This has been a rather rough week when it comes to classic TV stars passing away. It was only a few days ago that we lost Edward Herrman of “Gilmore Girls” fame, and today, the news was reported that Donna Douglas, best known for playing Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” has also passed. She was 81 years old.
Douglas’ claim to fame was playing Elly May Clampett on the hit CBS show for more than 270 episodes from 1962 to 1971. She even appeared in the TV movie based on the show a decade later. This is back when shows made more than 24 episodes a season, and they really were working hard around the clock to make sure that content was out there for viewers.
Douglas was one of the last surviving members of the show’s cast; now, Max Baer Jr. (Jethro) is the last remaining regular to appear in more than 100 episodes. Many of the cast members did become typecast as a result of doing the show for so long, and often were unable to find many significant roles elsewhere once the show was done. Douglas had some guest roles elsewhere, but was never able to hammer down a series-regular position somewhere else.
The appeal of “The Beverly Hillbillies” for some was that it was the classic rags-to-riches / fish out of water story. We see networks go back to this well time and time again, and even “The Big Bang Theory” is an adaptation of it with Penny becoming surrounded by geek culture. While we don’t know if this particular series will ever be remade, we wouldn’t be shocked if there is something similar produced at some point on another network.
Douglas will be missed. Hopefully, some out there will read this story and be inspired to go back and check out what is definitely a TV classic. The first few seasons especially are considered some of the best of what the 1960s had to offer.
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