Donna Douglas, 'Beverly Hillbillies' Star, Dies at 81

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Wholesome blonde actress Donna Douglas, who played pretty tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies" and starred opposite Elvis Presley in the 1966 film "Frankie and Johnny," has died at age 81, her family said on Friday.

Douglas, a local beauty queen in her native Louisiana before becoming an actress, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Baton Rouge, her niece Charlene Smith said. "The Beverly Hillbillies" ran on CBS for nine seasons — from 1962 to 1971 — and was one of the most popular shows of the 1960s, topping the ratings its first two seasons.

Douglas played the daughter of backcountry widower Jed Clampett, portrayed by Buddy Ebsen, who becomes rich when he discovers oil on his land, then moves his hillbilly family into a Beverly Hills mansion to live alongside the wealthy. Elly May was gorgeous but was happier playing with her numerous pets including chimpanzees or "rasslin' fellas" rather than smooching them. Rich suitors tried to woo her with little success.

Douglas guest-starred on other shows including "Love, American Style" and "The Twilight Zone," but rejected some movie roles for being too racy. Her only starring film appearance was in "Frankie and Johnny," a musical in which she played riverboat gambler Presley's girlfriend. "She was a very giving person and a very Christian lady," her niece said.

— Reuters