July 6, 2003 Buddy Ebsen dies age 95……
This post is about the book written by Buddy Ebsen (The Other Side of Oz) .. and also a little extra about the actor.
I know most who look at Buddy Ebsen see Jed Clampett.. not me. I am old enough to remember seeing his old black and white movies, when he danced with the likes of Shirley Temple and Judy Garland!
And then color came to television.. and wow! I’m sorry but, old I am.. dead I am not! This was a good looking man, with gorgeous (I said GORGEOUS) blue eyes! Sorry.. no Jed Clampett here!
But besides the old movies I’m also old enough that I first fell in love with the handsome Buddy when he played Davey Crockett’s side kick George Russel. I never missed that show! Two handsome devils for a young girl to swoon over! And..nope.. I wasn’t watching it for the history lessons!
A few weeks ago when I went to Comic Con I met and helped Lee Meriwether. Among her photo’s she had two pictures of Buddy as Barnaby Jones and herself. After talking about the show Lee mentioned the book Buddy wrote. I have to admit I totally forgot about that book! But I did remember when it was mentioned.. so I came home and searched it on Amazon, found it was no longer being published then went in search for a used copy. I have 3 places I check on for used copies of books… Amazon (naturally), Barnes and Noble (or course) and a place called Alibris. I’ve had good luck with Alibris. (all of them actually) This is the 3rd time I’ve trusted their sellers and purchased a used book and each time they are mailed in good time and come in fantastic condition. You’ll get no arguement from me!
The Other Side of Oz by Buddy Ebsen
Hardcover: 285 pages
Publisher: Donovan (January 1994)
From Publishers Weekly
Ebsen‘s career was launched when he and his sister Vilma danced in the Eddie Cantor Broadway hit Whoopee! and in Ziegfield Follies of 1934 . Later, in Hollywood, his co-stars numbered the likes of Judy Garland, Shirley Temple and Audrey Hepburn. Ebsen‘s media have included stage, radio, movies and TV, but he is best known for his roles in the long-running TV series Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones . In this memoir, the performer, who was born in Illinois in 1908, the son of German immigrants, recalls his early film experiences, especially as the originally cast Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz –before he was fired. Unfortunately, despite the obvious richness of Ebsen‘s career, fragmentary reminiscences and amateur writing do not make for an involving autobiography. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
I can’t just put thisphoto here and not tell you .. I was totally shocked when this came in the mail.. the quality of this book is so fantastic it would be more than worth the original selling price of 24.99. It was published in 1993. Under the paper jacket lies a book that looks like (fake) leather. The binding is done better than any book I’ve every purchased. The paper is thick. (yes, you read correctly… THICK) The print is fairly large, though it says nothing anywhere about it being “large print”.. it’s double spaced, and it’s filled (FILLED) with gorgeous photo’s along with the story! I found myself just flipping pages and brushing my hand over the quality of the paper.. incredible! If you like celebrity Biographies or Autobiographies and happen to like Buddy Ebsen… It’s worth finding a “used” copy as I did just to feel this book in your hands!
A Short Biography…….. (some photo’s are from the book… some from the web)
Born: Apr 02, 1908 in Belleville, Illinois
Died: Jul 06, 2003
Active: ‘30s, ‘50s-‘90s
MajorGenres: Drama, Western
CareerHighlights: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates
First Major Screen Credit: Captain January (1936)
A dancer from childhood, Buddy Ebsen headlined in vaudeville in an act with his sister Velma. In 1935, Ebsen was signed by MGM as a specialty performer in The Broadway Melody of 1936, wherein he was shown to good advantage in several solos. He worked in a number of subsequent musicals, including Shirley Temple’s Captain January (1936)
…. teaming with Shirley for the delightful number “At the Codfish Ball.”
MGM assigned Ebsen to the role of the Scarecrow in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz,
but Ray Bolger, who’d been cast as the Tin Man, talked Ebsen into switching roles. The move proved to be Ebsen‘s undoing; he found that he was allergic to the silver makeup required for the Tin Man, fell ill, and was forced to bow out of the film, to be replaced by Jack Haley (however, Ebsen‘s voice can still be heard in the reprises of “We’re Off to See the Wizard”).Ebsen then returned to thestage, taking time out to provide the dancing model for a electronically operated wooden marionette which later was used at Disneyland.
