The Beverly Hillbillies is one of the most iconic shows of the 1960s. The show featured the Clampett family in their rags-to-riches tale, as they went from poor rural folk to fancy rich city dwellers living in Beverly Hills. And Donna Douglas made her mark as Elly May Clampett.
While the show was canceled in the early ’70s, the iconic characters live on. When visiting Jerry Springer’s talk show, Springer once told Douglas she was a “sex symbol” for those who watched The Beverly Hillbillies. Here’s how she responded.
Donna Douglas played Elly May Clampett on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’
There are plenty of iconic characters from The Beverly Hillbillies, and Douglas certainly played one of them. Elly May Clampett was known for her love of critters on the show, and she loved playing the part.
Back in 1989, Douglas talked about her iconic role over a decade after the show ended. “All sizes, ages, whatever, little kids, little babies that come up — they’ll just sort of hug you and everything,” Douglas said of her fans at the time to Entertainment Tonight. “Just love — to still love the show.”
Douglas also reflected on the negative critics. While the critics had a lot of negative things to say about The Beverly Hillbillies, the fans loved it. “I know they said, well, New York didn’t think too much [of us], Los Angeles didn’t really think a lot of the hillbillies,” she continued. “Nobody loved us but the people.”
Douglas was embarrassed when Jerry Springer called her a ‘sex symbol’
It seems Springer was also a fan of The Beverly Hillbillies. Back in 1993, Springer brought on the cast of the show to his talk show. And he paid a lot of attention to Douglas.
Douglas was joined by two of her co-stars on the stage of The Jerry Springer Show at the time. “I hope this doesn’t sound sexist, but you’re absolutely beautiful Donna,” Springer started once Douglas sat down on the stage. This caused plenty of cheering from the audience, and Douglas thanked Springer.
“Do you still feel like you’re Elly May?” Springer asked the actor.
“Well, Elly May was like a slice out of my life,” Douglas answered. “I couldn’t get away from it. In my case, it was a joy to do Elly.”
Springer then added, “Let’s say it like it is — you were the sex symbol of the show.” And Douglas didn’t seem to anticipate that, as she was surprised and a bit embarrassed.
“Maybe it’s just because I love critters, you think?” Douglas joked in response.
Douglas died at 81 years old
Douglas will forever be remembered as Elly May, and she died at 81 years old. According to NPR, Douglas’ niece reported she died of pancreatic cancer in 2015.
While Douglas had a starring role in The Beverly Hillbillies, she also played a part opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 film Frankie and Johnny. And she had another role in The Twilight Zone in 1960. But Hillbillies seemed to be her true TV love, as she also reprised her role in the 1981 TV movie, The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies.
After Hillbillies was totally over, she didn’t do much acting — but she continued to appear at conventions to share the love of the show with her fans.
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