|Douglas in more recent years; and publicity photo from The Beverly Hillbillies|
Donna Douglas, who played the sweet, simple “Elly Mae Clampett” on the 1960s hit TV comedy, has passed away at the age of 81.
Douglas began her entertainment industry career as an illustration model for toothpaste ads in the late ’50s. After a few TV appearances, as the “Letters Girl” on The Perry Como Show and the “Billboard Girl” on The Steve Allen Show, she was dubbed “Miss By-line” by the New York media. That led to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show where she was spotted by film producer Hal Wallis who cast her in her first feature, playing Marjorie Burke in Career. She went to play a series of bit parts in films including Li’l Abner (1959) and Lover Come Back in 1961. Douglas made her only starring turn in a feature film, as Frankie in Frederick de Cordova’s Frankie And Johnny (1966), opposite Elvis Presley.
She appeared on numerous TV shows in the 50s and 60s, including The Twilight Zone (“The Eye of the Beholder”), CBS detective series Checkmate, along with U.S. Marshal, The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet, Bachelor, Adam 12 and Route 65. But her career took a major turn with the role of tomboy Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971. She starred on the show for all nine seasons, along with Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Nancy Kulp, Raymond Bailey, and Max Baer, Jr.
In its first two years, The Beverly Hillbillies was the No. 1 show in the U.S. In 1981, she returned for a made-for-TV reunion movie, The Return Of The Beverly Hillbillies.