You’ve probably heard by now that Donna Douglas, who played Elly Mae Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, died on Thursday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was either 81 or 82, depending on which news source you read. I wasn’t a fan of the show, but it was hard not to be aware of it; and I did see it from time to time in reruns. From the LA Times:
The show — about the down-home Clampetts who strike it rich with an Ozarks oil well and move to California — became an immediate hit when it began airing on CBS in 1962. It starred Buddy Ebsen as patriarch Jed, Irene Ryan as Granny, Max Baer Jr. as Jethro and Douglas as Elly May, a buxom tomboy character who had curly blond pigtails, wore gingham and blue jeans and loved her “critters.” ….
After winning beauty contests in her home state, Douglas headed to New York City in the mid-1950s in search of modeling jobs and wound up on television as a billboard girl on “The Steve Allen Show.” She took acting lessons and landed a few parts in other TV series before writer and producer Paul Henning asked her if she thought she’d be right for his new show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
“I just looked at him and grinned,” Douglas told AP Hollywood reporter Bob Thomas in 1965. “Could I handle Elly May? Why, it was just like my own life.” ….
She had to retrieve the Southern accent she had tried to lose, and she had no trouble with the dogs, skunks, mountain lion, chimpanzee and other animals Elly May adored on the series.
“I loved doing Elly May,” the actress would recall. “And, of course, ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ was a story about the American dream. No matter who tried to slicker us or take advantage of us, we always came out on top. We were never the losers. We set a good example.”
I hadn’t realized until I read it in the Times obituary, that Donna Douglas also appeared in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes ever.
Douglas appeared for just a few minutes in the final moments of the second season episode, “The Eye of the Beholder,” written by series creator Rod Serling. The episode aired in 1960, years before “The Beverly Hillbillies” in 1962. But unlike “Hillbillies,” where her good looks were used as a punch line, here they became part of a ghoulish twist. In fact, it was one of the best, and most memorable, twist endings in the show’s history.
The episode recounted the recovery of a woman named Janet Tyler after a series of medical procedures attempting to fix a face that has apparently been completely deformed. While she deals with the doctors and nurses in the hospital, we see her head wrapped completely in bandages.
In fact, it was actress Maxine Stuart who played Tyler for these scenes. But in the episode’s final moments, the bandages are removed and Tyler’s face is revealed to be Douglas’.
“No change. No change at all,” the doctor laments. And then we see the face of the medical staff — snouted and horrific. But in this world, it’s Douglas’ face that’s the monstrosity.
This ending is regularly listed among the top “Twilight Zone” endings of all time, and the image of a horrified Douglas being restrained by the bizarre-looking doctor is one that’s made its way onto many T-shirts and posters.
Here’s that final scene. The sound is a little low, but you’ll get the idea.
Here’s the full episode:
Douglas later appeared in another Twilight Zone episode, “Cavender Is Missing,” and was a guest on many television programs, including Bachelor Father, 77 Sunset Strip, Adam 12, Night Gallery, Route 66, and Surfside 6.
Also on Thursday, instant karma struck Florida State University, its football team, and quarterback/accused rapist Jameis Winston when the team got blown out by Oregon in the Rose Bowl, thanks to Winston’s poor performance. From The Washington Post: It all implodes on Jameis Winston.
Florida State had not lost a game since November 2012, and quarterback Jameis Winston was personally undefeated since high school. That stretch included a national championship last season, plus a Heisman Trophy for Winston….
In the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinal game, the Seminoles were trailing at halftime, 18-13, but that seemed no cause for worry, as the team had staged second-half comebacks all season. Even after a pair of fumbles by FSU running back Dalvin Cook had helped Oregon take a 39-20 lead late in the third quarter, it still seemed entirely possible that Winston could lead his team back.
Down 19 points, Florida State faced a fourth-and-5 situation and decided to go for it. That’s when the previously unflappable Winston committed a mind-boggling turnover:
Whoa!! (Read twitter reactions at the WaPo link.)
On the sidelines, lip-readers picked up FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher telling Winston something that looked like, “If you don’t calm the [expletive] down, you’re going to the bench.”
Winston did not calm, um, down, at least if an interception on his second throw after that costly fumble was any indication. Eventually, Winston did go to the bench, but that was mostly because the game proceeded to get even more out of hand.
It was 59-20 when backup quarterback Sean Maguire entered the game, and that’s how it ended. Winston is widely expected to declare for the NFL draft, meaning that the Rose Bowl was almost certainly his last college game, and it certainly did not go the way he wanted.
You have to wonder if any NFL team will want to sign Winston considering the league’s current problem with domestic violence.
After the game, Oregon players taunted Winston by chanting “no means no” along with the crowd. Th
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement to the Associated Press that the behavior was inappropriate.
“This is not what our program stands for, and the student-athletes will be disciplined internally,” Helfrich said.
Winston was never charged after a woman accused him of raping her in 2012.
Oregon has its own problems with sexual assaults by athletes.
