly May had a special fondness for animals, always costarring with at least one unique creature – from chimps to hippos – per episode during the show’s nine-season run.
During a rare interview with Douglas, the actress who plays the only daughter of Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), the “Beverly Hillbillies” star described how she felt her interactions with fans were normal compared to the interactions other stars may have had.
“I mean, I go everywhere and people come up to me and they talk to me, but it’s normal,” Donna Douglas told WAFB 9 in a 2009 interview.
“It’s not built into a lot of this star stuff,” the actress continued. “It’s so wonderful just to be ordinary folks with ordinary people, ‘cuz that’s the way I am.”
Donna Douglas Was Similar to Her “Beverly Hillbillies” Character
The actress went on to note that she is very similar to her on-screen counterpart. Douglas even offered to ride a John Deere tractor for the report.
Like her on-screen character, Donna Douglas was the only girl in a family of boys. Douglas had one older brother, as well as boy cousins. Elly May Clampett’s love of animals was also a commonality the character shared with the actress.
“The Beverly Hillbillies” premiered in 1962. The show featured the adventures of the Clampett family who set off to move to Beverly (Hills, that is) after the discovery of oil on their Ozark property. The now well-to-do family of millionaires makes a home amongst the movie stars. While the Clampett’s may have the funds to make it in Beverly Hills, their “Hillbilly” ways often set them apart from their snooty neighbors.
The Clampetts Are a Close Kin
The Clampett’s are headed by Elly May’s father, Jed. Full of common sense, but little formal education, Jed is often the voice of reason for the crew as their antics take them through a variety of adventures.
Jed Clampett’s mother-in-law Daisy May Moses (Granny) is played by Irene Ryan. She is often quick to react to a situation, but Jed is usually close by to defuse the situation. Granny is the epitome of a mountain woman. She is a self-declared “Mountain Doctor” (M.D.) using a variety of potions or archaic techniques such as leeches for her treatments.
Elly May’s cousin, Jethro Bodine (Max Baer) is the son of Jed’s cousin, Pearl. Jethro escorted Jed, Granny, and Elly May to their new home in Beverly Hills. The cousin ended up staying in the mansion with the intention of furthering his education. He spends much of the series trying out a variety of professions. Most of which he selects with the purpose of “meeting pretty girls.”
When the show premiered in 1962, it was an instant hit. Fans couldn’t get enough of the “Beverly Hillbillies” Clampett family.
“Our show hit number one the second week,” Douglas said. “We were number one on national television for two solid years.”
Donna Douglas passed away in 2015 at the age of 81.