The Beverly Hillbillies' Donna Douglas Sues Mattel for Unauthorized Elly May Doll

An Elly May Barbie? But does it come with its own critters and cement pond?

By , Columnist

Even those born after the Eisenhower administration know the story of the family who struck bubblin' crude at their backwoods Texas home, then packed up and moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimmin' pools, movie stars. Yes, I had to Google those lyrics.

The television series, The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran from 1962-1971, ranks among the longest running and most watched sitcoms in history. Paving the way for later culture-shocked characters such as The Nanny and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Hillbillies also created new-found fame for most of its stars.

Ellymay.jpgPlaying the character of Elly May Clampett, the culinary-challenged, critter-lovin,' curvaceous tomboy daughter of Jed, Donna Douglas appeared in all nine seasons of the program and gained iconic pop culture status for her role. Even now, 40 years after the show's finale, Donna still enjoys making public appearances in her signature pink blouse and blue jean Elly May costume.

Donna books events at ladies conferences and church events, and no doubt still appeals to the original members of her audience who loved her when they were in diapers and love her still, now that she is in diapers.

Since the show first aired, resulting in millions of nuclear families rushing to get the best seat in front of their 8-inch black and white RCA Luminox, there has been no shortage of Elly May paper and rag dolls produced and sold. A site claiming to be the official website of the star welcomes fans and even offers special autographed editions of her Barbie, if exclusively purchased from the website. However, on May 4, Ms. Douglas filed suit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana against Mattel for creating an Elly May Barbie doll, claiming the use of her image and character were not authorized.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and includes a court order barring Mattel from using Donna's "name, likeness, image and distinctive attributes." There has been no comment from Mattel. Surely, Mattel should have sought Donna's approval first, but, let's be honest here - any 77-year-old former pop culture icon turned real estate agent should be grateful that a doll has immortalized the fact that, at one time, her breasts didn't touch her knees.

Several companies in recent months have been sued for producing dolls in the likeness of celebrities. In January of this year, punk rock singer Patricia Day, of the Danish band HorrorPops, filed suit against Mattel over a doll in their Hard Rock Barbie collection; Kim Kardashian sued Pipedream Products in September 2010 over the "Kinky Kim Filthy Love Doll," and let's not forget the Miley Cyrus sex doll with "3 achey love holes" just last month.

At least no one will be producing a sex doll in the current likeness of Donna Douglas. But then again, you never know. To each his own.

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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