Tuesday Tunes: Buddy Ebson
Before he was Jed Clampett…
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.
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).
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 (Buddy & his sister Vilma)
Buddy Ebsen dancing 1978
Donald O’Connor and Buddy Ebsen (a RARE clip)
Fun Facts about Mr. Buddy Ebson
Got the nickname ‘Buddy’ from his aunt, so Christian changed his name to Buddy Ebsen.
Was a Boy Scout.
In the 1930s, Disney animators filmed him dancing in front of a grid to “choreograph”Wayne Allwine’s dance steps for the Silly Symphony cartoons.
Originally cast as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Buddy 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).
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.
Began his television series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) at age 54.
Taught Judy Garland the shim-sham shimmy while they were at MGM.
Was a longtime friend of Dick Van Dyke, who hosted his memorial service on 30 August 2003.
He served in the Coast Guard during World War II as the executive officer on the Pocatello, a submarine chaser in the North Pacific.
Became a bestselling author at age 93.
Buddy Ebsen died on July 6, 2003. Just 3 weeks after his death, his longtime best friend, comedian Bob Hope, passed away.
Buddy Ebsen died just three months before his death, he celebrated his 95th birthday, on April 2.