Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


Buddy Ebsen

Buddy Ebsen

After he died, his family sent Shirley Temple an invitation to his memorial, but she declined.

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.

Almost all of his sisters lived long lives, just like Buddy himself. Both Helga and Norma died in the late 1990s. His sister, Vilma, died in 2007, just four years after her brother's own death.

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.

Appeared in three musical film extravaganzas starring tap great Eleanor Powell.

At 12, his family moved to Orlando, Florida, where Ebsen was raised.

Attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida shortly before starting his film career.

Became a best-selling author at the age of 93. [2001]

Before he was a successful actor, he was a successful singer and dancer.

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.

Co-founder of the Beverly Hills Coin Club with an young, unknown actor, Chris Aable.

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, 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.

Fathered two daughters, Elizabeth Ebsen and Alix Ebsen, with his first wife, Ruth. Had five additional children (Susannah, Cathy, Bonnie Ebsen, Kiersten Kiki Ebsen, and Dustin Ebsen) with his second wife, Nancy.

Future politician and talk show host Jerry Springer, said Ebsen was his childhood television hero.

Graduated from Orlando High School in Orlando, Florida, in 1926.

Had four sisters - Helga, Norma, Vilma Ebsen and Leslie. He was the middle child.

Had surgery on June 10, 1998 to repair an aortic valve in his heart.

He and sister Vilma Ebsen 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."

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.