Elly May (Donna Douglas in all 274 episodes), the only child of Jed and Rose Ellen Clampett, is a mountain beauty with the body of a pinup girl and the soul of a tomboy. She can throw a fastball as well as "rassle" most men to a fall, and she can be as tender with her friends, animals, and family as she is tough with anyone she rassles. She said once that animals could be better companions than people, but as she grew older, she saw that, "fellas kin be more fun than critters." Elly is squired about by eager young Hollywood actors with stage names such as "Dash Riprock" and "Bolt Upright". Other boyfriends for Elly include Sonny Drysdale, Beau Short, accountant Fred Penrod, beatnik Sheldon Epps, and Mark Templeton, a Navy frogman.
Elly's most notable weakness, often mentioned when she is being "courted", is her total lack of kitchen skills. Family members cringe when, for plot reasons, Elly takes over the kitchen. Rock-like donuts and cookies, for example, are a plot function in an episode featuring Wally Cox as bird-watching Professor Biddle. On one of the family's visits back to the hills, a miller bought a cake baked by Elly May at a fair because he needed a new grindstone for his flour mill.
Elly is briefly considered for film stardom at the movie studio owned by Jed. In one episode, hearing Rock Hudson and Cary Grant are both single, Granny asks that Elly be introduced to them.
In addition to the family dog, Duke (an old Bloodhound), a number of animals lived on the Clampett estate thanks to animal-lover Elly. These animals were collectively known as her "critters". The most prominent pets were chimpanzees, but other animals (from typical dogs and cats to less-traditional house pets, such as deer, opossums, bobcats, bears, goats, raccoons, and kangaroos) were also occasionally featured.
In the 1981 TV movie of The Beverly Hillbillies, Elly May is head of a zoo.
With the 1973 death of 'Hillbillies' co-star Irene Ryan, and Max Baer Jr.'s refusal to participate, Douglas joined Nancy Kulp and Buddy Ebsen in 1981 as the only original cast members to appear in the reunion movie, "Return of the Beverly Hillbillies". Douglas was a guest star on a number of other television programs and the subject of paper dolls, dolls, coloring books, and various toys during the height of the show's popularity. In a 2003 interview with "Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict", she summed up her views on the role: "Elly May was like a slice out of my life. She is a wonderful little door opener for me because people love her, and they love the Hillbillies. Even to this day it's shown every day somewhere. But, as with any abilities, she may open a door for you, but you have to have substance or integrity to advance you through that door."
In 1993, Douglas, Ebsen, and Baer reunited for a final time in a CBS-TV television special, "The Legend of The Beverly Hillbillies".
So there are only three main titles for Elly May - a TV series, a TV movie, and a TV documentary. But remember: there were 273 episodes of that TV series and during it she also met with characters from 'Petticoat Junction' and 'Green Acres'. So her qualifications are stronger than many who are already in the Hall.
'The Beverly Hillbillies'
(1962 - 1971)
"The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies"
(1981 TV Movie)
"The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies"
(1993 TV Special documentary)
Ms. Douglas passed away two years ago January and perhaps Elly May should have been inducted on the spot. I apologize. But we are rectifying the situation in this year of tributes and she will be memorialized there "forever".
Welcome to the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame, Elly May. Take your shoes off; set a spell.....