NEW YORK (AP) – Donna Douglas, who played the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” has died. Her niece says Douglas died Thursday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, near her hometown of Zachary. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, Charlene Smith said. Douglas was 81.
She was best known for her role in “The Beverly Hillbillies,” the CBS comedy about a backwoods Ozark family who moved to Beverly Hills after striking it rich from oil discovered on their land.
The series, which ran from 1962 to 1971, also starred the late Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan as well as Max Baer Jr., who turns 77 on Sunday.
As Elly May, she seemed blissfully unaware of her status as a bumpkin blond bombshell. Typically she was clad in a snug flannel shirt and tight jeans cinched with a rope belt, and she seemed to prefer her critters to any beau.
Chosen from more than 500 other actresses, Douglas said she felt at ease playing the role because, like her character, she grew up a poor Southern tomboy. Her childhood in Pride, Louisiana, came in handy when she was asked during her audition to milk a goat.
“I had milked cows before,” she recalled in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press. “I figured they were equipped the same, so I just went on over and did it.”
The show was not only assailed by critics, but by the network president who put it on the air: “I HATED it,” Michael Dann confided much later. “After screening the pilot, I don’t think I ever watched another segment.”
The public, however, felt quite the opposite: It ran for nine seasons, often in the Top 10. In their own way, the Clampetts were a forerunner of the ’60s counterculture.
It wasn’t much of a stretch for Douglas to fit into the troupe, said her cousin, Charlene Smith.
“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.”
Indeed, when Douglas gave her autograph, she included a biblical verse (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…”), according to New Orleans TV station WAFB.
Douglas’ career began with beauty pageants – she was Miss Baton Rouge and Miss New Orleans – followed by a trip to New York to pursue a career in entertainment.
“That was the first time I had ever been on an airplane,” Douglas said.
While modeling didn’t appeal to her – “I didn’t want to be that skinny” – television did. Douglas was featured as the Letters Girl on “The Perry Como Show” in 1957 and as the Billboard Girl on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1959.
She landed a featured role in the 1959 film “Career,” starring Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine, and a bit part in the film musical “Li’l Abner.” She also had a small role as Tony Randall’s secretary in the 1961 romantic comedy “Lover Come Back” with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.
Douglas starred in one of the most memorable episodes of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” – titled “Eye of the Beholder,” it was the one in which her head is wrapped in bandages for most of the half-hour after plastic surgery aimed at fixing her “ugliness,” which in fact was beauty in a universe of monsters. And she starred opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 movie “Frankie and Johnny.”
After “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Douglas worked in real estate, recorded country and gospel music albums and wrote a book for children that drew on biblical themes.
In 2010 she sued CBS and toymaker Mattel over a Barbie doll that used Elly May’s name and likeness. The suit was settled in 2011.
She said she never minded being typecast as her “Hillbillies” character.
“So many kinds of people relate to Elly May,” Douglas said. “So many people love her, and that means a lot to me.”
Douglas was married twice, to Roland John Bourgeois, Jr. until 1954, and then to The Beverly Hillbillies director Robert M. Leeds. They divorced in 1980 after nine years of marriage. Survivors include her son, Danny P. Bourgeois.
SUZIE AND I WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
ALL THE NEWS THAT IS NEWS
OPRY VIP HOSPITALIZED Country Music icon Little Jimmy Dickens is born on December 19, 1920 in Bolt, WV. He joins the Grand Ole Opry in 1948. In 1982, Little Jimmy inducts into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His Country Classics include Take An Old Cold Tater (And Wait) [#7-1949], Country Boy [#7-1949], Out Behind The Barn [#9-1954] and May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose [#1 for 2 weeks-1965]. On Christmas Day 2014, Little Jimmy Dickens enters a Nashville, TN area hospital in critical care from an undisclosed illness. Our prayers are for his quick recovery.
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RADIO FREE EUROPE NO LONGER FREE According to the Voice of America, the Republic of Azerbaijan police raids the Baku bureau of U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Europe early Friday, December 27, 2014 and shuts down its office and orders its journalists to stop working. RFE chief editor Nenad Pejic calls the raid a flagrant violation of every international commitment and standard Azerbaijan has pledged to uphold. Press watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks the country 160th out of 180 in its 2014 press freedom index, four points below its 2013 score.
OLDIES IS PASSÉ In recent years, radio programmers remove music from the Fabulous Fifties from Oldies radio stations. No more Doo Wop for us dyed-in-the-wool Oldies fans. But now even the word Oldies is passé. iHeartMedia KMXR FM Corpus Christi, TX returns from its Christmas Music holiday with a new name.Oldies 93.9 KMXR FM is now Big 93.9. KMXR FM joins the radio station tide that abandons the Oldies label. KMXR FM makes no changes to its Premium Choice lineup. Only its Oldies name changes to position itself asCorpus Christi’s Classic Hits.
