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Donna Douglas – Best Known as American Sweetheart, Ellie Mae Clampett

Entertainment | August 22, 2018

The closing credits of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Original airdate, October 2, 1963. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Blonde Bombshell, Donna Douglas, was nothing short of beautiful and sexy in her heyday. She was all that AND a bag of chips! Being beautiful and talented didn’t keep Douglas from being true to her roots. She was just a down to earth, country girl and embraced every aspect of her life.

Donna Douglas was best known for her role as Ellie Mae Clampett on the hit television sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Beverly Hillbillies was a 1960s television sitcom about an, initially, economically challenged, backwoods family, turned millionaires after striking oil on their property. The irony of the story is that they didn’t know that they were economically challenged; they were happy just the way they were! As the theme song goes:

Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
And then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up through the ground come a bubblin’ crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.
Well the first thing you know ol’ Jed's a millionaire,
The kinfolk said, "Jed, move away from there"
Said "Californy is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly
Hills, that is. Swimmin’ pools, movie stars.
The Beverly Hillbillies…

It was as if the role of Ellie Mae Clampett had been developed with Douglas in mind.

Douglas’ early days were filled with many of the same scenarios that played out on the Beverly Hillbillies; minus the mansion and millions. Living on a farm, she often found herself surrounded by animals, both domestic and wild; critters, if you will. In the absence of a human companion, she found comfort being with the animals.

Prior to being cast in the show, Douglas entered a beauty pageant in New York, at the age of 17. The pageant had been sponsored by a local newspaper and was called the “Mill Byline Pageant.” Not surprisingly, she won.

After winning the beauty pageant, Donna Douglas appeared on the iconic Ed Sullivan Show.  

Douglas made guest appearances on popular classic television shows.

Soon, Douglas would make some guest appearances on television shows during the '50s and early '60s. These appearances included parts on classic shows like Route 66, Checkmate, Dragnet and The Twilight Zone.

This public exposure was all Donna Douglas needed to get noticed. The Beverly Hillbillies first aired in 1962 and ran for a total of 9 seasons; ending in 1971. In between filming the show, Douglas dabbled in some other appearances worth mentioning.

In 1966, Donna Douglas played opposite of Elvis Presley in the musical, “Frankie and Johnny.”

When Douglas and Presley began filming, Frankie and Johnny, in 1965, there were rumors flying that there was something more than a professional relationship taking place between the two. Sources say that nothing could have been further from the truth. Their relationship was strictly professional and platonic. It is interesting to note, however, that although Donna Douglas was an accomplished vocalist, her voice was dubbed over for the film.

Donna Douglas and Elvis Presley were both deeply spiritual and often shared in-depth conversations about their faith. This common interest is most likely the root of their close friendship and the root of all of the gossip.  

In the end, after The Beverly Hillbillies sitcom ended, Donna Douglas left the world of acting to pursue a gospel music singing career. She died in 2015 and has been remembered as somewhat of a legend in her own time and has left a legacy she can be proud of.

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.