The classic blonde-haired, blue eyed, Donna Douglas was indeed a beauty queen, and she won the titles of both Miss Baton Rouge, and Miss New Orleans in the late 1950’s to prove it. But, she was best known for her portrayal of the sweet and fresh-faced southern beauty in the 1960’s hit TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies. Watch her in this cute, but heartfelt clip as Elly May Clampett with her Pa (Buddy Ebsen):
Born September 26, 1932, in Pride, Louisiana, Douglas was a true southern belle who was admittedly a critter-loving tomboy in her younger years, much like her “Hillbillies” character. She was actually proud of her nine-year role as Elly May Clampett, and occasionally made public appearances dressed as the part.
As a young woman, Douglas moved to New York City to pursue a career in show business, and got her start as an illustration model for toothpaste advertisements. She achieved several guest appearances, including one as “Letters Girl” on The Perry Como Show, and another as “Billboard Girl,” on the Steve Allen Show, leading New York photographers and newspaper reporters to present her with the “Miss By-line” crown, which she wore in an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The exposure led to her getting cast as Marjorie Burke in the movie drama Career in 1959, as well as her landing small parts in both the musical comedy Li’l Abner, and the movie Lover Come Back. Douglas also made a number of TV appearances during the late 1950s and early 1960s, including The Twilight Zone episode “The Eye of the Beholder.”
But, Douglas was much more than just a pretty face. She also had a career as a gospel singer and inspirational speaker, as well as authored books for children and adults, and became a popular real estate agent in Beverly Hills, California. Deeply religious, Douglas remained active in her faith, as well as causes dear to her heart, until her death at the age of 82. She succumbed to her battle with pancreatic cancer at her home in Zachary, Louisiana, on News Year’s Day of 2015.
Featured Photo: God Vine