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Nancy Jane Kulp (August 28, 1921 - February 3, 1991) was an American actress best known as "Miss Jane Hathaway" on the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies.

Early life

Kulp was born into an upper middle-class family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniamarker. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Florida State Universitymarker and worked on a master's degree in English and French at the University of Miamimarker.

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.

Acting career

She moved to Hollywoodmarker, Californiamarker, 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, Sabrina, and A Star is Born. After working in television on The Bob Cummings Show, she returned to movies in Forever, Darling, The Three Faces of Eve, The Parent Trap and The Aristocats.

Television appearances

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. She also appeared in several epsidoes of Perry Mason, The Jack Benny Program., 87th Precinct, The Twilight Zone and The Outlaws.

In 1962, she landed her breakout 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.

After The Beverly Hillbillies cancellation in 1971, Kulp kept busy, appearing in The Brian Keith Show and Sanford and Son.

Political career

In 1984, Kulp ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Pennsylvaniamarker, but was unsuccessful. As an opponent of a Republican incumbent, Bud Shuster, in a Republican district in a year in which U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan won a landslide reelection, Kulp was the underdog despite the otherwise favorable climate for liberal Democrats in Pennsylvania as a whole. To her dismay, Hillbillies co-star Buddy Ebsen supported Schuster and even appeared in an advertisement in which he labeled Kulp as "too liberal." Ebsen claimed that Kulp was exploiting her celebrity status and did not have a grasp on the issues. Shuster defeated Kulp with 67 percent of the vote.


Kulp was diagnosed with cancer in 1990, and underwent chemotherapy, which weakened her system. By 1991, the cancer had spread, and Kulp died on February 2 at a friend's home in Palm Desertmarker, Californiamarker, aged 69. She is interred at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintownmarker, Pennsylvania.

Personal life

Kulp was married for ten years to Charles Dacus. After her political defeat, Kulp worked for Juniata Collegemarker in Pennsylvania as an Artist in Residence. Later she taught acting and retired to a farm in Connecticutmarker and later, Palm Springsmarker.

Nancy Kulp was a member of Pi Beta Phi, Women's Fraternity. She also was Arsenio Hall's first guest on his talk show. She sat in with the house band.

Writers played a twist on naming Nancy's best-known character, Miss Jane Hathaway. They reversed Nancy's first and middle names, so Nancy Jane Kulp became Jane Nancy Hathaway. The character's middle name was revealed in the 1981 television movie The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies.


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