Donna Douglas took a break from The Beverly Hillbillies to star in a film with Elvis Presley
The actress snagged the role of Frankie in the 1966 film "Frankie and Johnny."
Many opportunities seem to follow when you gain stardom from being on a popular series like The Beverly Hillbillies. For Donna Douglas, the chance of a lifetime came when she was offered a role in a film that starred legendary musician Elvis Presley.
She started her journey by participating in beauty contests and snagging small parts in movies like Career and Li'l Abner. During an interview with Valley Times in 1965, Douglas revealed that Beverly Hillbillies producer Paul Henning asked her if she could handle the role of Elly May.
"I just looked at him and grinned," she recalled. "Could I handle Elly May? Why it was just like my own life." Although many critics believed the series wasn't a good look, that didn't stop it from being the No. 1 show in audience ratings. The cast caught the attention of millions of fans, resulting in a rise in fame.
In the interview, Douglas then talked about how she got cast opposite Elvis Presley in Frankie and Johnny.
"After we finished the season for 'Hillbillies,' I went to Australia to publicize the show," she added. "I could have gone on a personal appearance tour in this country during our summer vacation, but something told me not to. And sure enough, when I got back, they called me about the picture."
Douglas played the role of Frankie in the film, and it was her first starring movie role. The actress had to take a break from The Beverly Hillbillies to accept the part.
Once she finished filming, she had to go back to being Elly May. Douglas played the part for three years before she got the film role and was under contract with the television show for another three.
The actress lived by one phrase during her career: "You can have success if you can handle it." She handled her success perfectly with her "head in the air and feet on the ground."
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So the sentences:
" The actress had to take a break from The Beverly Hillbillies to accept the part."
"Once she finished filming, she had to go back to being Elly May", don't make total sense.
It's not likely that " Frankie and Johnny" was filmed during the one episode that Donna didn't appear on TBH, but more likely that the series took a hiatus while DD was involved in her role on F&J.
As to Ray Collins, as a courtesy to Raymond Burr (probably at his insistence) it was stated somewhere they kept his credit active to continue his health benefits. And when he passed, to honor his contribution as an actor.
A scene from the movie with Donna, Elvis and Harry Morgan.