SPORTS SHAKE UP IN ALBANY, NY Starting on January 12, 2015 Albany Broadcasting general manager Bryan Hollenbaugh reveals that WZMR FM (The Peak 104.9) will flip its format from Album Rock to Sports Talk with new call letters, plus join CBS Sports Radio. Prior to this change, WPTR-1240 is the Capital Region’s home for CBS Sports Radio. WZMR FM blends with FOX Sports WOFX-980, ESPN WTMM FM (104.5) and WPTR-1240 who now air sports in the market. WROW-590, which is also part of Albany Broadcasting, carries Army football games this season.
TRIVIA QUESTION: What popular Country singer is Lady Antebellum’s parent? The answer appears below.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
•ANGELO CATALDI longtime SportsRadio WIP FM (94.1) Philadelphia, PA Cataldi Morning Show host who wakes up Philly sports fans since 1990 signs long-term renewal of his contract. •IHEARTMEDIA sells a select portfolio of its tower assets to Vertical Bridge for over $400 million. •DELMARVA BROADCASTING purchases WFAI-1510 and WJKS FM (101.7) Wilmington, DE from QC Communications to add to its Wilmington cluster that includes WDEL-1450, WSTW FM (93.7) and WXCY FM (103.7).
ENTERTAINMENT AND NEWS MILESTONES
•1955 BOB CUMMINGS SHOW premieres on NBC TV on January 2nd (later on CBS TV). •1966 DEANA CARTERdaughter of guitarist Fred Carter born on January 4th in Nashville, TN. •1976 AUSTIN CITY LIMITS debuts on January 2nd on PBS TV with its first guest artist Willie Nelson. •1982 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS beat Miami Dolphins 41-38 in 13:52 of OT on January 2nd. •1997 FAITH HILL’s album It Matters To Me registers double-platinum for the second time on January 2nd. •2011 SPAIN executes strict new anti-smoking laws on January 2nd.
EMAILS YES WE HAVE EMAIL
DAVE MICHAELS [former WSAI-1360/KONO-860/KBUC FM] (Dayton-Huber Heights, OH) Subject: OK here’s a short one!!!!! Radio career started in Shelbyville, Tn at WLIJ in 1966. I did everything. Many stations later I was hired by RKO to work summer vacations and swing at 99X WXLO-FM…not so good, my car was stolen from the underground garage and the Garbage strike make the City stink! Dave Michaels / KBUC KONO KQRO Jimmy —- hope that is what you wanted Cousin Billy over – OUT
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DON SUNDEEN [DJ/Hi Records promotion/TV ad prod] (Dallas, TX) So many of us have had such interesting lives, and you’re certainly one. Ronnie (Rafael) and I are good friends, have been for years and he’s a super guy, he named his cocker spaniel, wait for it, JOE COCKER. Last time I talked to Don Tolle he was in Atlanta and producing some stuff, maybe country, I don’t remember. Most of the guys and girls that were in the record business have been doing other things for years, I left in 80 when disco came in, and somehow transitioned into commercial TV production. I’m so glad we’ve connected and enjoy reading your column and occasionally participating. Hope you and your new little girl, Suzie, have a wonderful Holiday Season and great New Year.
IRA [Eye] LIPSON [ex PD AOR KZEW FM The Zoo] (Dallas, TX) Subject: The station is out of sight. Jim, Sorry to report that North Texas Radio For The Blind is closing down. Although there are 180 functioning radio stations for the blind in the United States, management was unable to raise enough money to keep local broadcasting going in the 5th market. I’ll miss doing weekly shows with the talented Don Sundeen, and I know the area’s sight-impaired listeners will miss the station. Very sad. Ira Lipson
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ED MILLER [Ed Milton KPCN-730] (Austin, TX) Hello! Jim, Thankful that I got back on your list. Happy for all the wonderful times we had at KPCN, although we were being deluded into thinking that was what the radio biz was and always would be like. Hah!! Sad that Bob Hanna brought that to an end for you. Speaking of Hanna and end, did I ever tell you how it all came to an end for him? He was in Vegas, staying in a high-roller hotel. Housekeeping opened the door one morning and found him dead in the bed, still holding the telephone to his ear. Dead on the phone: somehow always seemed a fitting end for him. I’ve really missed you. Ed
TRIVIA ANSWER: In 1993, we spin the new duet ballad Does He Love Her by Reba McEntire and Alamo Village alumni Linda Davis on KILT FM here in Houston, TX. The tune scores a Grammy. Linda Davis’ daughter Hillary Scott is lead co-singer of the multi Grammy-winning group that forms in Nashville, TN in 2006, Lady Antebellum. Charles Kelley is brother of Pop singer Josh Kelley.