Three former basketball players were suspended in June for a minimum of four years after a freshman student filed a report alleging they sexually assaulted her. Prosecutors decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the players, who said the sexual contact was consensual.
Winston was recently “cleared” of wrongdoing in a joke of a hearing; Vice obtained a published the entire transcript. Read all about it at the link.
This is so sad. A 7-year-0ld girl who survived a plane crash that killed the rest of her family went in search of help.
Larry Wilkins, 71, was watching the local news at his Buckberry Trail home at around 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) when he said he heard a knock.“The little girl come to my door,” Wilkins told NBC News in a telephone interview late Friday. “She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose. She was barefoot, only had one sock on.”
“She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down,” he said. “She asked if she could stay here. I said, ‘Honey, what can I do for you?’ I got a wash cloth and cleaned her up. And of course called 911.”
Marty Gutzler, 49, and Kimberly Gutzler, 45; their daughter, 9-year-old Piper Gutzler; and Sierra Walder, 14, Piper’s cousin were killed in the crash, according to Kentucky State Police. The identity of the 7-year-old survivor was not released. The victims were from Nashville, Illinois, police said.
So heartbreaking. I hope that brave little girl has other family members who will take care of her.
Many NYPD officers are continuing their long-running tantrum against NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. They’re enraged because de Blasio said that he has warned his black son to be careful in any interactions with police. Because de Blasio dared to tell the truth, the police union has instigated a work slowdown; and officers have turned their backs on the mayor in at least two public appearances, including the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos. The New York Times editorialized about this disgraceful behavior twice. As the editors point out, de Blasio campaigned on ending the unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policy and reforming “policing excesses.” The editors stated that the public wants NYPD officers to
1. Don’t violate the Constitution.
2. Don’t kill unarmed people.
3. Do your jobs.
Meanwhile, according to Think Progress, some NYC residents are “benefiting from the NYPD’s work stoppage.”
As a result of what the New York Post is calling a “virtual work stoppage,” tickets and summonses for minor offenses have plummeted by 94 percent and overall arrests have fallen 66 percent. Theoretically, the practice will strain police budgets, which rely on fines from tickets to make-up for funding shortfalls.
Although it’s not the intended goal of the work stoppage, the decline in arrests could save New Yorkers money. The city residents who are normally hit with tickets for minor violations tend to be low income individuals who are forced to pay up a hefty portion of their paychecks.
The city began following the broken-windows style of policing in the early 1980s, a strategy championed by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton which focuses on eliminating low-level crime to prevent more violent offenses in the city’s neighborhoods. But a report earlier this year by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan found that the NYPD’s practice of arresting more people for minor offenses since 1980 has disproportionately affected young black and Latino men.
While de Blasio and Bratton have followed through on their promise to reform the city’s stop and frisk practices and the mayor announced in November that police would stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possessions, there are still racial biases in police practices throughout the city that result in a tougher financial burden on those already struggling to make ends meet.
And New Yorkers of all income levels are also saving money on one of the most consistent ways the city can slam people with tickets— parking violations are down by 92 percent, from 14,699 to just 1,241 this year.
A few more headlines:
CBS Boston, Large Sea Turtle Rescued From Cape Cod Beach.
Gizmodo, Why the Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Always Work.
CNN World, What killed the Maya? ‘Blue Hole’ offers clues.
Nature World News, Audubon Bird Watchers Get an ‘Unusual’ Show, this New Year.
AP via USA Today, Accused plotter of U.S. embassy bombings dies in N.Y.
The Guardian, Prince Andrew named in US lawsuit over underage sex claims.
More about this at Politico, Woman who sued convicted billionaire over sex abuse levels claims at his friends.
and The Daily Mail, Prince Andrew ‘lobbied the US government to go easy on Jeffrey Epstein’: Palace denies claims royal tried to use his influence to help billionaire paedophile during 2008 police probe
I thought I would share some recent stories about wildlife that crossed my path. The first comes from NPR’s Weekend Edition. I was running my payday weekend errands yesterday and had a “driveway moment” in the parking lot of my grocery store. Rebecca Davis was reporting on her trip to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. She was there to see gorillas in the wild. I couldn’t pass up a chance to experience, vicariously of course, a visit to a group of wild gorillas. The icing on this cake, this group had a pair of young twins. You may not know that twins are rare for most large mammals, so this was a chance of a lifetime for the reporter and me! Listening to the quiet whispers of the reporter and guide transported me into the forest along with them.
When I decided to change my major from mathematics as an undergraduate, I chose zoology. I had long been awestruck by the incredibly magnificent animals of Africa. Elephants, giraffes, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, what’s not to love? As a child, after seeing the film Born Free, I read all of the books written by Joy Adamson and her husband, George. I dreamed of going to Africa, if for no other reason than to visit the grave of Elsa the lioness. PBS’ Nature had an episode last year entitled Elsa’s Legacy. I have to admit that I cried, nearly uncontrollably watching this episode, mourning once again Elsa’s death. Both Joy and George met tragic ends with Joy being murdered by a former employee and George being killed by poachers.
