Saturday, January 3, 2015

Goodbye, Elly May!

Elly May Clampett has died.
Now it may have been Ronnie Spector that sent a young Chet Coppock running to the bathroom after any given television performance ... but for me there were really only a few "hot chicks" from that era that let me know that something unusual was happening down there.  (Suffice to say that we all have different trigger points, right???)
Well, Elly May Clampett was one of them.  
Mary Ann ... (ALWAYS Mary Ann ... and never Ginger) ... was another.
Jeannie rather than Samantha ... Agent 99 (although Mrs. Peel was quite aPEELing, too) ... but not Honey West.  (Who would have EVER thought, back in the day of "throw-away" TV Sex Kittens, that Diana Rigg would go on to have the incredibly distinguished career she did ... STILL producing top caliber work on stage and screen in high profile places like "Game Of Thrones" to this day!!!)
Wrangler Jane from F-Troop over Miss Jane from The Beverly Hillbillies.  (No real contest there!)
Betty over Wilma.  (OK, too much information ... I'd better stop here!)
Truth is, we grew up in an era of VERY sexy women on tv ... no matter how desperately censors may have tried to cover up this fact at the time (Barbara Eden's navel, for example), WE knew ... we were at the right age ... pre-teen / early adolescence ... things we didn't even understand were starting to kick in and hormones were raging ... and Donna Douglas was right up near the top of the heap ... at least for me anyway!
(Don't think for a minute that those up-close-and-personal shots of Elly May kissing her critters were designed to achieve anything else!!!)
She did other stuff, too, of course.  Although I wasn't a major fan (or fanatic) of the show, apparently Donna's appearance on "The Twilight Zone" ranks "classic episode" status for "Eye Of The Beholder" with that series' die-hard fans.
She also starred opposite Elvis Presley in "Frankie And Johnny", one of The King's weakest outings in my opinion.  (But deep down, you know that Elvis chose her with one specific reason in mind!)
"The Beverly Hillbillies" ran for nine seasons ... from 1962 to 1971 ... that's a LONG time to stretch one joke ... and after a couple of years I had already outgrown the premise and was looking for something a little more challenging to devote my television time to.
She was 81 ... damn!!!  Hard to believe that Elly May Clampett was TWENTY YEARS OLDER THAN ME when I was watching her on the small screen back in the day.  That means that in 1971, when "The Beverly Hillbillies" was leaving the air and I was graduating high school and about to turn 18, Elly May Clampett was 38 years old?!?!  Seriously?!?!  And still playing the Country Bumpkin Cutie?!?!  Man, talk about shattered dreams.
Elly May at the Cee-Ment Pond

Wanna REALLY take things down a notch?  That means that Donna Douglas was born in 1933 ... the same year my MOM was born!!!  So I guess that means that horny little 11 year old kk was sitting there lusting after somebody on tv that was his MOM's age?!?!?  (Hang on a second ... I need to go wash my eyes out with soap!!!)
I was surprised to learn that Jethro ... Max Baer, Jr. ... was still alive and 77 years old.  First of all, for some reason I thought he had died YEARS ago ... and secondly I couldn't believe that he was YOUNGER than his sister on the show.  The others, of course, are all long since dearly departed.
"The Beverly Hillbillies" was part of CBS' "down home" television landscape of that era ... shows like "The Andy Griffith Show" had already found an audience for this type of humor ... and spin-offs and copy cats like "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres" would soon follow.  Even "Hee Haw" was designed to give "Laugh-In" a run for the money.  It was a different time, to be sure.  The closest thing I can think of in recent memory was that God-awful Paris Hilton / Nicole Richie series ... and I never even gave that one a shot!
Anyway, a whole lot of typing here without saying much of anything ... except to say that I loved you, Donna, back in the day.  (When I was about ten years old, my Grandmother told me that if I wrote in to all the big television studios and requested them, they'd send me back autographed pictures of my favorite stars and shows ... and lo and behold, most of them did!!!  So I started a photograph / scrapbook album ... LONG since lost to the ages ... that had beautiful, signed black and white photos of the stars of "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Bonanza", "Batman" and many, many others.  In addition to a group cast photo, I remember also having a "Donna Douglas Only" shot that she signed for me ... a beautiful photo that I can still picture in my mind today.  I'll miss ya, Donna ... thanks for the memories ... and that little extra boost toward growing up!