Although she was 82 when she passed away from pancreatic cancer, actress Donna Douglas is forever immortalized in the public’s memories as the bosomy blond bombshell on The Beverly Hillbillies. One of the first long-running situation comedies with a touch of irony, The Beverly Hillbillies role of Elly May Clampett gave Donna the chance to play a sweetly naive tomboy who seemed unaware of her curvy body and beauty, reported Philly.com.
The show featured a family from the Ozarks who hit it rich after finding oil on their land. They packed up their goats and the gal and moved to Beverly Hills. Receiving strong ratings from 1962 to 1971, the comedy also gave Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan the chance to expand their comedic talents.
For Donna, the role of Elly May as a pretty young backwoods beauty attired in a remarkably ugly rope belt and jeans outfit was the perfect fit. She won the role from 500 other actresses when she proved that she knew how to milk a goat. Raised as a tomboy in Louisiana, Donna had milked cows before, but later admitted she’d never handled a goat’s udders.
“I had milked cows before. I figured [goats] were equipped the same, so I just went on over and did it.””
Reflecting on Donna’s role, her cousin Charlene Smith said that it was the perfect match.
“She was always happy, and she really loved animals – just like her character on The Beverly Hillbillies. She was a wonderful lady, a very good Christian lady.””
But one of Donna’s most memorable performance outside of The Beverly Hillbillies may have been as the bandage-wrapped beauty in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone episode called “Eye of the Beholder.”
In addition to Elly May, Douglas strutted her skills as the Letters Girl on The Perry Como Show in 1957 and as the Billboard Girl on The Steve Allen Show in 1959.
She also was featured in a film with Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine, and even a role in the movie musical Li’l Abner. In addition, Douglas won praise for her role starring opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 film Frankie and Johnny.
As for Donna’s own memories of her career, she viewed the years filming The Beverly Hillbillies as her happiest, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Over the nine years I probably worked with over 900 different animals. Elly didn’t kiss a lot of men, but she sure kissed a lot of critters. The two things I am most asked is if I still love critters and can I still whistle like Elly May. The answer is yes to both.”
And that answer is reminiscent of a modern celebrity animal lover, Ariana Grande, as the Inquisitr reported. When asked about her vegan diet, she was candid in her fondness for animals.
“”I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding.”
[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]