BILL CHERRY [Realtor in late 1950s Music ’til Dawn host on WWL-870] (Dallas, TX) Jim, I loved the trivia about CBS. I’d not known anything about its history before Mr. Paley. Happy New Year! Bill Cherry
TONY WILLIAMS [WKY-930/KRLD-1080] (Dallas-Richardson, TX) Subject: Glenn Corbett. Corbett was sort of stiff. Did not seem comfortable in the role (Route 66). The only actor on the show to pose in “Playgirl” was (George) Maharis. (Martin) Milner had a fishing show on radio for a long time, but he is in poor health now and rarely makes public appearances. Great show … in my top 5 … great Americana … glimpse of America in the 1960’s. One early episode had Lew Ayers (Dr. Kildare in films) playing a Nazi hunter. Wasn’t that a great show? The remake in 1993 was weak, and now few know what Route 66 means except for the oldtimers … sorry I meant gently aged for the peak of perfection. Maybe I was unfair to Corbett. Viewers were probably used to Maharis’ lighter touch. If Maharis had stayed theshow may have gone on another couple of years. Milner had his wife and young children travel with him on location.
DANNY RAY BOYER [President Oldies KLDE FM 104.9 & Classic County KPEP FM 106.5] (Eldorado, TX)Subject: Merry Christmas! Suzie weighs more that Colonel. He runs about about 75 lbs and is spoiled rotten too. He tells us what he wants, whether it is a treat, go in the truck, go outside, eat and when he wants to go to bed. Paula and I hope you both had a good Christmas. DRB
DEAN KOONTZ (July 9, 1945 – p) Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished.
Jim Rose and Suzie
Houston, Texas – Laus Deo
Driving down 1-40 last week, I met a tractor-trailer transporting a dozen new care. The pink SRX Crossover Cadillac sparkling in the bright sung caught my eye. There was no doubt in my mind that some Mary Kay Cosmetics superstar soon be beaming just as brilliantly as she drove away in one of the most easily recognized sales incentives in the world.
The scene brought back memories from 1986 when Mary Kay Ash, Jean and I shared a banquet table- and stories.
In previous columns in my “A Strategy For Winning” book, I have written several accounts of how this highly successful lady broke numerous barriers on her way to the top. But the Cadillac riding high on the tractor-trailer reminded me of something of which I have not written.
In 1967 when Mary Kay decided she wanted to get a luxury car and spotlight her company’s success, it was really a Lincoln Town Car she wanted to purchase. But when she went to a Lincoln dealer ship, the sales man told her in so many words, ” Honey why don’t you go home and get your husband- and when you get back we’ll get you into that Lincoln.
. “That salesman’s line and attitude of course, did not go over well with Mary Kay. So she decided to give Cadillac a try.
The Cadillac salesman had no problem in showing her respect and putting her in a 1968 Sedan DeVille and fulfilling the car’s color with her cosmetics . Cadillac simply brought back a retired color called Mountain Laurel they had offered briefly in the 1950- the color of Elvis Presley’s 1954 Fleetwood that appeared in all of its brilliance in print and some electronic media of the day.
According to Mary Kay Cosmetics insider and various insiders and various articles, a number of sales directors in the organization got cars just like Mary Kay’ after seeing hers. That’s when Mary Kay and son Richard Rogers go the idea that these “billboards on wheels” could be great incentives to award to their top producers in their direct marketing organization.
So in 1969, Mary Kay traded in her first car and leased six 1970 sedans-one for herself and five for her sales leaders. Thus, the standard was set that when independent sales directors’ sales teams sell at least $100,000 in six months they get to drive new leased Cadillacs for two years. Forty-five years later, records show that more than 22,000 U S consultants have achieved the standard and driven the cars. According to current statistics, l,300 are on the road today – including I understand one driven by a male. (since Cadillacs are available only in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, consultants in other countries get other models- pink of course.)
Today, the vehicles have moved away from “Elvis Mountain Larel” and are factory- ordered in a Pearlized Pink exclusive to Mary Kay. At the end of two-year leases most consultants requalify, they return current cars and get new ones. Some buy their current cars and opt ato take the cash reward of $900 a month for two years. When cars are turned in, Cadillac repaints the cars white and sells hem at auction as part of the Mary Kay deal.
Mary Kay leaders say the “lost Lincoln sale” story is a great customer service lesson: when someone treats you with respect, it can create a lasting impact. Laura Beiler, VP of recognition and events says,”Think about it. Had that Lincoln dealer treated Mary Kay the way the Cadillac dealer did, the course of history would probably have changed” And according to some the Lincoln Town Car might still be around.