• Donna Douglas played "Elly May Clampett" in 'The Beverly Hillbillies'
  • Before acting, she was a beauty queen
  • Douglas was also a singer

Donna Douglas, was known for her role as the charming "Elly May Clampett" on the hit CBS sitcom, 'The Beverly Hillbillies.' Sadly, Douglas passed away on January 1, 2015, at the age of 81.

From Beauty Queen to Beverly Hills

Before her acting career took off, Douglas was a beauty queen, having won the titles of Miss Baton Rouge and Miss New Orleans in 1957. She moved to New York to pursue acting and landed work as a model, in TV commercials, and finally bit parts on “The Perry Como Show” and “The Steve Allen Show.”

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Douglas, a native of Louisiana, catapulted into the limelight with her portrayal of the naive yet endearing "Elly May Clampett", the only daughter of the oil-rich "Clampett" family. The sitcom, which ran from 1962 to 1971, followed the hilarious misadventures of the "Clampett" clan as they transitioned from their humble Ozark roots to the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills, thanks to an unexpected oil windfall.

Douglas' character, "Elly May", was renowned for her love of all kinds of "critters," a trait inspired by Douglas' real-life affection for animals, stemming from her upbringing on her grandparents' farm in rural Louisiana. The actress was a series regular throughout the run of the top-rated show, which was the first in a triptych of corny countrified sitcoms from creator Paul Henning that included 'Petticoat Junction' and 'Green Acres.'

Beyond Beverly Hillbillies

After 'Hillbillies' ended, Douglas guested on another Serling series, 'Night Gallery,' and was seen in episodes of 'McMillan and Wife,' 'Love, American Style,' 'Adam-12' and 'Project UFO.' She also shared the screen with Elvis Presley in the 1964 film 'Frankie and Johnny.'

'Frankie and Johnny' aka Frankie und Johnny USA 1966 Regie Frederick De Cordova Darsteller Elvi

Her acting career waned by the mid-1970s, and she turned her focus to music and the Christian media marketplace, recording several gospel albums and writing children’s books.

A legacy remembered

The star passed away on January 1, 2015 at her home in Zachary, La, at the age of 81. Her death was attributed to pancreatic cancer.

Douglas is survived by a son. Her legacy as "Elly May Clampett", the lovable critter-loving country girl turned Beverly Hills socialite, will forever remain etched in the annals of television history.