Friday, January 02, 2015

Obituary: Donna Douglas

Actress Donna Douglas, 81, a fixture of television and movies throughout the fifties and sixties, but achieved her greatest fame as "Elly May Clampett" in the popular sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, has died.

She was known for her great beauty, but not only that, she was a very nice person. She was deeply religious, and she made many appearances on religious shows like PTL. She had been a single parent and turned to acting to pay the bills.

She did have her parents take care of her son while she pursued an acting career.

During the 1960s, Douglas appeared in at least one film with fellow southerner Elvis Presley. Apparently she fell in love with him, but he regarded her as a good friend, talking for many hours with her about religion and other topics. She fell into a depression following this. Douglas would never talk about her relationship with Presley, and I am making a conjecture here that she must have found out he had Priscilla Beaulieu locked up at Graceland. Considering the film Frankie and Johnny was made a year or so before he married Priscilla, it seems to be a logical explanation.

As readers know, I couldn't stand The Beverly Hillbillies as an adult, but I always thought the actors did a fine job with the lousy scripts they were given. You had to be good to put up with that dreck.

I also remember Donna Douglas for her appearance as Janet Tyler "revealed" in the legendary Twilight Zone episode, "The Eye of the Beholder." Great episode. That helped her ultimately land the sitcom gig.

She died yesterday.


Tragically, she died of pancreatic cancer, perhaps the most deadly of all. She learned she had it just three months ago.

Another link, which lists her age as 82:


Edit, February 9, 2015: A blast from the past. I remember this sequence, that until yesterday, I had not seen in 50 years:

Larry Pinnell played the love interest, Dash Riprock, off and on in The Beverly Hillbillies. It's strange in a way he is better remembered for this part than just about anything else he did, including co-starring with Ken Curtis in the syndicated adventure Ripcord. Pinnell died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Donna Douglas in 2013, talking about her life, her projects, and her faith. She looked very good, just like you'd expect a great-grandmother to look:

She always seemed comfortable in "her own skin," not vain at all, not worried about getting older.

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