Buddy Ebsen: The original Swiss Army Man

He was an absolute renaissance man.

In a 1974 interview with Staunton, Virginia's Daily News Leader, Buddy Ebsen spoke at length on the way Barnaby Jones came to be. But, more interestingly, the profile piece detailed, at length, some of his accomplishments outside of Hollywood.

It turns out that Buddy Ebsen could do just about anything, really.

By '74, Ebsen had been many things. He was, of course, the star of Beverly Hillbillies. While the show was populated by an entire Clampett clan, Ebsen's Jed carried the show. After all, it was Jed that went a-shootin' at some food, only to find that up through the ground there came a bubblin' crude. Oil, that is. Black gold, etc., etc.

But, many people may not know that Ebsen was also a serious history buff. His research about the Civil War led to a play that he wrote called Champagne General about George McClellan. The script, which featured details about the controversial Northern general, was Ebsen's second piece produced on Broadway, following 1948's Honest John.

He was a dancer, as well. His physical talents brought him to Broadway again in one of the Ziegfeld Follies. The elaborate revues elevated the vaudeville and variety-show traditions to Broadway standards and included lavish sets and orchestrations. There, he starred with his sister Vilma, who also joined him in a series of MGM musicals.

He was a talented songwriter. Throughout his career, Buddy Ebsen penned many a tune, including titles like "Be Sure You're Right," "Angelica," "Behave Yourself," and "Handsome Stranger."

As if all of those talents weren't enough to take up a lifetime, Ebsen was additionally a sailing enthusiast. His interest in the sport led to owning a boat-building company.

One thing Ebsen was not, though, was a narcissist.

Even when discussing something as potentially low-stakes as his sailing hobby, Ebsen was not a braggart. Rather than list some statistics or the exact win-loss record, Ebsen told the reporter, "We've won a lot more races than we've lost." That's some serious modesty for a man who starred in not one, but TWO classic American television series!


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11 Comments

Jeffrey 6 months ago
Well, I didn't know that about Buddy Ebsen, except that he was a dancer. As well as actor. Thank you MeTV! I know I'm late reading and replying to this.
RachelR 8 months ago
Buddy Ebsen was also a talented artist.
Andybandit 9 months ago
I never saw Barnaby Jones. I think they should put it on earlier in the evening.
greasedaily 9 months ago
just curious........how is this a Cannon story ?
LoveMETV22 greasedaily 9 months ago
Under the Related Link- Both Ebsen and Conrad where characters in a similar genre of series:
Barnaby Jones/Cannon.
greasedaily LoveMETV22 9 months ago
seems a bit of a stretch to me, but ok. thanks
Runeshaper 9 months ago
Buddy Ebsen was a super talented man!
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 9 months ago
Buddy Ebsen was first choice as the Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz, but he had to decline because he was allergic to the paint used as part of the costume.
Actually he did not decline but ended up in hospital for months because of the silver paint.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
There are several back stories that go with the movie. Beyond the aluminum dust make-up that caused Ebsen's problems. Jack Haley developed an eye infection with the reformulated paste makeup however he only missed 4 days of filming while that was treated.

Margaret Hamilton's (Witch),copper based make-up on her face and hands caught fire in the scene where she was exiting Munchkin Land.
Also two of the Witch's flying monkeys support wires snapped in one of the flying scenes causing them to fall to the ground.

Dorothy is a whole other topic, much has been written about her time while filming
The Wizard of Oz.

Still though the movie was ahead of its time in many aspects ( special effects,etc....) and remains a classic.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Love the movie but some of the backstories are sad.
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