Buddy Ebsen Obituary

BE Tribute Page


In June Buddy Ebsen had been hospitalized.
He seemed to recover, but sadly he died on July 6, 2003:

We will all fondly remember him and miss him.

Here is an obituary by his family:

Buddy Ebsen 
 American Icon, Legend
Now Among The Immortals
An incredible life remembered

Buddy Ebsen's best-known characterization is that of "Jed Clampett" patriarch of that celebrated piece of Americana "The Beverly Hillbillies".  His second best known is the television sleuth "Barnaby Jones".  Prior to that was his portrayal of "Georgie Russell" pal of "Davy Crockett" plus in the "Matt Houston" series and " Northwest Passage". 
He celebrated his 95th birthday on April 2nd of this year and passed away peacefully at Torrance Memorial Hospital in the morning on July 6th, 2003 surrounded by his wife Dorothy, his children and grandchildren.

Surprisingly, Buddy had never intended to be an actor.  His goal in life was to be a doctor.  However, after completing two years of pre-med studies at the University of Florida and Rollins College, the Florida land boom collapsed, affecting the fortunes of the Ebsen family.  Since Buddy's father was a dancing teacher, he had taught his four children his trade, Buddy shuffled off to New York to try show business, arriving there on August 4, 1928.  It was the beginning of a 75-year career in show biz.

His Broadway credits include: "Whoopee" 1928, "Flying Colors" 1933, " Ziegfeld Follies" 1934 "Yokel Boy" 1939, "Showboat, 1945 and " ale Animal" 1953.  From 1943 to 1945 Buddy enlisted and served in The United States Coast Guard as 1st Lieutenant and Executive Officer.

His film credits include: "Broadway Melody of 1935" with his dancing partner, sister Vilma and Eleanor Powell, "Broadway Melody of 1938" with Judy Garland, "Born To Dance", the Shirley Temple picture "Captain January", "Banjo On My Knee", "Girl of the Golden West" 1938, "Parachute Battalion", "Night People" with Gregory Peck 1954, "Between Heaven and Hell" 1956 with Robert Wagner, "Attack", "Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961, "Mail Order Bride, 1964 "The One and Only Family Band" 1968, "The President's Plane is Missing", "The Daughters of Joshua Cabe", 1972 "Fire on the Mountain", 1981 "Stone Fox" 1986, to name a few.

His creation of "Cabaret Dada", a musical was inspired by the Dada artistic revolt as a protest against World War I.  The "Voice of America" selected a song from that show for worldwide broadcasting in seven languages.  Buddy wrote more than eight plays and produced many of them.

Buddy was an avid sailor and thrived in the outdoors, especially the ocean.  He won a multitude of races on this continent and abroad including the prestigious 1968 Honolulu Trans Pacific yacht race in his 35 ft catamaran, "Polynesian Concept".

Buddy was also an accomplished artist.  He saw and appreciated the beauty in all things.   Although he had painting lessons as a child, that particular talent did not flourish until his later years.  Casual pen and ink sketches of"Old Duke" and "Uncle Jed" led to brisk sales of his colorful lithographs and three limited edition serigraphs of tranquil seascapes and majestic landscapes.

Buddy created a CD called "Buddy's Originals" where he wrote and sang most of the songs.  He is a published author of several books including his autobiography entitled "The Other Side of Oz".

He is survived by his loving wife Dorothy, his sister Vilma, his six children Alexandra, Susannah, Cathy, Bonnie, Kiki, Dustin and his six grandchildren.

Memorial service time and location to be announced.
Donations in loving memory of Buddy Ebsen may be sent to:
Motion Picture & Television Fund
22212 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland Hills, Ca. 91364

We choose to not grieve Buddy's passing, but to celebrate the life of this extraordinary man.  To quote the ending paragraph of his autobiography "The Other Side of Oz";

"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!"

More Obituaries on the Web
Savannah Now 1
The Globe and Mail
CBC, Canada
BBC News, UK
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Buddy Ebsen died on July 6, 2003:
Private services were held on July 11, 2003, in a church overlooking the ocean. Christopher Cross sang "Sailing".
Buddy's ashes were scattered at sea at a later time.
A public service "The Buddy Ebsen Life Celebration" was on August 30, 2003. More about this event


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Last update Aug 20, 2006