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).
- In the last two years of his life, he recorded his first CD in which he sang some of his own songs.
- In the 1930s, Disney animators filmed him dancing in front of a grid to "choreograph" 'Mickey Mouse' (qv)'s dance steps for the Silly Symphony cartoons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 161-163. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
- (2001) Became a best-selling author at the age of 93.
- Taught 'Judy Garland (I)' (qv) the shim-sham shimmy while they were at MGM.