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'Beverly Hillibillies' Actress Sues Over 'Elly May' Barbie

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 06, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some would be honored to be forever immortalized in Barbie form. But Donna Douglas, the actress who played Elly May Clampett in CBS' hit series The Beverly Hillbillies, is not one of them.

In response to Mattel's "Elly May Barbie," Douglas is suing the company, alleging that it used her name and likeness without her permission.

For the 9 years that The Beverly Hillbillies was on air, CNN reports that Donna Douglas was the only woman to ever play Elly May Clampett, meaning that the public closely identifies the character with her likeness.

She alleges that the doll, which seems to take on some of her attributes, is based on her unique physical appearance.

(Photo credit: Mattel/CBS Studios)

The doll's packaging also includes a photo of Douglas donning her Elly May Clampett gear.

With Mattel refusing to comment, there is definitely a missing piece to this story.

As with most television series, it's likely that the actors who took part in The Beverly Hillbillies signed contracts that permitted the studio to utilize the actors' likenesses and names for character-related merchandising purposes in exchange for a cut of the profits.

So this blogger's guess is that the Elly May Clampett doll is actually the result of a licensing deal between Mattel and CBS that rests upon rights granted in that original contract.

This would mean that Douglas didn't have to give her permission and is only entitled to contractually obligated compensations.

If this prediction turns out to be correct, Donna Douglas' suit will most likely be dismissed.

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