Nancy Kulp didn't realize just how funny she was
"The audience was so hysterical laughing at me that I went backstage and cried."
You may remember Nancy Kulp as Jane Hathaway, Mr. Drysdale's long-suffering secretary on The Beverly Hillbillies. The character's straight-laced nature always brought laughs to viewers. As it turns out, the actress who plays Miss Jane, Nancy Kulp, took to comedy like a duck takes to water, even if she didn't immediately mean to.
In an interview with the Longview Daily News, Kulp said that many of the laughs she gets on her own are unintentional. She said, "When I'm being serious, people think I'm being funny. It used to bother me, but I'm getting used to it."
She first discovered her comedic talent during high school, when she participated in a play her senior year. She said, "I was supposed to be the prim and proper wife of a nutty professor, but it didn't turn out that way. The audience was so hysterical laughing at me that I went backstage and cried."
Kulp had since come around to enjoying her talents, even learning to appreciate the laughs. She said, "A sense of humor is the greatest saving grace any human being can have."
Kulp's comedic timing and energy made such an impression in viewers' minds that they still recognized her, years after The Beverly Hillbillies left television. In an interview with the Abilene Reporter-News, she said, "I cannot go anywhere in this country without being recognized." She explained, "They yell at me — 'Miss Jane, Miss Jane!' It's really remarkable how the memory of that show has stayed in the public's mind and memory."
Of course, playing Jane has not only affected the way that Kulp interacts with others but also the way she views herself. She commented, "I've been typecast as Jane Hathaway for so long, that I might as well be her."