PRIDE, LA (WAFB) - Family members say Donna Douglas passed away at the age of 82. Douglas was an actress, best known for her role as Elly May Clampett, the only daughter of Jed Clampett, in the CBS television series The Beverly Hillbillies. The series ran for nine years, ending in 1971.
Charlene Smith, Douglas' niece and former mayor of Zachary, says her aunt passed away Thursday, Jan. 1 in her Zachary, LA home, with family members by her side. She says pancreatic cancer was the cause of death and only learned she had cancer three months ago.
Douglas was born Doris Smith, near Pride, LA. Her family was poor, but they moved to north Baton Rouge when her father, Emmett Smith, got a job with Esso Oil Company.
She married at age 17 and a baby boy came along, but the marriage split. Her parents, Emmet and Elma Smith, kept their grandson while Donna moved to New York to try and make as much money as possible to send back home.
"I believed if I believed with all my heart that if I did the best I could do, that God would take care of me," said Douglas in a 2009 interview with WAFB. "Then I didn't have to be afraid. And the other thing was that Mom and Daddy trusted me enough to let me go and was gonna help me with my little boy, because he was gonna stay. Then I was gonna be worth of their trust."
Donna then moved to Los Angeles where she landed the coveted role of Elly May Clampett.
After her stint on
The Beverly Hillbillies
, Douglas was every man's sexy pinup dream, but as producers for upcoming movies asked her to show more skin, play more provocative roles, she turned down movies.
Douglas also appeared in several other hit shows, including The Twilight Zone, Mister Ed and Route 66. She also co-starred with Elvis Presley in Frankie and Johnny.
"I didn't want to be put in a place of compromise. So I went to night school and got my real estate license," she said in the 2009 interview. She says she was not good in real estate because she learned she was a service person.
"I'll tell em what's good about the house, but I'll tell them what's wrong about it too. And you don't do that!"
For nearly 50 years, she appeared before hundreds of churches, schools, and organizations across the country, talking about God, telling her story of moral choices and the great times she's lived.
In 2011, Douglas sued toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., claiming the company used her name and likeness for a Barbie doll without authorization. The suit was settled.
Douglas attended St. Gerard High School, a Roman Catholic school now called Redemptorist High School, where she played softball and basketball. She was a member of the school's first graduating class.
She was a "Miss Baton Rouge" and was named "Miss New Orleans" in 1957.
When Douglas gave her autograph, she signed it with Proverbs 3: 5-6, which reads:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Donna's family asks that her funeral be private, and they'll make a statement Monday.