Actor turns painter, celebrating long TV career
Thursday, November 16, 2000
From the stages of Broadway to the silver screen, and now to the artist’s canvas, actor Buddy Ebsen continues to capture the attention of millions young and old.
At 92 1/2 years old, Buddy acts little now, choosing the paintbrush to portray his best-known screen characterization – Jed Clampett, patriarch of that celebrated piece of television Americana, "The Beverly Hillbillies."
"I do a little of everything painting, writing and playing the saxophone," Buddy said. "I had a time with my hand when I did some cartoon sketches of Old Duke and Uncle Jed. My wife, Dorothy, somehow became impressed with those sketches and told me that I should ‘try oil.’ She thought I could do folk art."
Before he began his series "Uncle Jed Country," Buddy painted sunsets, various landscape scenes and even self-portraits.
In fact, his love for painting began much earlier.
"My mother was a painter and she enrolled us children in art school after we left Belleville, Ill.," he said, recalling his childhood. "We moved from Illinois to Florida and I started painting as a boy."
His 65-year career in show business diverted his attention to other areas of life. Yet, the desire to paint sprang up again in recent years.
"My wife really inspired me to paint," he said. "I am creative always have been and creative people must create something every day or they don’t feel their existence is justified. When my wife started me out, it opened the door to a whole new life."
Buddy also enjoys writing.
"I like to watch people and write about them," he said. "Even in school, I liked to write compositions. Writing is telling a story and people are always looking to hear those stories."
Actually, that very love for writing – combined with dancing – took Ebsen to the big stage.
"My dad was a dance teacher," Buddy said. "When we moved to Florida, he taught us children how to dance. The doctor tells me I can still dance, but to dance a little closer to the floor.
"I was 20 when the Florida land boom collapsed. Dad told me to go to New York to get a job. So, when I went to Broadway, my mother said to me that I was going to meet some interesting people and that I had better jot those things down."
Taking notes is just what he did, he added, writing his new autobiography, "The Other Side of Oz."