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).
- After seeing Ebsen in _Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)_ (qv), the creator of _"The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962)_ (qv) wanted him to play family patriarch Jed Clampett. At the time, Ebsen was thinking of retiring, but the producers sent him a copy of the script, and he changed his mind.
- Appeared in three musical film extravaganzas starring tap great 'Eleanor Powell (I)' (qv).
- 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."
- One of his last roles was a gag cameo in _The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)_ (qv) in which 'Jim Varney' (qv) played Jed. Ebsen showed up as Barnaby Jones.
- Taught 'Judy Garland (I)' (qv) the shim-sham shimmy while they were at MGM.
- Had four sisters - Helga, Norma, 'Vilma Ebsen' (qv) and Leslie. He was the middle child.
- Attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida shortly before starting his film career.
- In 1938 MGM offered him a seven-year contract, starting at $2,000 a week but requiring him to give the studio absolute control over his career. He rejected it. MGM blackballed him and his film career went into eclipse for nearly 20 years, until 'Walt Disney' (qv) hired him to play Georgie Russel, Davy Crockett's sidekick, in _Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955)_ (qv).