Doris Ione Smith, more commonly known by her screen name Donna Douglas was an American actress and singer widely considered one of the most beloved film and television leading ladies of her time. She became particularly well known for playing Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies television series.
Early Life and Education
Doris Ione Smith (later Donna Douglas) was born in Pride, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. After winning several beauty contests such as Miss Baton Rouge and Miss New Orleans in 1957, she relocated to New York City with the intention of starting a career in show business.
Begun as a model for toothpaste advertisements, she quickly transitioned into acting roles on shows such as The Perry Como Show and The Steve Allen Show. In 1959 she played an integral part in Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine’s film Career; later that same year, she appeared alongside Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Lover Come Back as supporting cast.
As well as her acting career, she was also an author of children’s books. Additionally, she engaged in charity work and became an inspirational speaker; additionally she served as real estate agent while recording gospel music albums.
Donna Douglas was an iconic performer who found great fame. Beginning her career modeling toothpaste ads, she quickly rose through the ranks to TV shows like Perry Como Show, Steve Allen Show and Ed Sullivan Show as well as featuring in films like Career, Li’l Abner and Lover Come Back. Additionally she enjoyed success in music releasing multiple albums during her time and was best-known for portraying Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.
Douglas was an active businesswoman and advocate for various charitable causes throughout her later years, garnering respect from both generations of admirers. Douglas married twice before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 2015.
Achievement and Honors
Donna Douglas of Pride, Louisiana first gained notoriety as Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies before going on to create several albums of music under her own name.
She appeared on numerous TV shows and movies, such as the Perry Como Show and Steve Allen Show, where her popularity as the beloved daughter of Jethro and Granny Clampett skyrocketed, driving up her salary exponentially.
After The Beverly Hillbillies had come to an end, she expanded into real estate investing, authoring inspirational children’s books and even recording gospel albums for additional income streams. Her dedication to philanthropy showed she cared deeply beyond show business’s glitter and glamour.
Donna Douglas was an immensely gifted actress and singer who found immense success in her career. Her endearing portrayal of Elly May Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies television series led to an unprecedented surge in her fame – and an impressive increase in income as well.
She beat over 500 other actors to land the role of Jethro and Granny’s daughter in The Beverly Hillbillies from 1962-1971. Additionally, she continued appearing in movies and television shows throughout her career, as well as recording several albums of gospel music.
In 1949, she married Roland Bourgeois Jr and they had one child before divorcing in 1954. Later she married Robert Leeds who directed The Beverly Hillbillies; this marriage lasted until 1971 when Robert passed away suddenly. Prioritizing time spent with loved ones as well as charitable work for children across America was of primary importance for her.
Donna Douglas was an esteemed cultural icon and businesswoman, best known for her portrayal of Elly May Clampett in the hit TV show The Beverly Hillbillies. Additionally, Douglas excelled as a gospel singer, motivational speaker, author of books for children and adults as well as supporting various charitable organizations with financial donations; owning multiple beauty salons as well as having a successful real estate career were among her many achievements.
Her sprawling Baton Rouge home was an example of her grand lifestyle and savvy investment strategy, while she was known for having a deep appreciation for family. Married twice and having one son, she denied rumors of romantic attachment between herself and Elvis Presley while effectively using their professional relationship for lucrative deals and commercial endorsements.