Since the book I completed for Buddy Ebsen, Sizzling Cold Case, is about to be released as an audiobook, I thought it would be fun to share some memories I have of my friendship with Buddy as well as some stories behind the completion of the book. As with most things in life, luck and timing played a large role in my long friendship with Buddy Ebsen and his wife Dorothy. Buddy, who is best known for his work as Jed Clampett on the Beverly Hillbillies and as legendary Barnaby Jones, was a warm, beguiling man. When Buddy walked into a room, his immediate focus was always on the other person, never on himself. He genuinely was interested in learning from and about others. He was forever optimistic about the future – every day offered new opportunities.
I first met Buddy at a New Year’s Eve party in 1985 at the Long Beach Yacht Club. My late husband and I were seated at a table with Buddy and Dorothy, then newlyweds.
We were merely acquaintances for the first few years, but grew much closer. I invited Buddy and Dorothy to a Christmas party with my critique group along with some published authors. Dorothy mentioned that Buddy was writing his first novel, The Other Side of Oz, and she felt that it would be beneficial for him to receive some feedback. Once Buddy completed his first draft, a fellow critique member, Bob Telford, and I gave feedback to Buddy.
Buddy was receptive and wonderful to work with. He was a multi-talented man and an excellent writer. One issue though was that Buddy, like James Patterson, wrote everything by hand. Although this may not seem like a major problem, it was. Only his secretary could read his handwriting! His secretary would type up every page for us.
All of my granddaughters loved Buddy as well. They were so proud when he attended their dance recitals. In fact, everyone at the recitals, from other dancers to their parents, was infatuated with him. He would share stories of the making of Captain January with Shirley Temple. She was only six years old at the time, and he was 6’4″ meaning some accommodations had to be made (see image below). We all hung on every word of his stories.
Being a guest at his birthday parties was a special treat. So many interesting stories were shared and entertainment lasted all night. Every birthday, Buddy always made the same wish as he blew out the candles – the wish was for another birthday.
As a surprise for Buddy’s 85th birthday, my granddaughter, Jaime, and her friend, Odessa, choreographed his song, Angelica – a devilish angel. Costumed in white organdy dresses, red horns, tails and pitchforks, they sang and danced. “Who put the jam on the pussy cat’s tail, who put the grease on the banister rail …” Oh, how I wish we had digital cameras back then!
For his 90th Birthday, Warner Brothers wanted to throw him a huge celebration. He refused and had a celebration for 90 people at the Long Beach Yacht Club. Cast members from various walks of his fame where there, including Donna Douglas (Elly May), Max Baer Jr. (Jethro), Lee Meriwether (Betty), Tex Beneke, and scores of others, whom Buddy marched around the floor as he played “When the Saints Go Marching In” on his saxophone.
Almost immediately following the celebration, Buddy had open heart surgery. Since his home in Palos Verdes had many stairs and his bedroom was on the second floor, the hospital kept him an extra week to practice climbing stairs. The recording on his home phone was: “Well, the opening was such a success; they’ve held me over for another week.” His lovable, gravelly voice was recorded from the hospital.
Share this with your friends:
Sign Up for Our Newsletter
- No events