‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Buddy Ebsen Got His Start in Dancing, Shook a Leg with Shirley Temple

by Keeli Parkey

Most fans of classic television will recognize Buddy Ebsen as the head of the Clampett family on the popular sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

However, before Ebsen rose to television fame as Jed Clampett, he had a Hollywood career as a song and dance man. And, he even had the opportunity to perform with one of the most popular child stars of all time.

Buddy Ebsen was born on April 2, 1908, in Belleville, Illinois. His given name at birth was Christian Ludolf Ebsen Jr. Interestingly, he also went by the name Frank “Buddy” Ebsen.

One thing that helped put Buddy Ebsen on the way to stardom was a member of his immediate family. That person was his father, Christian Ludolf Ebsen Sr. And, he worked as a choreographer and even ran a dance studio at one point.

In 1928, the future star of “The Beverly Hillbillies” moved to New York City to try to make a career as a dancer. His sister, Vilma Ebsen, was also a dancer. They joined forces for an act that appeared in vaudeville. They even rose to perform on the Broadway stage.

Star of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and His Sister Had Screen Test With MGM in 1935

The careers of Buddy Ebsen and Vilma Ebsen began to take off in the mid-1930s when they had the chance to do a screen test for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1935. The screen test was a success, and Buddy and Velma went on to star in the “Broadway Melody of 1936.” Interestingly, the film was released in 1935.

It was during 1936 that “The Beverly Hillbillies” star would dance in a film starring one of the most famous child stars of the time – and in Hollywood history. That child star was Shirley Temple. And, that film was “Captain January.”

You can watch Buddy Ebsen dance alongside Shirley Temple in “Captain January” below.

Buddy Ebsen propelled his movie career to television fame. His tenure on “The Beverly Hillbillies” began in 1962. The show aired until 1971.

YouTube Viewers React to Video of Buddy Ebsen Dancing With Shirley Temple

The video of “The Beverly Hillbillies” star dancing with Shirley Temple is absolutely adorable. And, it showcases both of their talents as dancers and movie stars.

Unsurprisingly, viewers of this YouTube video had many good things to say about this dance number from “Captain January.”

“Amazing quality, they should have done more tap movies together, what a duo! That famous scene when she tugs him down to her size, epic!” one viewer said.

“It’s adorable watching Buddy Ebsen dance with Shirley Temple,” another posted.

“I count a mere FOUR FILM CUTS in the ENTIRE dance number AND both Shirley and Buddy are on full body the whole time. No tricks, no editing, no BS. This was one of Shirley’s very favorite numbers. She LOVED to dance above all else and she was a PRO, serious about it and you can see in her face the joy of an artist making art,” one other fan commented.