Buddy Ebsen Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (90)  | Personal Quotes (34)

Overview (4)

Born in Belleville, Illinois, USA
Died in Torrance, California, USA  (complications from pneumonia)
Birth NameChristian Ludolf Ebsen Jr.
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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 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 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 aluminum make-up, however, and was replaced by Jack Haley. 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).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Stephan Eichenberg<eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Family (2)

Spouse Dorothy Ebsen (3 March 1985 - 6 July 2003)  (his death)
Nancy Wolcott (6 September 1945 - 1985)  (divorced)  (5 children)
Ruth Margaret McCambridge (Cambridge) (10 July 1933 - 15 January 1945)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Parents Ebsen, Frances
Ebsen Sr., Christian Ludolph

Trade Mark (4)

The catchphrase "Wellll, doggies!"
Towering height.
White hair & elderly appearance
Thick, croaky commanding voice.

Trivia (90)

In the 1930s, Disney animators filmed him dancing in front of a grid to "choreograph" Mickey Mouse's dance steps for the Silly Symphony cartoons.
Attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida shortly before starting his film career.
Became a bestselling author at age 93. [2001]
Originally cast as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Buddy had a severe allergic reaction and was hospitalized as a result of inhaling aluminum powder used as part of his make-up. One chorus of "We're Off to See the Wizard" in the movie and soundtrack album retain Ebsen's original vocals as the Tin Man, recorded before he was forced to leave the production. Because of the prolonged hospitalization, he was replaced by Jack Haley (whose reformulated make-up used pre-mixed aluminium dust), and Ebsen's scenes were re-shot using Haley. Footage of Ebsen as the Tin Man still exists, and was included as an extra with the U.S. 50th anniversary video release of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
An outspoken Republican, he helped defeat Nancy Kulp, his co-star in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), 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), the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) 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.
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 hired him to play George "Georgie" Russell, Davy Crockett's sidekick, in Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955).
Initially wanted to become a doctor. He took premed courses at Rollins College ( Winter Park, Florida) and the University of Florida, but his mother persuaded him into show business.
Director Norman Foster first recommended Ebsen to Walt Disney to play Davy Crockett, and Disney was "half sold" on the idea. Then Disney saw Fess Parker in the sci-fi film Them! (1954) 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, George "Georgie" Russell. The part helped to turn his career around and arguably played a part in Ebsen's getting the role of the equally grizzled and popular Jed Clampett.
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, titled Kelly's Quest.
Was initiated into DeMolay at the John M. Cheney Chapter in Orlando, Florida, in 1926. DeMolay is a Masonic youth organization for young men between 12 and 21.
He served in the Coast Guard during World War II as the executive officer on the Pocatello, a submarine chaser in the North Pacific.
Owned a 36-acre ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.
He and his The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) co-star, Donna Douglas, had a lot in common. Like Buddy, she too is a successful singer (of gospel), is also a character actress, and is also a Republican.
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) or as the lead role on Barnaby Jones (1973).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 161-163. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
His former Barnaby Jones (1973) co-star, Lee Meriwether, said he reminded her a lot of Ray MacDonnell, with whom she had a wonderful relationship on All My Children (1970).
Co-founder of the Beverly Hills Coin Club with a young actor named Chris Aable.
He had 15 hobbies over his long life: dancing, playing guitar, coin collecting, swimming, golfing, riding horses, sailing, painting, building sailboats, spending time with his family, politics, gardening, fishing, traveling and singing.
Remained friends with Lee Meriwether during and after Barnaby Jones (1973).
Remained friends with Donna Douglas and Max Baer Jr. during and after The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
While filming Barnaby Jones (1973), he was hospitalized with pains in his legs. [2 July 1976].
Future game show host Bob Barker, talk show host Jerry Springer and comedians Vicki Lawrence, Jim Varney, Drew Carey and Graham Elwood, all said Ebsen was their childhood television hero.
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1765 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
