Pride, Louisiana, USA
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Donna Douglas (born Doris Smith; September 1932 – January 1, 2015) was an American actress and singer, known for her role as Elly May Clampett in CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–1971). Following her acting career, Douglas became a real estate agent, a Gospel singer and inspirational speaker, and authored books for children and adults.
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Profile Bio Text
Donna Douglas (born Doris Smith; September 26, 1933 – January 1, 2015) was an American actress, best known for her role as Elly May Clampett in the CBS series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–1971).
Douglas was born in the community of Pride in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana She was the only daughter of Emmett Ratcliff Smith, Sr. (1907–1988) and his wife, the former Elma Robinson (1910–2003). Her birth name is listed both as Dorothy Smith and Doris Smith in various articles. She had an older brother and spent much of her childhood romping as a tomboy with him and some male cousins.
Douglas attended St. Gerard High School, a Roman Catholic school, where she played softball and basketball. She was a member of the school's first graduating class. She married Roland Bourgeois in 1949; they divorced in 1954, shortly after the birth of their son, Danny P. Bourgeois. She was a "Miss Baton Rouge" and was named "Miss New Orleans" in 1957.
Douglas' first husband was Roland John Bourgeois, Jr. (married 1949, divorced 1954), with whom she had a son, her only child, Danny P. Bourgeois (born September 14, 1954). She married Robert M. Leeds (1920–2000), the director of The Beverly Hillbillies, in 1971; they divorced in 1980.
Friendship with Buddy Ebsen
Douglas was a busy yet relatively unknown actress in the 1960s, but after working with actors such as John Forsythe, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., and Jackie Cooper, she was selected from among 500 young actresses to work alongside legendary actor and dancer Buddy Ebsen on The Beverly Hillbillies. This series ran for nine consecutive seasons, beginning in 1962 and ending in 1971. Douglas remained a close friend of Ebsen for 32 years. In a 2011 interview with The Lincoln Times-News, she described Ebsen as "a wonderful man, very much like my own father, a quiet, reserved, and caring person". Continually typecast as a result of her Hillbillies role, Douglas decided to focus on her career as a gospel singer.
With the 1973 death of Hillbillies co-star Irene Ryan, and Max Baer's refusal to participate, Douglas joined Nancy Kulp and Buddy Ebsen as the only original cast members to appear on the 1981 reunion movie, Return of The Beverly Hillbillies. In 1992, Douglas and Baer attended Buddy Ebsen's 84th birthday celebration in Beverly Hills, California. In 1993, Douglas, Ebsen, and Baer reunited on The Jerry Springer Show, and for a final time in a CBS-TV television special, The Legend of The Beverly Hillbillies, that same year.
In 2003, Douglas's mother, Emma, and her surrogate father, Buddy Ebsen, both died. She and Baer visited their acting mentor in the hospital, and they each delivered a eulogy at his funeral. A decade later, Douglas revealed the depth of her feelings for Ebsen in an interview with "Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict":
I loved Buddy Ebsen. He reminded me so much of my own Dad. Most of my scenes were with Buddy, and most of Max's with Irene. Buddy was just a wonderful man. I related to him so easily. The night before he died Max and I went up to the hospital to see him.
On June 10, 1993, Douglas and her partner, Curt Wilson, in Associated Artists Entertainment, Inc., filed a US$200 million lawsuit against Disney, Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, their production companies, and Creative Artists Agency claiming that the film Sister Act was plagiarized from a book, A Nun in the Closet, owned by the partners. Douglas and Wilson claimed that in 1985 they had developed a screenplay from the book. The lawsuit claimed that there were more than one hundred similarities and plagiarisms between the movie and the book/screenplay owned by Douglas and Wilson. The lawsuit claimed that the developed screenplay had been submitted to Disney, Goldberg, and Midler three times during 1987 and 1988. In 1994, Douglas and Wilson declined a $1 million offer to settle the case. The judge found in favor of Walt Disney Pictures and the other defendants. Wilson stated at the time, "They would have had to copy our stuff verbatim for us to prevail."
On May 4, 2011, Douglas filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Mattel and CBS Consumer Products used her name and likeness for a Barbie doll in the Classic TV Collection without her authorization. The suit alleged that packaging for the "Elly May" Barbie doll featured a photo of her portraying the character. Douglas maintained she never endorsed the doll or gave Mattel permission to use her name to promote its sale.
On December 27, 2011, Douglas settled her suit against CBS Consumer Products and Mattel, in which she had been seeking at least $75,000. In the lawsuit, Douglas claimed that CBS and Mattel needed her approval to design the doll, while CBS and Mattel maintained that they didn't need her consent or approval because the network holds exclusive rights to the character. De
Cause of Death
Emmett Ratcliff Smith Sr. (1907–1988)
Elma Robinson (1910–2003)
Place of Death
Zachary, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, USA
Couple Profile Source
St. Gerard High School, Baton Rouge, LA
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Scott Stander & Associates, Inc.
Voluptuous figure, Platinum blonde hair