Weeeellll Doggies! Buddy Ebsen's best-known role was as Jed Clampett, patriarch of The Beverly Hillbillies. Surprisingly, though, it was never Ebsen's intention to become an actor. He wanted to become a doctor. Ebsen had completed two years of pre-med studies at the University of Florida and Rollins College, when the Florida land boom collapsed, affecting the fortunes of the Ebsen family and the future of young Ebsen.
Since Ebsen's father was a dance teacher, he had taught all his children his trade. So, with that knowledge available to him, Ebsen went to New York to try show business. On Broadway, Ebsen's credits include "Whoopee," 1928, "Flying Colors," 1933, "Ziegfield Follies," 1934, "Yokel Boy," 1939, "Showboat," 1945, and "Male Animal," 1953.
Ebsen's next venture was the movies. His principle film credits include "Broadway Melody of 1935," with his dancing partner and sister Vilma, "Broadway Melody of 1938," with Judy Garland," "Born to Dance," the Shirley Temple picture, "Captain January," "Banjo on my Knee," "Lucky Star," "Mail Order Bride," and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
In 1962, Ebsen was chosen to star as Jed Clampett in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies. In his mid-fifties, Ebsen became a television star. The story of a hillbilly family that strikes oil and moves to Beverly Hills was a hit. After the series ended, Ebsen had several movie roles and television guest roles before landing the title role in the series Barnaby Jones. Barnaby Jones was a mature, folksy, and scientific private eye. Ebsen's second series was also a hit. After he retired from acting, Ebsen became a folk artist. He painted landscapes, seascapes, and self-portraits up until his death in 2003.
Ebsen was initiated into John M. Cheney Chapter DeMolay in Orlando, Florida, in 1926. Ebsen was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 21, 1996.
"ĎAs the twig is bent, so grows the tree.' Often the values of the influences imposed on us by our mothers and fathers, our teachers and certain friends, are not realized until years later, when we, as a sailor does, look back at our wakes to determine the course we have steered that got us to where we are. Today when I look back, then look around me to see with whom I am standing, I fully realize the influence on my life that must be credited to DeMolay."