In 1950 Ebsen returned to films as comical sidekick to Rex Allen, gradually working his way into good character parts in “A” pictures like Night People (1955). Walt Disney, who’d remembered Ebsen from the dancing marionette, offered the actor the lead in his 1954 three-part TV production of Davy Crockett,
but at the last moment engaged Fess Parker as Davy and recast Buddy as Crockett’s pal George Russel. Ebsen continued to pop up in films like 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (as Audrey Hepburn‘s abandoned hometown husband), and in TV westerns, where he often cast his image to the winds by playing cold-blooded murderers. Comfortably wealthy in 1962 thanks to his film work and wise business investments, Ebsen added to his riches by signing on to play Jed Clampett in the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies,
which ran for nine years to excellent ratings. A millionaire several times over, Ebsen planned to ease off after Hillbillies, but in 1972 he was back in TV in the title role of Barnaby Jones. Few observers gave this easygoing detective series much of a chance, but they weren’t counting on Ebsen‘s built-in popularity; Barnaby Jones lasted until 1980.
Buddy Ebsen …… Barnaby Jones
Lee Meriwether … Betty Jones
John Carter …… Lieutenant John Biddle
Mark Shera …….Jedediah Romano “J.R.” Jones
Vince Howard ….. Lieutenant Joe Taylor
Excerpt from the book about Lee……
I was assigned a dressing room suite and parking space on the Goldwyn lot. Two days later, an attractive young lady parked her station wagon nearby, got out, and approached me, smiling. “We’ve nnever met,” she said. “I’m Lee Meriwether. I’m your new daughter-in-law”. This former Miss America who had made a go of an acting career was referring, of course, to the role she had just won in the series. Her appearance was soft, feminine, belied by a strong, firm handshake. The skin texture spoke of a girl who works. This lady, I concluded, does her own gardening.
The actor now confined himself to special events appearances and occasional guest-star roles, though he did play the recurring part of Lee Horsley’s uncle in the final season of the TV mystery show Matt Houston (1983-85). One of Buddy Ebsen’s final roles was in the 1993 theatrical film version of The Beverly Hillbillies — not as Jed Clampett but in a cameo as Barnaby Jones!~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Here is a piece of “trivia” that I didn’t know about Mr Ebsen found in his book…
I was totally unprepared for the phone call I got one day from Jimmy McHugh.
“Ron Howard called today,” he told me. “He wants to talk to you.”
“About what?” I asked.
“A part in his new movie Cocoon.”
The news was thrilling.
Fate sure knows how to torture a fellows. Here I was locked into a year with the television series, “Matt Houston,” and the hottest director in town calls to talk about a part in his next project. I don’t wish to disparage television or Matt Houston or its star Lee Horsley- a true gentleman and friend. But a part in the new Ron Howard feature? For the big screen? Wow!
But a sad fact remained: I was unavailable, so the part went to Don Ameche. Don made the most of it and won an Academy Award. And even though he got what might have been mine, Don Ameche will always receive my highest marks as a talented gentleman of rare humor and humility.
Before exiting stage left, let me give you the final excerpt of the final page of Buddy Ebsen’s book………..
I wanted to tell this story for the millions of young men and women- and grownups too- who start out bravely every morning prepared to sell something, whatever it may be. I wanted them to know the story of someone, like themselves, who has been confronted by negative people who are secure behind polished desks, and who listen doubtfully as your pitch flops.
So what to you do then? Ring up “no sale” and walk out of the office defeated? Never! Refuse to accept it! Just call it a temporary postponement of success. The difference between success and failure is often no wider than the thickness of a cigarette paper.
Just as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman stood up to the Wizard and won- so can you!
Life’s a brand-new ball game every day!
Remember that of all the elements that comprise a human being, the most important, the most essential, the one that will sustain, transcend, overcome and vanquish all obstacles is… Spirit!
I am so thrilled I have this book!! And to think I owe it all to Lee Meriwether!! (Thank you Lee!) I will tell you.. there are no great surprises in this book. No revealing, sorted affairs. And no huge Ego eccentric to be found. This book was a straight-forward telling of how Buddy broke into show business and managed to stay there and become the star we know.
Everything about this book is pleasing. From the heavy weight, and the extraordinary quality of the book, to the well written story and multitude of photographs on the pages! I feel as if I have found a hidden treasure which will remain with me for the rest of my life! The only thing better would have been to have had the opportunity to meet this very fine actor in person.
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