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 - 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).
- 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).
- In the last two years of his life, he recorded his first CD in which he sang some of his own songs.
- Taught 'Judy Garland (I)' (qv) the shim-sham shimmy while they were at MGM.
- His former _"Barnaby Jones" (1973)_ (qv) co-star, 'Lee Meriwether' (qv), said he reminded her a lot of 'Ray MacDonnell' (qv), with whom she had a wonderful relationship on _"All My Children" (1970)_ (qv).
- His film career was ruined by 'Louis B. Mayer' (qv) when Ebsen refused to sign an MGM contract that would "own" him to the studio.
- 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."