At 27, Ebsen moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1935, beginning his professional acting career, as a contract player with MGM, where he taught fellow MGM star Judy Garland how to do the shim-sham shimmy. He later became embroiled in a contract dispute with MGM that left him idle for long periods.
On The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), his character always wore a tattered hat, a tan coat, blue jeans and a fake mustache, in real-life, he wore none of those, aside from blue jeans.
Met Fess Parker, when they were both under contract at Disney, where the two began a lifelong friendship, from 1954 until Ebsen's own death in 2003. He was 16 years Parker's senior.
His parents, his father (also named Christian Ludolf Ebsen, Sr.), a physical fitness advocate, taught dance in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is where Buddy and his younger sister, Vilma, learned their craft and they appeared in local and school productions and his mother, Frances (née Wendt) Ebsen, was a painter.
After his final guest-starring role on King of the Hill (1997), he retired from acting at age 91.
Was Quinn Martin's first choice for the lead role of Barnaby Jones (1973), he accepted it, which was his comeback to television, after a 2 year absence.
Worked with William Conrad in episodes of both shows: Barnaby Jones (1973), which Conrad appeared on the first episode, and another afterwards and Cannon (1971).
Was approached by Paul Henning for his first choice as the lead role of Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
On Barnaby Jones (1973), he played a private eye detective, on Matt Houston (1982), he also played a private eye detective.
Before he was a successful actor, he did everything from being a lifeguard to being a waiter.
Was good friends with Eddie Albert, where the two began their lifelong friendship from 1956 until Ebsen's own death in 2003. He worked with him on Attack (1956) and The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
Ebsen began writing while still in high school; he also composed songs. He wrote several other books including "Polynesian Concept" (about sailing), "The Other Side of Oz" (an autobiography) and "Sizzling Cold Case" (a mystery based on his Barnaby Jones character). His most successful work was "Kelly's Quest", a romance, which was published in 2001 when the actor was in his 90s.".
He was set to make a cameo appearance on Son of the Beach (2000), but was forced to cancel it due to failing health.
Attended Michael Landon's funeral in 1991.
Purchased the 4,398 square ft. house in Palos Verdes Estates, California in late 1985 and lived there until his death. The house was sold in 2007.
Was a spokesperson for the United Way in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
Appeared on the front cover of TV Guide 8 times.
Was one of the two actors to appear in every episode of Barnaby Jones (1973).
Between The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and Barnaby Jones (1973), he had roles on television for 18 consecutive seasons.
Ebsen had a unique Disney connection. It was Disney that hired him in 1955 for the Davy Crockett series that ended an almost 20 year absence from leading movie roles after he rejected MGM's 1938 contract offer. Disney, however, appears to have always been a "good luck" charm for Ebsen. In his first film, Broadway Melody of 1936, in his first scene he is wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater. Ebsen appeared just a few years later in the followup film, Broadway Melody of 1938. In the second scene in which he appears, he is wearing a Donald Duck sweater/shirt.
When Ebsen was in his early 20s, he traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he appeared in, among other productions, "Whoopee", "The Male Animal", and "Apple of His Eye".
He and his third wife, Dorothy Knott, were stopped by a police officer. Then he stuck his head in the window, looked at Ebsen and said, 'Georgie Russell!' That was the only time that a cop has let either him and his wife off, by not giving them a ticket.
Was the producers first choice for the lead role of Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955), but lost the role to fellow actor Fess Parker. Ebsen played Parker's sidekick in the series.
Behind Mickey Rooney and Bob Hope, Ebsen was the third actor ever to have an extended acting career, longer than anybody else in the business.
In 1962, Ebsen was one of the actors to have joined the ranks of other sitcom male lead stars, such as John Forsythe, Andy Griffith, Danny Thomas, Alan Young, Robert Young, Fred MacMurray and Ernest Borgnine (whose sitcom McHale's Navy (1962), debuted just 2 weeks after Ebsen's) to star in his own popular sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
His good friend Ruth Warrick, and his former Barnaby Jones (1973) co-star, Lee Meriwether, both starred in the long-running daytime soap opera, All My Children (1970), from 1996 to 1998.
According to his The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) co-star, Donna Douglas, she said in an interview, that she reminded Ebsen of her late father. She also said in the same interview, most of her scenes, on that show were with Ebsen.
Had a photographic memory. According to his Barnaby Jones (1973) co-star, Lee Meriwether, she said in an interview, Ebsen had a wonderful memory and would put his lines down immediately.
