Image by trainman74 via FlickrThe U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana is a long way from Beverly Hills, but this week, actress Donna Douglas, who starred as sexy, but naive Elly May Clampett for 274 episodes of CBS' cornpone comedy classic The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971), filed suit against El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel for marketing an "Elly May Barbie" doll without her permission.
The case before U.S. District Court Judge Frank J. Polozola, Douglas v. Mattel (Case No. 3:11-cv-00297) includes claims alleging trademark infringement, violation of the Lanham Act [15 U.S.C. sec. 1051 et seq], violation of right to publicity and appropriation against the toymaker for including a photo of Douglas in character in its packaging. Her suit alleges the defendant made unauthorized use of her name, image and likeness of a "character closely identified with her."
Mattel created a series of "nostalgia dolls" from beloved tv series besides Elly May Clampett, including the late Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha from Bewitched and Barbara Eden's Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. What, no Alice Kramden?
If the 77-year-old Douglas ultimately prevails, she should be able to purchase a lot of vittles.