‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Donna Douglas Was Born Today in 1932: Remembering the Elly May Clampett Star

by Megan Molseed
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Actress Donna Douglas would be eighty-nine years old today. The iconic actress is probably best known for her role as the spirited animal-loving tomboy, Elly May Clampett, in the hit 1960’s sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies.

With her warm personality, down-home approach to life, and strikingly pleasing “all American Girl” good looks, Douglas’s Elly May Clampett has become a sort of good-girl/bombshell iconic symbol that many have tried to emulate over the years.

Douglas, who hails from Pride Louisiana first found fame when she won the Miss New Orleans contest in 1957. Not long after earning this crown, Douglas found her spot on the iconic CBS television series.

As she started out on The Beverly Hillbillies, Douglas was bringing in about $500 a week per episode. However, this number soon grew as show-runners realized what a hit the character was for audiences.

By the ninth and final season of The Beverly Hillbillies, Douglas was making as much as $3,000 per episode.

Along with her portrayal of Elly May Clampett, Donna Douglas has also appeared with Elvis Presley in the 1966 Elvis hit movie Frankie and Johnny.

‘Eye of the Beholder’

The Beverly Hillbillies actress also made waves portraying Janet Tyler in the classic Twilight Zone episode, “Eye of the Beholder.”

In this fan-favorite episode, Donna Douglas’s beauty that her Beverly Hillbillies character is so well-known for is perceived very differently. Douglas’s character, Janet Tyler, doesn’t have the looks considered to be “beautiful” in the Twilight Zone episode. In fact, her looks, which are classically striking to the audience, are seen as grotesque by the other players on the show. In the end, she goes off to join others who look like her in a special society while noting that beauty is in the “eye of the beholder.”

Elly May’s ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Clan

The hugely popular classic sitcom The Beverly Hillbilies follows the antics of the Clampett clan; a family who hailed from the Ozark Mountains, only to find themselves living it up after unexpectedly striking it rich.

After striking it rich with the oil discovery, the family packs up their meager belongings; with a plan to take off on a “move to Beverly – Hills, that is;” to begin their new life as millionaires among the abundant “swimmin’ pools and movie stars.”

The series also starred Buddy Epsen and the Clampett family patriarch, Jed Clampett; Irene Ryan as the cranky old “Granny;” and Max Baer Jr. as the boneheaded nephew to Jed, Jethro Bodine. Bodine may be slow-witted, but his heart is always in the right place.

The hilarious classic sitcom premiered in 1962; quickly finding a spot on CBS’s number one spot in its first two years on the air.

Douglas who portrayed the comely Elly May on the series during its entire run from 1962 until 1971, passed away in 2015 at the age of eighty-one.

While Douglas’s appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies began to wane in the series’s final seasons, the actress did reprise her famous role as Elly May Clampett in the 1981 made-for-television film The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies. 

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