95 (passed away Jul. 6th, 2003)
Apr. 2nd, 1908
Belleville, Illinois, USA
Buddy Ebsen's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1993 - The Beverly Hillbillies
1961 - Breakfast at Tiffany's
1956 - Attack
1939 - The Wizard of Oz
1938 - The Girl of the Golden West
1938 - My Lucky Star
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).
- Son 'Dustin Ebsen' (qv) is married to 'Stan Freberg' (qv) 's daughter Donna.
- Set up the Ebsen School of Dance in Pacific Palisades, California. When Buddy was young, his father, a physical fitness advocate, taught dance in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is where Buddy and younger sister 'Vilma Ebsen' (qv) learned their craft and they appeared in local and school productions.
- 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.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 161-163. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
- 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.
- Director 'Norman Foster (I)' (qv) first recommended Ebsen to 'Walt Disney' (qv) to play Davy Crockett, and Disney was "half sold" on the idea. Then Disney saw 'Fess Parker (I)' (qv) in the sci-fi film _Them! (1954)_ (qv) and cast the strapping actor as the famed frontiersman. Ebsen was crestfallen because he knew how big the picture would be. The next day the studio signed Ebsen on as Crockett's weatherbeaten sidekick, Georgie Russel. The part helped to turn his career around and arguably played a part in Ebsen's getting the role of the equally equally grizzled and popular Jed Clampett.
- 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).
- Wrote a half dozen plays, five of which were produced, including a farce called Honest John in 1948 and Champagne General in 1973, a Civil War story. Also a part-time songwriter, he became a newly-published author of a romantic novel at the age of 93, entitled Kelly's Quest.