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'Beverly Hillbillies' Elly May, Donna Douglas dies at 81

(September 1932 – January 1, 2015)

Donna Douglas (born Doris Smith) was an American actress and comedienne, 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.

Douglas married her first husband, Roland Bourgeois, Jr., in 1949, with whom she had her only child, Danny Bourgeois in 1954. The couple divorced that same year. She married Robert Leeds, director of The Beverly Hillbillies, in 1971; they divorced in 1980.

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".

In 2003, both Douglas' mother and Ebsen died. Douglas and Baer visited Ebsen in the hospital, and following his death both 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."

In addition to her frequent traveling for celebrity appearances and speeches, Douglas enjoyed gardening, spending time with friends and family, and answering her fan mail.

Douglas died at Baton Rouge General Hospital, aged 82, on January 1, 2015, from pancreatic cancer.

Charlene Smith, Douglas' niece by marriage, said that Douglas returned to live in East Baton Rouge Parish c. 2005: "She was always happy, always beautiful. You always saw her with all her makeup on. She never looked her age." Smith said that on Christmas 2014 Douglas gave her a Bible that she had signed. Douglas often added scriptural verses to her gifts.

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