Ebsen taught his The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) co-star, Max Baer Jr., how to sail, when sailing wasn't The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)'s cup of tea. Ebsen also sailed often with friend and fellow actor James Arness.
Had commuted from his Newport Beach house to Los Angeles, every weekend for 8 1/2 seasons, while starring in Barnaby Jones (1973).
He often fallen asleep in his car and fallen asleep standing up, on the set of Barnaby Jones (1973).
Met Max Baer Jr.'s father (Max Baer), in the 1930s, at one of Baer's boxing match, before and after Max Jr.'s birth. They were friends until Baer Sr.'s death in 1959, and Ebsen became a surrogate father to Baer Jr., afterwards. At nearly 25, he co-starred opposite Ebsen, on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), as Ebsen's dimwitted nephew.
Acting mentor and friends of Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr. and Lee Meriwether.
In 1919, when his mother's health was failing, his family moved to Palm Beach, Florida. In 1920, when Buddy was 12, his family moved to Orlando, Florida, where Ebsen was raised with four sisters (Helga, Leslie, Norma, and Vilma Ebsen).
He was nicknamed "Buddy" by an aunt, and eventually changed his forename to Frank "Buddy" Ebsen.
Despite high ratings, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) was canceled at the end of the ninth season, when CBS also cancelled Petticoat Junction (1963) and Green Acres (1965) (all Paul Henning shows) in a bid to develop a more sophisticated urban following, such as that which was ushered in with All in the Family (1971).
One of his sisters, Norma Ebsen, died on March 29, 1996, just 7 years before Buddy. She lived to be 91.
One of his sisters, Helga Ebsen, died on November 7, 1994, just 9 years before Buddy. She lived to be 94.
He graduated from Orlando High School, in Orlando, Florida, in 1926.
He was one of the three actors who appeared in every episode of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
Ebsen had exchanged guitar lessons, with Fess Parker, who took dancing lessons.
A Boy Scout and an average student at Orlando High School, he was a member of the swimming team, in which he participated all 4 years and became a Florida State Champion.
Of Baltic German/Latvian and Danish descent.
Nancy Wolcott McKeown died on May 14, 2008, just 1 day before her 90th birthday.
Before he was a successful actor, he used to work at a soda fountain shop.
Met Nancy Wolcott, his future second wife, while he was serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. The two were married for 40 years, before divorcing in 1985.
Ebsen was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame. [21 June 1996].
Before he was a successful actor, he was a chorus boy in Whoopee! (1930).
On both of his shows, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and Barnaby Jones (1973), his characters danced in a few episodes, in real-life, Ebsen was also a dancer.
He was survived by his seven children and his third wife, Dotti, as well as a large extended family.
As Ebsen aged, he wanted to cut back on his role in order to reduce his time on the set. He was able to do so for the last two seasons on Barnaby Jones (1973). Episodes were then divided evenly among the three actors, with Ebsen, Meriwether and Shera each being the focus of a third of the season's episodes.
An avid sailor, he won a multitude of races on this continent and abroad including the prestigious 1968 Honolulu Trans Pacific yacht race in his 35 ft catamaran, "Polynesian Concept".
His family sent Shirley Temple an invitation to his memorial, but she declined.
Buddy Ebsen passed away on July 6, 2003. Just 3 weeks after Ebsen's death, his longtime best friend, comedian Bob Hope, passed away.
Just before his death, both of his ex-The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) co-stars, Donna Douglas and Max Baer Jr., went to visit him in the hospital, during his final days.
He was a longtime friend of Dick Van Dyke, who hosted his memorial service on 30 August 2003.
One of Ebsen's last roles was a gag cameo in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) in which Ebsen's understudy, Jim Varney played Jed Clampett. Ebsen showed up as Barnaby Jones.
His second show, Barnaby Jones (1973) was canceled at the end of the eighth season, because Ebsen had decided to retire from acting.
Father of: Elizabeth, Susannah, Cathy, Alix Ebsen, Bonnie Ebsen, Kiersten Kiki Ebsen, and Dustin Ebsen).
Ebsen's son, Dustin Ebsen, is married to Stan Freberg's daughter, Donna. Ebsen's daughter, Bonnie Ebsen, had guest-starred on Barnaby Jones (1973).
Ebsen's first wife, Ruth, was originally Walter Winchell's secretary/Girl Friday.
Buddy Ebsen passed away on July 6, 2003, aged 95. In the last two years of his life, he recorded his first CD in which he sang some of his own songs.
He began his first television series, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), at age 54.
He played Barnaby Jones on both the TV series and as a cameo in the 1993 Beverly hillbillies movie.
Despite claiming breathing problems "from that damned movie" (The Wizard of Oz), he outlived all the major cast members, with only some Munchkin actors and extras outliving him.

