• Nancy Kulp's career highlights
  • She played starred in 'The Beverly Hillbillies'
  • Kulp played "Miss Jane Hathaway"

Nancy Kulp (1921-1991), the Emmy-nominated actress best known as the prim and proper "Miss Jane Hathaway" on the hit CBS show 'The Beverly Hillbillies,' may not have her name etched on the glitzy Hollywood Walk of Fame, but her legacy is as indelible as the characters she brought to life on screen.

The unconventional journey of Nancy Kulp

Born in Harrisburg, Kulp's journey to stardom was anything but typical. A Navy veteran and a master's degree holder, she was persuaded by legendary director George Cukor to swap publicity for the spotlight. Kulp shone in films alongside greats like Bogart and Hepburn before her television debut in 1955. But it was as "Miss Jane Hathaway" that she became a household name, a role that would forever freeze her in time as the love-starved, bird-watching spinster.

BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, from left: Donna Douglas, Irene Ryan, Nancy Kulp, 1962-1971. photo: Gene Trindl/TV Guide/courtesy E

Yet, Kulp's talents weren't limited to acting. In a twist worthy of a Hollywood script, she pivoted to politics in 1984, running for Congress at the age of 62. Despite celebrity endorsements, Kulp's campaign was torpedoed by none other than her 'Beverly Hillbillies' co-star Buddy Ebsen, who labeled her "too liberal." The political stage proved unforgiving, and Kulp returned to her first love, teaching film and drama until her passing in 1991.

Final act

A dedicated cigarette smoker, Kulp faced a cancer diagnosis in 1990, undergoing chemotherapy in an effort to combat the disease. Unfortunately, by 1991, the cancer had metastasized, leading to her passing on February 3 at the age of 69 in Palm Desert, California. Nancy Kulp's final resting place is at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

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