‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: How Buddy Ebsen Inspired Mickey Mouse’s Dance Moves

by Madison Miller

Buddy Ebsen’s career was more than just his role as Jed Clampett on “Beverly Hillbillies.”

In the popular sitcom, Ebsen plays the naive and head of the Clampett family that usually sets things straight. He is one of the three characters that actually appeared in every single “Beverly Hillbillies” episode.

Beyond his career as an actor, Ebsen was a phenomenal comedian and dancer. He began his dancing career in the “Broadway Melody of 1936.” He was also in “Captain January,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “They Met in Argentina,” “Sing Your Worries Away,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” His role in “Wizard of Oz” actually led to some aluminum dust in his lungs.

From Disney to ‘Beverly Hillbillies’

His successful television career actually began with a Walt Disney Production. That is, he was George Russell in the “Davy Crockett” miniseries in 1953 before he was on “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Later in life, he also became known for saving the day as “Barnaby Jones.”

While his acting surely had an influence, so did his times dancing and singing around the stage.

According to MeTV, Ebsen once demonstrated his dance moves to Walt Disney. It was around the time he was in “Broadway Melody of 1936.” In one portion of the film, he is even dancing and shaking with a classic Mickey Mouse sweatshirt on.

This is because his moves would go on to inspire Mickey Mouse in “Silly Symphony” cartoons. Then he once again showed up in front of his creative buddy, Walt Disney, years later in 1951.

This time he was filmed in front of a gridded white wall.

“He took me to a room where there were seven little guys with aprons and thick glasses working on a contrivance that pulled wires and a little mechanical man that moved his arms, legs, head, and mouth,” Ebsen said, according to his BBC obituary.

His moves were turned into the robot companions that sit near visitors on rides at Disney World. The project became “Audio-Animatronics.” Specifically, Buddy Ebsen’s lanky dance moves will be recognizable at “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Haunted Mansion,” and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

The famous attractions have a direct tie to “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Buddy Ebsen Later in Life

He has the title of Disney Legend which was given to him in 1993. The award has been in place since 1987. The first person to receive it was Fred MacMurray.

Near the end of his life he took on even more hobbies.

Specifically, he became interested in writing. He released a book in 2000 called “Kelly’s Quest.” It’s a romance novel about a woman who is enacting her own personal rebellion. The description of the book on Amazon says, “It is about the qualities of human nature, such as ambition, greed, corruption, personal values, sexuality, loss of scruples, and the dilemma of combining the need for love and personal success.”

He also released “Sizzling Cold Case,” a Barnaby Jones-based mystery novel. He also took on painting. His art was typically landscapes. However, he also painted his “Beverly Hillbillies” character, Jed Clampett, in different scenes.