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Buddy Ebsen

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EbsenasJedClampett.jpg
Buddy Ebsen as "Jed Clampett"

Buddy Ebsen (April 2, 1908July 7, 2003) was an American actor, who is best-remembered for his role as Jed Clampett in the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies.

Born Christian Rudolph Ebsen in Belleville, Illinois, he began his career as a dancer, making his film debut in 1935's Broadway Melody of 1936 and appearing in various screen musicals including Born to Dance, Captain January (both 1936) and The Girl of the Golden West (1938).

Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. He recorded all his songs, went through all the rehearsals, and started filming with the rest of the cast. He was rushed to the hospital nine days after filming began, when his lungs seized after a week of inhaling aluminum dust from the dangerously experimental "tin" makeup.

While Ebsen was in the hospital for two weeks, recovering from a near-fatal allergic reaction to the dust, he was silently replaced by Jack Haley. Haley didn't run the same risk, as the makeup was changed in the meantime from a dust to a paste. After the debacle, Ebsen appeared only in minor Westerns for many years.

From 1941 to 1946, Ebsen served as a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard.

His work in television started as the sidekick to Fess Parker in the Davy Crockett series, but he became famous in 1962 with the role of Jed Clampett in the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. The show depicted a hillbilly family from the fictional Bugtussle, getting rich on oil and moving to a rich neighborhood in Beverly Hills, California. Although scorned by critics, the show was a massive hit, attracting as many as sixty million viewers on CBS between 1962 and 1971. It was still earning good ratings when it was canceled by CBS because advertisers shunned a series that attracted a rural audience.

Ebsen also had a notable role as a country farmer in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's, which is credited for bringing him to the attention of the producers of Beverly Hillbillies, who cast him in a similar role.

He later starred in a TV detective series, Barnaby Jones, beginning in 1973 and running for most of the decade. His last work was mainly in television, reprising his Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones roles. As he entered his 90s, however, Ebsen remained active and it was reported that he was trying his hand at writing a novel.

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