Personal Quotes (34)

You take a blank piece of paper and, whatever you're thinking, you write it down. I'm very satisfied if, in my mind, it increased the value of the paper. That's what writing should do. It should increase the value of the paper.
[Commenting on having written a romance novel at age 93]: "There are a lot of me's."
You get more negative reactions than positive reactions as you go through life, and the big lesson is nobody counts you out but yourself...I never have, I never will.
'As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.' Often the values of the influences imposed on us by our mothers and fathers, our teachers and certain friends, are not realized until years later, when we, as a sailor does, look back at our wakes to determine the course we have steered that got us to where we are. Today when I look back, then look around me to see with whom I am standing, I fully realize the influence on my life that must be credited to DeMolay.
[When asked why he had returned to the rigors of a weekly show (Matt Houston (1982)), at the age of 76. (1984)]: "I'm used to getting up at dawn and going to the studio to be with my pals on the set. It's my lifestyle and I wouldn't trade it for any other."
I've been typecast as various things in my career. As a cute little-well, not-so-little, brother-sister dance team. I got by that and that was deliberate. I played heavies for about eight or nine years. It was my agent's idea. He said we'd have to break this mold.
[Who thought in 1973 for a while about the Barnaby Jones character he portrayed]: "Besides being older, he approaches problems more calmly. Not that he's incapable of being worked up. He has compassion for the victim, compassion for the bereaved and compassion really for the convicted. Not that he's soft. He's a embodiment of what someone once said about a tough skipper - he's hard, but he's fair."
[Who said in 1965 about his stage performances]: "I probably enjoyed show business most when I was doing plays like 'The Male Animal' and 'Good Night, Ladies,' when people would lay down their money and laugh and you'd see them walk out happy. By God, I'd feel honest. I could go home with a good taste in my mouth. You'd feel better, you'd feel more alive and like you were justifying your existence."
[Who said as to why The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) was his favorite TV series to date]: "The one flaw in this is that you can't hear the people laughing."
[on being a best-selling author]: "Writing fiction, there are no limits to what you write as long as it increases the value of the paper you are writing on."
[Of his Barnaby Jones character]: "Barnaby is more of a fox. He counter-punches. He lets somebody make a mistake and he capitalizes on it."
[When he had a lot of time writing, Mark Shera, joined the cast of Barnaby Jones (1973), as J.R.]: "I said we have two clever people on the show. Lee Meriwether and Mark Shera. I said why don't you do a number of shows in which they carry the load. They agreed to that and it gives me more time to do the things I want to do."
I have about six plays and I want to write 'My First 50 Years in Show Business.' My mother, God bless her, saved every letter from 1928 on. Every clipping pictures. She squirreled it all away.
[Who was still going on strong with his Barnaby Jones character]: "After this, I'll just get into something else. Some other job. I can't do nothing."
[Who said in 1977 about his tune, The September Song, taken from Knickerbocker Holiday]: "I don't consider 'September Song' a survivor song, but there is one line which expresses why I'll never retire. That's these few golden days I'll spend with you."
[Where he spent most of his time aboard a weather ship outside of Seattle, where he doesn't consider a total loss]: "I met my present wife Nancy during the war. She was in the Coast Guard, too, and stationed in Seattle as a communications officer. We were both lieutenants, j.g., but I got my extra half stripe before we got married, so I outranked her."
My father was born in what used to be Denmark and later became part of Germany. After what my uncle told him about his experiences in the German army, my father thought he had better get out of the country fast. That's why he came to the United States when he was 16 and went to Chicago, where his sister had married the postmaster.
