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Buddy Ebsen Net Worth

What Was Buddy Ebsen’s Net Worth?

Buddy Ebsen was an American actor, dancer, author, and producer who had a net worth of $6 million at the time of his death in 2003. Buddy Ebsen was best known for starring as Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1962–1971) and as the titular character on “Barnaby Jones” (1973–1980), which both aired on CBS.

Buddy had more than 100 acting credits to his name, including the films “The Kid from Texas” (1939), “Sing Your Worries Away” (1942), “Night People” (1954), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), and “The Interns” (1962), the TV movies “The Daughters of Joshua Cabe” (1972), “The President’s Plane is Missing” (1973), “The Paradise Connection” (1979), and “Fire on the Mountain” (1981), and the television series “Corky and White Shadow” (1956), “Northwest Passage” (1958–1959), and “Matt Houston” (1984–1985). He also produced “The Paradise Connection.” Ebsen published the books “Polynesian Concept” (1972), “The Other Side of Oz” (1994), “Kelly’s Quest”(2000), and “Sizzling Cold Case: The Legend of Lori London, a Barnaby Jones Novel” (2006), and he released the albums “Buddy Ebsen Says Howdy” (1965), “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1966), and “Buddy’s Originals” (2001). He also performed in Broadway productions of “Whoopee!” (1928–1929), “Flying Colors” (1932–1933), “Ziegfeld Follies of 1934,” “Yokel Boy” (1939–1940), and “Show Boat” (1946–1947). Buddy died on July 6, 2003, at the age of 95 from respiratory failure.

Early Life

Buddy Ebsen was born Christian Ludolf Ebsen Jr. on April 2, 1908, in Belleville, Illinois. He was the son of Frances Wendt and Christian Ludolf Ebsen Sr., and he had three sisters. Buddy’s father was from Germany, and he was a choreographer. Ebsen’s mother, a Baltic German, was a painter. When Buddy was 10 years old, he moved to Palm Beach County, Florida, with his family, then they relocated to Orlando in 1920. His father opened a dance studio, and the Ebsen children learned to dance there. Buddy attended Orlando High School, graduating in 1926. As a teenager, he joined the John M. Cheney Chapter of the fraternal organization Order of DeMolay, and the organization awarded him the Legion of Honor Degree and inducted him into the DeMolay Alumni Hall of Fame as an adult. After high school, Ebsen attended the University of Florida from 1926 to 1927 and Rollins College from 1927 to 1928. He dropped out of college at the age of 20 because his family was having financial problems, reportedly due to the end of the Florida land boom.


In 1928, Buddy moved to New York City with less than $30 to pursue a career as a dancer. He formed a dance act with his sister Vilma, “The Baby Astaires,” and they performed in the Broadway musicals “Whoopee!,” “Ziegfeld Follies of 1934,” and “Flying Colors.” Ebsen made his film debut in 1935’s “Broadway Melody of 1936,” and he followed it with “Captain January” (1936), “Born to Dance” (1936), “Banjo on My Knee” (1936), “Broadway Melody of 1938” (1937), “The Girl of the Golden West” (1938), “Yellow Jack” (1938), “My Lucky Star” (1938), “Four Girls in White” (1939), and “The Kid from Texas” (1939). He was cast as the Scarecrow in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz,” but then he swapped roles with Ray Bolger, who wanted to play that role instead of the Tin Man. Unfortunately, Buddy reacted badly to the aluminum dust used in the character’s make-up because it was coating his lungs. The studio replaced him with Jack Haley, but Ebsen’s singing voice still appeared on the soundtrack in reprises of “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” After his recovery, Buddy was involved in a long contract dispute with MGM, and he applied to join the U.S. Coast Guard. He served as a lieutenant, junior grade, and a damage control officer before being promoted to an executive officer. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Ebsen appeared in the films “They Met in Argentina” (1941), “Sing Your Worries Away” (1942), “Silver City Bonanza” (1951), “Thunder in God’s Country” (1951), “Red Garters” (1954), “Night People” (1954) “Attack” (1956), and “Between Heaven and Hell” (1956), and from 1958 to 1959, he played Sergeant Hunk Marriner on the NBC series “Northwest Passage.” From 1962 to 1971, Buddy starred as Jed Clampett on the CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which aired 274 episodes over nine seasons. He reprised his role in the 1981 TV movie “The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies.” Around this time, Ebsen also appeared in the films “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “The Interns” (1962), “Mail Order Bride” (1964), and “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band” (1968) and the TV movies “The Andersonville Trial” (1970), “The Daughters of Joshua Cabe” (1972), “The Horror at 37,000 Feet” (1973) “Tom Sawyer” (1973), and “The President’s Plane is Missing” (1973). From 1973 to 1980, Buddy starred in the title role on the CBS detective series “Barnaby Jones.” The series aired 178 episodes over eight seasons, and Ebsen had a cameo as the character in the 1993 film adaptation of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” During his time on “Barnaby Jones,” Buddy appeared in the TV movies “Smash-Up on Interstate 5” (1976), “Leave Yesterday Behind” (1978), “The Bastard” (1978), “The Critical List” (1978), and “The Paradise Connection” (1979). From 1984 to 1985, he played Roy Houston on the ABC crime drama “Matt Houston.” In 1999, he lent his voice to an episode of the animated series “King of the Hill,” which ended up being his final role.

Buddy Ebsen Net Worth Buddy Ebsen 1

(Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images)

Personal Life

Buddy married Ruth Margaret McCambridge on July 10, 1933, and they welcomed two daughters before divorcing in January 1945. Ebsen wed Nancy Craft Wolcott, a fellow lieutenant, on September 6, 1945, and they had five children together. After Buddy and Nancy divorced in 1985, he married Dorothy “Dotti” Knott, who was 40 years younger than him, on March 3rd of that year. The couple remained together until Ebsen’s death in July 2003. Buddy collected coins, and in 1987, he co-founded the Beverly Hills Coin Club. His collection included a four-dollar gold piece that was worth $200,000.


On July 6, 2003, Ebsen passed away from respiratory failure at California’s Torrance Memorial Medical Center. He was 95 years old at the time of his death.

Awards and Nominations

Ebsen earned Photoplay Award nominations for Favorite Comedy Star and Favorite TV Program for “The Beverly Hillbillies” in 1967, and the cast won a TV Land Award for Favorite “Fish Out of Water” in 2004. In 1984, Buddy was honored with a Golden Boot at the Golden Boot Awards. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Motion Picture category) in 1960 and on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 1991.

Real Estate

Ebsen lived in a 4,482 square foot home on Balboa Island in California. The six-bedroom, four-bathroom home was built in the mid-1960s, and Buddy’s children sold it for $5 million in 2015. The home was demolished in 2016 to make way for a new house.

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