Buddy Ebsen (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

It was only natural that the Ebsen children should take dancing lessons as soon as they were able to walk, for their father owned one of the most important dancing schools in Orlando, Florida. Yet, when Buddy Ebsen was thirteen years old, he gave up the lessons because he thought they were “sissified.”

Buddy was born April 2 to Mr. and Mrs. Christian Rudolph Ebsen and, during his grade and high school years, he was largely interested in baseball. But when he entered the University of Florida, he took a pre-medical course with the idea of becoming a doctor.

He was forced to give up college after two years when the Florida boom ended and took with it the Ebsen bankroll. He went to New York and got a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad station as a soda-jerker.

Teamed With Sister

Dissatisfied, he applied for and got a job as a cowboy in “Whoopee.” Several months later he sent for his sister, Vilma, and the two began working out routines together. They went on the road with the show and when it closed in Cleveland, they returned home to Florida.

Vilma went to work in a night club in Atlantic City and Buddy joined her. They continued practicing their routines and finally danced together in the Babette Club. Walter Winchell saw their act, gave them a review in his column, and the next day they were besieged with offers.

Then they joined Benny Davis’ act and played night clubs and vaudeville, and did 25 weeks in the musical comedy, “Flying Colors.”

Married “Girl Friday”

Buddy celebrated their establishment on Broadway by marrying Ruth Cambridge, Walter Winchell’s “Girl Friday.” Then he and his sister went to Europe for an engagement at Monte Carlo. They came back to New York and spent six months with the “Ziegfeld Follies.”

After a five weeks’ tour with Abe Lyman and his band, they took a much-needed vacation at Orlando. Returning north, they joined the Iverton (Conn.) Stock Company and did a month of comedy and dramatic portrayals. Then they rejoined Abe Lyman, did a vaudeville tour and opened at the Central Park Casino as a featured act.

While dancing there, they were seen by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scout, who arranged for a screen test, which won them a contract. Special comedy acting parts were written into the script of “Broadway Melody of 1926” for the pair, as well as their featured dancing routines.

In “Born to Dance”

Buddy was borrowed by Twentieth Century to appear in the Shirley Temple picture, “Captain January.” He next appeared with Eleanor Powell in “Born to Dance” and Broadway Melody of 1938.

Vilma has since retired from the team to devote herself to the housewifely duties which she assumed when she married Bobby Dolan.

Buddy finds his relaxation in two widely diversified sports. He spends several evenings a week at the studio gymnasium, boxing with his trainer, and he has better than average ability. His other favorite sport is croquet and he has challenged all comers at M-G-M. His hobby is making candid camera photographs. His favorite dish is southern fried chicken and watermelon.

He is 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 165 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is an enthusiastic sailor and enjoys watching polo games. He spends most of his time between pictures originating and rehearsing new dance steps.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937