Buddy was a nice guy. I got to spend a bit of time with him a few years ago. Hell, longer than that. I had hair. Buddy looked older than dirt back then, and I remember he had one of those phlegmy voices that always made you want to clear your throat. Professionally, it's fairly well known that he started as a dancer, and was the original choice for the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Audrey Hepburn's husband in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and of course Jed Clampett, amongst others.
In 1998 Buddy had heart surgery, and was given a valve from a pig's heart. He came through the operation just fine, thank ya kindly.
On June 26, 2003, Buddy was hospitalized in Torrance, with pneumonia. It was announced that his condition was "good."
While in the hospital, Max and Donna visited and reminisced. That would have been wild to have heard.
On July 6, 2003, Buddy died at 9:30 AM. He was 153 years old.
There was a private family funeral, and his ashes were scattered at sea. Buddy was a nut for sailing, and except for the fact that there is no place for fans to pay their respects, it was the perfect farewell. You can leave virtual flowers here.
On Saturday August 30th, there was a memorial service for Buddy at the Television Academy in North Hollywood. Attending were Lee Meriwether, Jane Withers, Max Baer, Donna Douglas, Linda Henning and Fess Parker. It was so crowded, people were turned away. There was a color guard because Buddy was in the Coast Guard. Dick Van Dyke hosted the event, which included a video presentation (which Buddy narrated) and tap dancers. At the end, Kiki, Buddy's daughter, sang a song that Buddy wrote. Buddy was very active in preparing his own memorial. Max Baer spoke, and broke down because Buddy was sort of a surrogate father to him.
Interesting fact: Shirley Temple refused an invitation to the memorial service.
There was also a display of Buddy's artwork.
Trivia: The Dick Van Dyke Show succeeded because of the Beverly Hillbillies. TDVDS was cancelled early on, and Sheldon Leornard pleaded to have it put back on right after the Hillbillies, which gave it an audience and made it work. Dick owes a lot to Buddy and the gang.
Honorable Mention: On Friday March 25th 2005, Mr. Paul Henning passed away. Paul created The Beverly Hillbillies, which spawned Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. Rest In Peace, Paul. I hope you know how much you made us laugh.
Check out the rest of the Hillbillies, HERE.
Check out Buddy's official website, HERE.