95 (passed away Jul. 6th, 2003)
Apr. 2nd, 1908
Belleville, Illinois, USA
Buddy Ebsen's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1993 - The Beverly Hillbillies
1985 - That's Dancing!
1961 - Breakfast at Tiffany's
1956 - Attack
1955 - Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
1938 - My Lucky Star
1938 - The Girl of the Golden West
1937 - Broadway Melody of 1938
1936 - Born to Dance
1935 - Broadway Melody of 1936
Guest TV Roles
Marshal Elmo Crane
Sheriff Jesse Sanders
Buddy Ebsen began his career as a dancer in the late 1920s in a Broadway chorus. He later formed a vaudeville act with his sister Vilma Ebsen, which also appeared on Broadway. In 1935 he and his sister went to Hollywood, where they were signed for the first of MGM's Eleanor Powell (I) movies, Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935). While Vilma retired from stage and screen shortly after this, Buddy starred in two further MGM movies with Powell. Two of his dancing partners were Frances Langford in Born to Dance (1936) and Judy Garland (I) in Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). They were a little bit taller than Shirley Temple, with whom he danced in Captain January (1936). MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer offered him an exclusive contract in 1938, but Ebsen turned it down. In spite of Mayer's warning that he would never get a job in Hollywood again, he was offered the role of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Ebsen agreed to change roles with Ray Bolger, who was cast as the Tin Man. Ebsen subsequently became ill from the silver make-up, however, and was replaced by Jack Haley (I). He returned to the stage, making only a few pictures before he got a role in the Disney production of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955). After this, he became a straight actor, and later won more fame in his own hit series, "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962) and "Barnaby Jones" (1973).
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 161-163. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
- Originally cast as the Tin Man in _The Wizard of Oz (1939)_ (qv), Buddy was hospitalized as a result of inhaling aluminum powder used as part of his make-up. One chorus of "We're Off to See the Wizard" in the movie and soundtrack album retain Ebsen's original vocals as the Tin Man, recorded before he was forced to leave the production. Because of the prolonged hospitalization, he was replaced by 'Jack Haley (I)' (qv) (whose reformulated make-up used pre-mixed aluminium dust), and Ebsen's scenes were re-shot using Haley. Footage of Ebsen as the Tin Man still exists, and was included as an extra with the U.S. 50th anniversary video release of _The Wizard of Oz (1939)_ (qv).
- Taught 'Judy Garland (I)' (qv) the shim-sham shimmy while they were at MGM.
- His father owned a dance studio, and when Ebsen was a young boy insisted that he take dance lessons.
- He and sister 'Vilma Ebsen' (qv) performed in vaudeville doing variations on the same theme -- with Vilma playing a dancing instructor who teaches the seemingly uncoordinated country doofas Buddy how to dance. A vaudeville showstopper in such shows as "Whoopee!," "Flying Colors" and "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934," they were known for a time as "The Baby Astaires."
- Initially wanted to become a doctor. He took premed courses at Rollins College and the University of Florida, but his mother persuaded him into show business.
- Son 'Dustin Ebsen' (qv) is married to 'Stan Freberg' (qv) 's daughter Donna.
- In the last two years of his life, he recorded his first CD in which he sang some of his own songs.