Rest in Peace, Mr. Ebsen.

Buddy Ebsen – Forever a Beverly Hillbilly
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actor Buddy Ebsen, who died on Monday aged 95, had an illustrious film career: kissing Barbara Stanwyck, playing Audrey Hepburn’s husband and co-starring with the likes of Shirley Temple and Gregory Peck.
But he will forever be identified with one enduring television role — genial Jed Clampett, patriarch of the dirt-poor Ozark hills family that became rich with an oil strike and moved to California in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
The show aired for nine seasons, from 1962 to 1971, making it one of CBS’ longest-running sitcoms. The first two years, it was the number one rated show on television attracting as many as 60 million viewers a week.
Yet after the first episode, critics pounded the show as an example of how low television would stoop for laughs. But Ebsen won over the viewers and made the role of Clampett his own and the show became a hit in 35 countries.
Ebsen then starred in another long-running TV show, playing the title role in the detective series, “Barnaby Jones,” which ran from 1973 to 1980, also on CBS.
In later life, he developed an oil-painting hobby into a thriving business, selling his self-portraits and folksy recreations of rural life on his Web site.
And in 2001, at the age of 93, he made became a novelist, publishing a romance called “Kelly’s Quest” that became a best-seller.
“There are a lot of me’s,” he commented at the time. “I didn’t retire. They retired me … So I just moved on to other things.”
By the time he became a TV star, Ebsen already had a full career on Broadway, including a featured spot in the “Ziegfeld Follies” and in movies, playing alongside such stars as Shirley Temple, Gregory Peck, Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell.
Barbara Stanwyck, a former dance partner, held a special place for Ebsen, who made the 1937 film “Banjo on my Knee” with her. “She gave me my first screen kiss. When she finished I couldn’t remember my next line,” he said with a smile.
Other films include “Captain January” with a 6-year-old Shirley Temple in 1936, “Davy Crockett” in 1955 and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1961.
In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” in which he played Audrey Hepburn’s husband Doc Golightly, Ebsen described working with Hepburn as like “trying on a perfectly tailored sport coat for the first time.”
A series of breaks, good and bad, marked the direction of Ebsen’s career. Rejected from his first Broadway role as being too tall, he later won a screen role in “Night People,” because at six-feet, three-inches (1.9 m), he was tall enough to play alongside Gregory Peck.
Another time, his dance act with his sister Vilma was spotted in an Atlantic City night club in 1930 by the influential columnist Walter Winchell, whose glowing review won the pair a part in the Broadway musical “Flying Colors.”
Bad luck was responsible for the biggest part he never played — a serious allergy to aluminum paint that was part of the make-up for the plum role of The Tin Man in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.”
Ebsen was hospitalized for two weeks in an oxygen tent from inhaling the paint but MGM executives thought he was malingering. “They told me to get the heck back to work,” Ebsen said. When he said he could not return, the role as one of Judy Garland’s friends on the Yellow Brick Road went to Jack Haley.
Born Christian Rudolph Ebsen on April 2, 1908, in Belleville, Illinois, he moved with his parents and four sisters to West Palm Beach, Florida, when he was 12.
He trained in his father’s dance school and took ballet lessons.
Married three times, he had seven children from his first two marriages. He is survived by his third wife Dotti.