It's been amazing to look back at the career of Buddy Ebsen: so much talent packed into a really nice guy. He came from a strong athletic family of German immigrants who settled in southern Illinois. Early on he realized he had a proclivity for music, playing the saxophone and becoming a near-world class dancer.
So off to Hollywood he went, dancing with the likes of Shirley Temple. His lithe body movements made him a natural for the part of the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz." But soon inhaling the powered aluminum makeup, that was first designed for his character, sent him to a hospital. He nearly died. The makeup was changed and Jack Haley took the part.
We best remember him as "Mr. Welll Doggies," Jed Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies." But he was also Doc Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." And, as a complete change of character, he became Barnaby Jones in the long-running TV detective series of the same name.
Now he spends time collecting mementos of rural America and cranks out some really great artwork. His Web site -- buddyebsen.com -- contains some great snapshots taken over the years and opportunities to buy his books and artwork. By the way, "The Other Side of Oz" is a great book about his early career and his near-death experience during filming of the movie. If you know where to look you can still see him in some of the long shots taken before he got sick. And if you need a quick "Hillbillies fix," try going to pcperspectives.com/hillbillies/hillbill.html on the Internet.
Happy birthday, Jed.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: I REMEMBER MAMA
In a recent interview with Carrie Fisher on the Oxygen network, funnyman Robin Williams talked fondly about his late mother. Laurie Williams died at age 79 last September. On "Conversations from the Edge with Carrie Fisher," Williams remembers her as a "stylish Southern woman."
People magazine, relaying the interview, says that apparently the elder Williams was, much like her comedic son, always the center of attention. He says she often "worked the line" when he brought her to movie premieres. "She left Joan Rivers speechless," he told Fisher.
Well, at least we know where Robin gets his talkativeness.
LOOK FOR 'TV GUIDE' TO WHOOP IT UP
The 50th anniversary of the publication of the first TV Guide magazine is quickly approaching. And according to the company's Web site, it plans to celebrate the anniversary in a big way. As part of the celebration -- which culminates one year from this week -- there will be a special post mark OK'd by the Postal Service containing the magazine's logo.
Special retrospective issues will be printed.
ABC is going to air "TV Guide's 50 Best Shows of All Time." It will be a one-hour special and will be broadcast next month.
It all started in the spring of 1953, when television was in its infancy and many small cities didn't have a single station yet. Publisher Walter Annenberg, the president of Triangle Publications, thought that the country was ready for a colorful, small magazine that would have a national section but also provide local listings. Initially there were fewer than a dozen separate editions. Now there are more than 125. TV Guide has become the nation's hottest selling weekly magazine.
BEATLES HAD EARLY PLANS FOR 'RING' MOVIE
If the Beatles had been successful in the '60s there might have been an earlier version of "The Lord of the Rings" on the silver screen. The Wellington (New Zealand) Post newspaper says that the director of the current "Rings" hit movie, Peter Jackson, learned from none other than Sir Paul McCartney that the Fab Four had its own plans to produce a film based on the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The publication says that McCartney made the disclosure during a conversation with Jackson at this year's Oscars.
According to Jackson, Paul was to have played Frodo in the project. The problem was that Tolkien didn't like the Beatles' plans and nixed the idea, refusing to sell them the movie rights.
Had the movie been produced, all four of the quartet would have had roles. In addition to McCartney's part, Ringo would have played Sam, George would have been Gandalf and John would have tagged along.
DOROTHY MCGUIRE 'FORGOTTEN' AT OSCARS
The surviving family of beautiful actress Dorothy McGuire says it's disappointed and amazed that when the Oscar people put together their annual montage of notables who had died during the past year, Dorothy was left out. According to the Hollywood Reporter, McGuire's face was not among those shown during the 74th annual movie-fest awards.
McGuire was a nominee for best actress in 1947 for her role in "Gentleman's Agreement." She also is remembered for "The Spiral Staircase," "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Old Yeller."
Meanwhile, the family and others have launched a letter-writing campaign to officials of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences suggesting that something be done at next year's awards show to remember the late actress.
McGuire's death went largely unreported, at least on page ones around the country, because it came just two days after the events of 9/11.