Nancy Kulp didn't realize just how funny she was

"The audience was so hysterical laughing at me that I went backstage and cried."

You may remember Nancy Kulp as Jane Hathaway, Mr. Drysdale's long-suffering secretary on The Beverly Hillbillies. The character's straight-laced nature always brought laughs to viewers. As it turns out, the actress who plays Miss Jane, Nancy Kulp, took to comedy like a duck takes to water, even if she didn't immediately mean to.

 In an interview with the Longview Daily News, Kulp said that many of the laughs she gets on her own are unintentional. She said, "When I'm being serious, people think I'm being funny. It used to bother me, but I'm getting used to it."

She first discovered her comedic talent during high school, when she participated in a play her senior year. She said, "I was supposed to be the prim and proper wife of a nutty professor, but it didn't turn out that way. The audience was so hysterical laughing at me that I went backstage and cried."

Kulp had since come around to enjoying her talents, even learning to appreciate the laughs. She said, "A sense of humor is the greatest saving grace any human being can have."

Kulp's comedic timing and energy made such an impression in viewers' minds that they still recognized her, years after The Beverly Hillbillies left television. In an interview with the Abilene Reporter-News, she said, "I cannot go anywhere in this country without being recognized." She explained, "They yell at me — 'Miss Jane, Miss Jane!' It's really remarkable how the memory of that show has stayed in the public's mind and memory."

Of course, playing Jane has not only affected the way that Kulp interacts with others but also the way she views herself. She commented, "I've been typecast as Jane Hathaway for so long, that I might as well be her."


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23 Comments

OldRog 3 months ago
Nancy was also frequently on The Bob Cummings Show (Love That Bob) as the uniformed leader of a group of bird watchers.
CoreyC 3 months ago
Nancy Kulp played a British maid who taught Lucy and Ethel how to courtesy for the Queen.
WordsmithWorks 3 months ago
She was good as one of the counselors in the 1961 version of the Parent Trap.
LoveMETV22 3 months ago

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Fortunately Nancy Kulp matured after that play in her senior year at High School. Enjoy her role as
Miss Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies, but always fun to see her in other series as well.
CoreyC LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Nancy never forgave Buddy Ebsen in not backing her for Congress.
CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
Outside of TBH, I remember her as the mean aunt in the Twilight Zone episode "The Fugitive". Very different from Miss Hathaway.
That was a great episode.
harlow1313 3 months ago
During the show's initial run, rather than find her character funny, I thought her unusual. I didn't dislike her, but in my boy brain, I knew her character was odd.
cperrynaples harlow1313 3 months ago
Did you suspect she was more interested in Elly Mae than Jethro...LOL!
harlow1313 cperrynaples 3 months ago
Thoughts like you suggest don't make me titter. Her orientation is to me, harmless behavior.
Hee! Hee! Do you mean she was (whispers) gay? Recess is over. Go back to class.
hootrs23 cperrynaples 3 months ago
she was married to a MAN from 1951-1961. she didn't actually ''come out'' til 1989.
justjeff 3 months ago
Nany Kulp was a student at my alma mater (Miami Beach Senior High School). It's been over 50 years, but I remember seeing her picture in one of the school old year books (I believe it was 1937) that were in the school library. She had waist-length blonde hair, but that same "Plain Jane" look...

I couldn't believe she went to Beach High... but then again, so did director Mitch Glazer, Kim Hunter, Andy Garcia, Mickey Rourke, "Uncle Luke" [Luther Campbell - rapper from the 2 Live Crew], Barbara Walters (her father, Lou was running the local "Latin Quarter" nightclub on Palm Island in the 1940s), Skip Bertman (former University of Miami Coach - and one of my phys.-ed. teachers when I was there), Roy Firestone (former ESPN commentator- we were both in drama class together, and I used to get Roy bookings at local hotels to do an impressions act), Ellen Barkin, Desmond Child...and of course, ME!

In fact, good old Miami Beach Senior High has a LOT of impressive alumni: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Beach_Senior_High_School
327053 justjeff 3 months ago
Wow that’s quite a list!! By the way, that Wrecking Crew documentary was outstanding!!!
So much talent behind the scenes! 👍😄
justjeff 327053 3 months ago
Glad you enjoyed it...
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
Nancy Kulp was hilarious as Miss Jane. One of my favourite TBH characters.
daDoctah 3 months ago
She was in one episode each of the first and last seasons of "77 Sunset Strip", and I'd argue that the later appearance was quite a departure from the ones she usually played.
Runeshaper 3 months ago
"A sense of humor is the greatest saving grace any human being can have." I like that (-:

Kulp was GREAT!
cperrynaples 3 months ago
Kulp did a lot of TV both before and after TBH, but you could make an arguement that everything she did was a variation of Miss Hathaway!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 3 months ago
Or rather ... Nancy Kulp.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Kulp
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 3 months ago
Well a friendly debate on "arguement" or "argument" might follow. So I guess the question could be,
" does one wish to ?"
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