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Buddy Ebsen Dies at 95

Actor Buddy Ebsen, best known for his role as Jed Clampett on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, died at age 95 at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. NPR's Bob Edwards has a remembrance.

Ebsen began his career tap dancing with his sister Vilma in the chorus of lavish Broadway and movie musicals in the late 1920s and '30s. When his sister retired, Epson continued on with an extensive movie career, dancing with Shirley Temple in Captain January, and appearing in other films with Barbara Stanwyck, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Sonja Heni.

But Ebsen is probably most famous for a movie he didn't finish: The Wizard of Oz. He was cast as the original Tin Man in the children's classic, but was forced to step down 10 days into filming because of an allergic reaction to the aluminum paint.

Ebsen switched easily to television, making his first appearance in 1954 as Fess Parker's sidekick in Disney's "Davy Crockett." A few years later, he created what may be his most enduring character, Jed Clampett, the family patriarch of The Beverly Hillbillies. The show aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971, making it one of CBS's longest running sitcoms. Ebsen returned to CBS in 1973, playing the milk-drinking detective, Barnaby Jones. The series lasted until 1980, and Ebsen said he was surprised that with all the private-eye shows on television, another one would work.

Ebsen was also a writer of books, musicals and plays, a composer, a sailor and a father of seven. He is survived by his third wife Dotti.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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