Nancy Jane Kulp (August 28, 1921 - February 3, 1991) was an Emmy Award-nominated American actress best known as "Miss Jane Hathaway" on the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies.
Kulp was born into an upper middle-class family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Florida State University
and worked on a master's degree in English
at the University of Miami
She left the University of Miami to volunteer for United States Navy service in World War II, for which she received several decorations, including the American Campaign Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.
She moved to Hollywood
, to work in a studio publicity
department, but director George Cukor
convinced her that she should work in front of the camera.
Thus began a career as a character actress. Her movie debut was in 1951 in The Model and the Marriage Broker. She appeared in subsequent films, including Shane (1953), Sabrina (1954), and A Star is Born (1954). After working in television on The Bob Cummings Show, she returned to movies in Forever, Darling (1956), The Three Faces of Eve (1957), The Parent Trap (1961) and The Aristocats (1970).
In 1955 she joined the cast of The Bob Cummings Show
(aka Love That Bob
) with Bob Cummings
, portraying pith-helmeted neighborhood bird-watcher Pamela Livingston.
Kulp appeared in one episode of I Love Lucy. In the 1957 episode "Lucy meets the Queen," she showed Lucy and Ethel how to properly curtsey.
In the 1962 The Twilight Zone episode, "The Fugitive", Kulp plays a cruel aunt.
In 1962, she landed the role of Jane Hathaway, the love-starved bird-watching perennial spinster, on The Beverly Hillbillies television series. She remained with the show until its cancellation in 1971. In 1967, she received an Emmy Award nomination for her role.
In the mid-70s, she appeared in several episodes of Sanford and Son.
In 1984, Kulp ran for the U.S. House of Representatives
as a Democrat
, but was unsuccessful. As an opponent of a Republican incumbent in a Republican district in a year in which Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory, Kulp was the underdog. To her dismay, Hillbillies
co-star Buddy Ebsen
supported her Republican
opponent, incumbent Bud Shuster
. Ebsen went so far as to tape an ad for Shuster, labeling Kulp as "too liberal
." Ebsen claimed she was exploiting her celebrity status and didn't know the issues. Shuster defeated Kulp with 67% of the vote.
Kulp was married for ten years to Charles Dacus, but admitted to being a lesbian during an interview at the age of 67.
After her political defeat, Kulp worked for Juniata College
as an Artist in Residence. Later she taught acting and retired to a farm in Connecticut
and later, Palm Springs
. Nancy Kulp died of cancer at her home in Palm Desert, California
on February 3
, at the age of 69, and was buried in Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
Nancy Kulp was rumored to have had a relationship with Elvia Allman.
She once told Raymond Bailey that she had a crush on Bea Benaderet. When Bea Benaderet heard about this, she was very rude to Nancy using as many inappropriate words as possible and threatened to have her fired if she made any advances.