[Who said in 1963 about his career before starring in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)]: "I'm a straight man in the series. Jed is essentially not a comedy character, so my job is to set up the situations and the lines. Occasionally, Jed will make a droll observation and sometimes when the show is slanted toward him, I'll play in a comedy scene. But for the most part I feed lines to the others."
[Who believed in 1962 about The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) making it a surefire hit]: "It has several things going for it - including the scripts. First, there's the contrast between a historically primitive culture and an extremely modern one. And the simple one doesn't come off second best because the people are kind and direct. Then, there's the business about the country jakes with 25 million dollars who appear to be ripe for the slickers - but never get taken because of their basic honesty and goodness. People always like that - the story of the wise fools, a classic."
[When he was playing the saxophone, the same instrument that inspired future president Bill Clinton, to play it long after him]: "Sixty-seven years ago, I owned a saxophone and played in the high school band. I said, 'Shucks, if he can do it, I can.'"
They got a lot of very important people to make a comment about 'Hillbillies,' its position in the general tapestry of Americana.
[About Cass Daley]: "Anyway, Cass Daley is with me in the cast of 10 and it's a happy group we have. I don't want to sound like a Don Quixote-type character, but I'm sort of on a one-man rampage to find out if there isn't a place on stage for good, clean fun, the kind of wholesome entertainment people used to enjoy some years back. And so far, the attendance on this tour has backed me up."
[Who said in 1971 as to why he'd done things on tour rather than staying at home sailing one of his boats]: "Well, I've always loved the stage, and naturally it's been a long time since I played to a live audience. So I got this hankering, or itch, maybe it's almost like a disease"
[Who said in 1964 when his first given name was: Christian Rudolph Ebsen, Jr.]: "It was a German community, and the schools taught German as well as English. Although it was my first language, I never became fluent in it. When I was filming 'Night People' in Berlin, a few years ago, I was often complimented on my accent, but never on my vocabulary or grammar."
[For gaining popularity for playing fifty-something Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies]: "I don't see how people can see themselves or their friends in our show."
[In 1993]: "It's therapeutic. When I get depressed, I just rent a cassette [of it] and I feel good. I don't have to see a doctor."
[on the effects of aluminum poisoning that forced his relinquishing the 'Tin Man' role] Production had been underway for ten days when, one night after dinner,I took a deep breath - and nothing happened! I felt like no air had reached my lungs... as though someone had coated them with glue. And my breathing was excruciatingly labored. I wondered if I was dying.
[Who said in 1993 about an admirer Jim Varney playing his predecessor's role that made him famous, 3 decades ago]: I want to welcome Jim Varney into a very exclusive club. That's the Uncle Jed Club. There are hundreds of actors that have played Hamlet, but only two have played Jed Clampett.
[As to why he didn't want to star in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), in the first place]: I was reluctant to do it, because I didn't think I had any business in this picture because it was gonna be all new people. And then Penelope got on the phone and finally persuaded me to do it. She felt that it was a good comedy notion, and I think it turned out she was right.
They had poise. They never felt out of place.
[For gaining popularity as the sixty-something Barbaby Jones]: With such a glut of private-eye shows, I didn't see how another one could succeed, I really thought the network was making a mistake.
I can walk on any stage in the English-speaking world and say, 'Well, doggies!' and I'm home free.
[In 1994]: The big lesson is you get more negative reactions than positive reactions as you go through life, and the big lesson is nobody counts you out but yourself. . . . I never have, I never will.
[About The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)]: As I recall, the only good notice was in the Saturday Review. The critic said the show possessed 'social comment combined with a high Nielsen, an almost impossible achievement in these days.' I kinda liked that!

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