By Tom Joyce
July 26, 2013
What happens when a “Beverly Hillbillies” star comes to Mayberry? That will be answered next Thursday when Donna Douglas (aka Elly May Clampett) visits Mount Airy.
Douglas will be joining Betty Lynn, a Mount Airy resident who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” for an autograph and photo session. It will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Museum.
The event was announced by Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council.
Lynn, who moved to Mount Airy in 2007 and frequently makes public appearances at arts council and other events, was the catalyst in the scheduling of “Elly May’s” visit, according to Jones.
“Donna contacted us because she was going to be in the area and she had friends who were dying to meet Betty,” Jones explained. Douglas is to be accompanied Thursday by a friend from Greensboro.
Mayor Deborah Cochran was elated over the news of Douglas’ upcoming visit. “I think this is huge,” said the mayor, a self-professed “mega-fan” of “The Beverly Hillbillies” television series, both during its prime-time run and in daily reruns. It chronicled members of a mountain clan who suddenly become rich after oil is discovered on their property.
“I watched it every day when I came home from school,” added Cochran. She has a special fondness to the Douglas character, who kept various “critters” at the Clampett mansion. “I kind of related to Elly May. I had a pet raccoon and duck, and I just loved all the animals,” the mayor said.
Douglas, who’ll turn 80 in September, beat out about 500 other young ladies in the early 1960s for the roll of Elly May on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
The show, also with Buddy Ebsen, was an instant hit and remained on the air until 1971. It was part of a CBS-TV lineup during the 1960s that included several shows with rural themes, including “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“I think we all grew up with ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’” the mayor said. “We knew the theme song and everything.”
Since “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Douglas has appeared sporadically in several TV shows and movies. She now travels all over the United States and foreign countries sharing her story with churches, ladies conferences, youth groups, schools, conventions and various civic organizations.
She offers an inspirational message of living to one’s potential with God’s help.
“Today the roll of Elly May has been a beautiful little door opener to share my heart and a slice out of my life with others,” Douglas said in a statement issued by the Surry Arts Council.