At the same time I switched to my zoology major, something remarkable was taking place in the scientific world. Dr. Louis B. Leakey, the renowned archaeologist and anthropologist, had sent three young women into the field to study primates; Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees, Dian Fossey to study gorillas and Birute Galdikas to study orangutans. Tragically, Dian Fossey, author of Gorillas in the Mist, was murdered by poachers in 1985.
My major professor and advisor in college was Dr. Llewellyn Ehrhart. Although he was a vertebrate zoologist and mammologist, he chose to focus his field work and research on sea turtles. His mentor was the renowned turtle biologist, Dr. Archie Carr. Check out the links to find out more about Dr. Carr and the group he founded, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the National Wildlife Refuge named for him I came across a report on leatherback turtles on Treehugger yesterday. Several species of sea turtles nest on Florida’s coasts. Each species is listed as endangered, and leatherbacks are of particular concern. I have closely followed the efforts here in Florida to protect these species, where volunteers patrol the beaches to locate nests, cover and mark them. In addition to human poachers, which are relatively rare along America’s coastlines these days, there are natural predators. Raccoons, in particular, dig into the nests for the eggs. The volunteers put wide spaced wire grates over the nests to keep the raccoons from destroying the incubating eggs. The leatherback story has some wonderful photos that accompany it. You can see how enormous these prehistoric creatures are in comparison to humans in a couple of the photos. Sea turtles evolved during the late Jurassic period, while dinosaurs (oh, my!) were still walking the earth.
Treehugger, once again, has a video of a polar bear in a zoo in the Netherlands who used a stone to fracture the glass in the pool habitat of his enclosure. Possibly the bear was just trying to get the attention of the two zoo visitors who were standing in front of the glass. Who knows? It certainly made me wonder why those guys were even there in the first place, since they obviously weren’t interested in the magnificent animal right in front of them. I couldn’t find any other recorded instances of a polar bear using a “tool” which is what makes this incident so fascinating. I will save my opposition to zoos and marine parks for another post. I will say that many larger, well funded zoos have improved the once bare and small enclosures with larger and enriched habitats. These changes have certainly improved the lives of captive animals during their lifetime imprisonment.
This link is to a sad, but not unusual story, also from Treehugger. The story entitled Half of Republic of Congo’s Forest Elephants Killed in Past Five Years naturally caught my eye. There are other links on the page to other stories about recent assaults on the elephant populations in Sumatra, Cameroon and the Eastern Congo. This information from Scientific American will give you an idea of how much damage has been done to African elephants in the past 80 years.
In 1930, there were between five and 10 million wild African elephants, plying the entire African continent in large bands. Just 60 years later, when they were added to the international list of critically endangered species, only about 600,000 were scattered across a few African countries. Today that number is likely less than 500,000.
This massive decline in African elephant populations is due to a combination of poaching for ivory and habitat loss. With an ivory ban still in place, but might not be for much longer, and stepped up conservation efforts in many areas, some countries are seeing a slight increase in numbers of individuals. Unfortunately not every country or areas within the countries are on board with protecting this magnificent species. Population declines of 50% for already endangered species can spell their imminent extinction. When the size of the gene pool is dramatically reduced, rare traits or mutations are more likely to occur and, thus, weaken the species.
A final dose of science geekiness is an interview with Dr. Sylvia Earle, featured on the American Public Media radio show, On Being. Dr. Earle has been at the forefront of ocean exploration and discovery for about 50 years. She will be 77 later this year, and Krista began the interview this way:
Sylvia Earle: That’s the joy of being a scientist and explorer. You do what little children do: you ask questions. Like who, what, why, when, where, how? (laughs). And you never stop and you never cease being surprised. It’s just impossible to be bored.
Ms. Tippett: And you’re still diving, aren’t you?
Dr. Earle: Well, yeah. I breathe. So I can dive. (laughter)
Dr. Earle is the only person who has walked on the bottom of the ocean,in a specially designed, pressurized suit, similar to the suits worn by astronauts. She is one of the leading voices on protecting the Earth’s oceans. As I listened to the interview, the child like sense of wonder and excitement in her voice was uplifting and helped me recall that same feeling within myself. Despite the fact she has witnessed the decline of species and habitat in oceans around the world, there is no despair in her voice or her message. If you do nothing else today, please listen to this delightful, informative and hopeful discussion with a truly amazing woman. I seriously doubt that the phrase I CAN’T has ever been a part of her vocabulary.
Whether it is development, a need for fuel or simply money, so many species are on the brink of extinction worldwide at the hands of humans. For me, a world without non-human animals is not a place worth living in. Our species’ need to commodify and conquer everything around us must stop. Science is how our eyes will be opened, which is why science education is so critical now more than ever. Will we learn to appreciate the wonders and marvels of the natural world surrounding us before it is too late?
I will leave you with my favorite quote, one which sums up my feelings toward our planet and all the life upon it. It’s from Henry Beston’s book The Outermost House:
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”