95 (passed away Jul. 6th, 2003)
Apr. 2nd, 1908
Belleville, Illinois, USA
Buddy Ebsen's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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).
- His first wife, Ruth, was originally 'Walter Winchell' (qv)'s secretary/Girl Friday.
- An outspoken Republican, he helped defeat 'Nancy Kulp' (qv), his co-star in _"The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962)_ (qv), in her 1984 Democratic congressional bid in Pennsylvania. Ebsen made radio ads for her opponent accusing Kulp of being "too liberal" and not good for the district. The two did not speak for years after the incident, but eventually settled their differences.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Best remembered by the public for his starring role as Jed Clampett on _"The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962)_ (qv) or as the lead role on _"Barnaby Jones" (1973)_ (qv).
- Son 'Dustin Ebsen' (qv) is married to 'Stan Freberg' (qv) 's daughter Donna.