Buddy Ebsen was a multi-talented artist that began his film career in 1935 as Jack Benny in Broadway Melody of 1936. He became known for many other high-profile productions throughout his lifetime, however, and was never afraid to explore new mediums. As a tribute to my dear friend and the quintessential life-of-the-party, this week I’ll be outlining my favorite works of his career which spanned over 73 years!
1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
At the top of my list is none other than Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn. We saw Buddy in a serious role as the love struck Doc Golightly. His performance earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. My favorite scene would have to be the one in which he please with his wayward wife to return to their farm and children. This scene is now part of the Tribute to Buddy his youngest daughter and son are performing across the nation. It never fails to bring tears to the audience’s eyes—and my own!
2. Barnaby Jones TV series
I just loved the cool-headed Private Eye Buddy portrayed in this long running series. Yes, it’s true, I enthusiastically watched every episode—all 178 of them! In fact, the 8th season made it the longest running detective series at the time. Originally, Buddy was asked to star in a supporting role on the popular Cannon Detective series, and after appearing on several episodes, the idea of a mature detective named Barnaby Jones was conceived. That is why William Conrad—the start of Cannon—appeared in the opening scene of Barnaby Jones!
3. The Other Side of OZ—Buddy’s Autobiography
If you consider yourself a Buddy Ebsen fan, you would be remiss to go without reading this incredible collection of stories about Buddy’s personal journey. I simply love his positive attitude and perseverance. There’s much to be gained from reading this work. You’ll be led through his life as a dancer, actor, author, songwriter, artist, and musician. It’s warm and unpretentious. It’s also full of incredible images that will take you down memory lane!
4. Captain January
I loved the stories Buddy shared of working with the 6 year old Shirley with my granddaughter, Jamie, and I over breakfast. He had given us a video of the movie to watch the night before and shared his introduction to the then megastar. She was polite, but unwilling to be shown the dance steps until the routine was compete.
His fist impression was that she was spoiled, but when he later showed her the steps, she got it on the first try. He realized she was already a professional, trying to avoid wasting time. He also shared that on set each day before they began to work, Shirley told a joke, and that the biggest problem they had with the 6 year old is that she learned everyone’s lines, and often when they shot back to Shirley, she was mouthing their lines.
A delightful song he wrote (lyrics and music), which my granddaughter and her friend performed for him as a surprise for his 85th birthday.
6. His paintings of seascapes–
In particular, the one that he painted and gave to me as a thank you. It hangs in our hallway and was used for the back cover of Sizzling Cold Case, the Barnaby Jones novel I completed for him after his death on July 6th, 2003.
7. Broadway Melody’s 1936 and 1938
With his sister, Velma, Elenore Powell, Judy Garland . . . which I saw from videos Buddy gave us.
Buddy Ebsen’s career touched many lives and knowing him as a friend makes his work that much more meaningful. If you haven’t seen any of these excellent works, I highly recommend you take some time to see them!
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