Living

The first thing ya' know, ol' Buddy's a millionaire

Actor Buddy Ebsen returned to his boyhood home at 805 Lebanon Ave. in Belleville in the early 1990s. His father taught swimming in the family's pond, which is now the site of the Belleville Swimming Pool. He was born Christian Ebsen Jr. on April 2, 1908, in Belleville and moved to Florida for his mother's health when he was 12.
Actor Buddy Ebsen returned to his boyhood home at 805 Lebanon Ave. in Belleville in the early 1990s. His father taught swimming in the family's pond, which is now the site of the Belleville Swimming Pool. He was born Christian Ebsen Jr. on April 2, 1908, in Belleville and moved to Florida for his mother's health when he was 12.

Well doggies, Jed Clampett is from Belleville, too.

Bellevilleans couldn't forget their favorite son, Buddy Ebsen, when he came back to town 16 years ago.

He toured his old home, then surprised a group of preschool teachers in October 1992 when he took a walk downtown.

"Hi! I'm Buddy Ebsen. I grew up here in Belleville," Ebsen said to a small child in a News-Democrat article from 1992, One if the children's teachers recognized him instantly as the sometimes cantankerous Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies.

Ebsen would have turned 100 this year.

Actor Buddy Ebsen was born Christian Rudolph Ebsen Jr. in April 1908 at 805 Lebanon Ave..

His father taught dance lessons, and young Buddy took lessons in town and after the family moved to Florida. The Ebsens owned the land behind their house that eventually became Belleville's public pool. Buddy's father managed the pool and taught Buddy to swim. A newspaper clipping from a Hollywood newspaper in the 1930s showed Ebsen didn't always want to dance. With some coaxing from a friend, Ebsen tried to defy his father, saying "I ain't going to take a dancing lesson today. I ain't ever goin' to take another dancing lesson."

After a spanking, Buddy headed back to dance class. Dancing served Ebsen well after he moved to New York. He later headed to Los Angeles to try acting, and danced with child-star Shirley Temple in the movie "Captain January."

Disney used some of his dancing as inspiration for Silly Symphonies cartoons.

Ebsen almost got his big break in the "Wizard of Oz."

He was cast as the Tin Man, but he had to leave the role when he discovered he was allergic to the silver paint on his face. Jack Haley got the role instead.

Ebsen went on to play Georgie Russell in Disney's TV series "Davy Crockett."

His big break came in 1962 when the "Beverly Hillbillies" first aired.

In a News-Democrat article from the 1990s, Ebsen talked about how the show continued to cheer him up on bad days.

"I just pick up a cassette of the 'Hillbillies' and I run it, and I see it, I feel good," he said.

Ebsen also starred as the detective Barnaby Jones from 1973-1980. He died in 2003 at age 95.

Contact reporter Jaime Ingle at jingle@bnd.com or 239-2640.

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