"If brains was lard, Jethro couldn't grease a pan."
Thus proclaimed Jed Clampett, portrayed vividly by Buddy Ebsen, on the long-running hit "The Beverly Hillbillies." For many years, Ebsen was considered the biggest star to ever come out of Orlando. He graduated from Orlando High School in 1926.
Ebsen was 95 when he died in 2003. April 2 was his birthday, and TCM will salute him by playing a string of his movies on Thursday.
Of course, TV was where Ebsen's career took off in "Davy Crockett," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones."
But before Jed struck oil, Ebsen was a song-and dance man -- his dad had been Orlando's first professional dance teacher. (The Ebsens were ahead of their time.)
My colleague Dewayne Bevil tells me, "A glimpse of Buddy Ebsen can be seen at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream attraction. Visitors there can see a 1949 film clip of Ebsen dancing, which was used in the development of Disney’s famed audio-animatronics."
The TCM movies with Ebsen on Thursday:
6:45 a.m.: "Broadway Melody of 1936" with Jack Benny, Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell.
8:30 a.m.: "Broadway Melody of 1938" with Eleanor Powell, George Murphy and Robert Taylor.
10:30 a.m.: "The Girl of the Golden West" (1938) with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
3:30 p.m. "The Kid From Texas" (1939) with Dennis O'Keefe and Jack Carson.
4:45 p.m.: "They Met in Argentina" (1941) with Maureen O'Hara and James Ellison.
6:15 p.m.: "Sing Your Worries Away" (1942) with Bert Lahr and June Havoc.
Ebsen lost a chance to work with Lahr on "The Wizard of Oz." Ebsen was to play the Tin Man, but the makeup made him violently ill. He called his autobiography "The Other Side of Oz." He did all right on the other side of Oz, striking showbiz oil.