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Nancy Kulp

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Nancy Kulp (August 28, 1921 – February 3, 1991) appeared in the recurring role of May Hopkins, mother of Officer "Hoppy" Hopkins on Sanford and Son, first appearing the episode titled The Sanford Arms (Season 5, Episode #4) in 1975. Nancy is perhaps best known as Miss Jane Hathaway on the popular CBS television series The Beverly Hillbillies.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Nancy was the only child of Robert I. Kulp, a traveling salesman, and his wife, Marjorie S. Kulp.[1] The family moved from Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, to Dade County, Florida, sometime before 1935.[2]


Nancy received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Florida State University in 1943, then known as the Florida State College for Women, and she started pursuing a master's degree in English and French at the University of Miami. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. Early in the 1940s she worked as a feature writer for the Miami Beach Tropics newspaper, writing profiles of celebrities, including Clark Gable and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[3][4]

In 1944 Kulp left the University of Miami to volunteer for service in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. As a member of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Ltjg. Kulp received several decorations, including the American Campaign Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. She left the service in 1946.

Kulp married Charles Malcolm Dacus on April 1, 1951, in Dade County, Florida; they divorced in 1961.[5]

Acting careerEdit

Shortly after her marriage, Kulp moved to Hollywood, California, to work in a studio publicity department, where director George Cukor convinced her that she should work in front of a camera.

Nancy made her film debut as a character actress in 1951 in The Model and the Marriage Broker.[6] She then appeared in other films, including Shane (1952), Sabrina (1954), and A Star Is Born (1954). Kulp has an uncredited bit part in a crowd scene as a fan of Donald O'Connor in one of the opening scenes in Anything Goes (1956). After working in television on The Bob Cummings Show, she returned to movies in Forever, Darling, The Three Faces of Eve, The Parent Trap (1961), and The Aristocats.

Nancy was once described as television's most homely girl or, as one reviewer put it, possessing the "face of a shriveled balloon, the figure of a string of spaghetti, and the voice of a bullfrog in mating season." Others described her as tall and prim and praised her comedic skills.[7]

Television appearancesEdit

In 1955, Nancy joined the cast of The Bob Cummings Show (a.k.a. Love That Bob) with Bob Cummings, portraying pith-helmeted neighborhood bird-watcher Pamela Livingstone. In 1956 she appeared in the episode "Johnny Bravo" of Clint Walker's ABC-TV series Cheyenne. She also appeared in 1955-56 as Anastasia in three episodes of the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life.

Kulp also appeared in one episode of I Love Lucy. In the 1957 episode "Lucy meets the Queen," she played an English maid and showed Lucy and Ethel how to properly curtsy before the Queen.[8] She also appeared in several episodes of Perry Mason, The Jack Benny Program, 87th Precinct, The Twilight Zone and The Outlaws, and she briefly played a drunken waitress with slightly slurred speech in a 1959 episode of Maverick, featuring James Garner, entitled "Full House." Kulp also played a housekeeper in a pilot for The William Bendix Show, which aired as the 1960-61 season finale of Mister Ed under the episode title "Pine Lake Lodge."

In 1962, Nancy 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.

In 1966 she appeared as Wilhemina Peterson in the movie "Night of the Grizzly", starring Clint Walker and Martha Hyer. After The Beverly Hillbillies was canceled in 1970, Kulp appeared on The Brian Keith Show and Sanford and Son. She also appeared in Broadway productions, including Morning's at Seven in 1981.


Kulp was diagnosed with cancer in 1990, and she underwent chemotherapy. By 1991 the cancer had spread, and Kulp died on February 3 at a friend's home in Palm Desert, California.[9][10] She is interred at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.[11]


  1. 1930 U.S. Federal Census Record, viewed on on 7 June 2010.
  2. US Federal Census Record, viewed on on 7 June 2010.
  3. Nancy Kulp, 69, Dies; Film and TV Actress, The New York Times, February 5, 1991
  4. Nancy Kulp; Foil in 'Beverly Hillbillies'
  5. Marriage license on, which cites the marriage of Nancy Jane Kulp and Charles Malcolm Dacus as occurring in Dade County, Florida, in 1951. The marriage certificate number is 1315 and is held in Volume 7097.
  6. The Model and the Marriage Broker at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
  7. "Los Angeles Times."
  8. Lucy Meets The Queen, I Love Lucy episode at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
  9. "New York Times."
  10. Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars!, by Howard Johns, Barricade Books, Fort Lee, NJ, ISBN 978-1569802694 126 pages, OCLC 54392060 LCCN 2004041116, 2004.
  11. Nancy Kulp (1921 - 1991) - at Find A Grave Memorial

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