'Hillbilly' Sues Mattel Over Copycat Barbie Doll
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The actress who played Elly May Clampett on the hit television series "The Beverly Hillbillies" is suing toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., claiming the company used her name and likeness for a Barbie doll without her authorization.
The federal suit filed Wednesday in Baton Rouge, La., says packaging for the "Elly May" Barbie doll features a photo of Donna Douglas portraying the character. Douglas says she never endorsed the doll or gave Mattel permission to use her name to promote its sale before the toy maker introduced the doll in December 2010.
From 1962 to 1971, Douglas appeared in all 274 episodes of the CBS comedy show about a poor family that moves to Beverly Hills after striking oil on their land.
A Mattel spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Douglas lives in Zachary, near Baton Rouge, and continues to make public appearances and speaking engagements in connection with the show, according to one of her attorneys, Charles von Simson.
"Depending on their age, people remember the show immediately and they remember her," he said of Douglas, now 77. "It's something she gets a lot of fan interest from."
Von Simson said Mattel made other "nostalgia dolls" of iconic TV characters, including Barbara Eden's from "I Dream of Jeannie" and the late Elizabeth Montgomery's from "Bewitched."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring Mattel from using her "name, likeness, image and distinctive attributes."
In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Douglas said she felt at ease playing the role because, like her character, she grew up a poor Southern tomboy.
"Elly has always been good for me," the Louisiana native said. "That was a slice out of my life, a very happy slice out of my life."