Nancy Wolcott Mckeown was an American actress and dancer whose incredible career spanned over seven decades. Despite being well-known for being the ex-wife of Buddy Ebsen, she had a remarkable life of her own. In this article, we will take a closer look at the life, career, and legacy of Nancy Wolcott Mckeown.

Early Life and Education

Nancy Wolcott Mckeown was born on August 11, 1918, in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, United States. She attended North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois, and later went to Vassar College under Hallie Flanagan to gain knowledge about theatre. Her passion for theatre and performing arts paved the way for a successful career that spanned decades.

Career in the Entertainment Industry

Nancy Wolcott Mckeown was a talented actress and dancer who made a significant impact in the entertainment industry. In 1940, she was one of the first female lieutenants in the US Coast Guard during World War II. Afterward, she joined the Hudson Valley’s theater group named The Valley Vagabonds. She was also part of the Larks and the Roger Wagner Chorale, two well-known musical groups at that time.

One of Nancy’s most notable achievements was in the field of directing, where she directed the Guild of Orange County. She worked alongside actors and artists, directing shows and events, remaining a respected name in the industry.

Marriage to Buddy Ebsen

Nancy Wolcott Mckeown was married to the famous actor and dancer Buddy Ebsen. Ebsen previously tied the knot with Ruth Cambridge but the marriage ended in divorce after twelve years. In 1945, Buddy Ebsen and Nancy Wolcott McKeown got married, and they had four daughters and a son together, including Cathy Ebsen, Bonnie Ebsen, Susannah Ebsen, Kiki Ebsen, and Dustin Ebsen.

Their marriage withstood the test of time for 39 long years. However, the couple eventually divorced, putting an end to one of Hollywood’s longest-lasting marriages. After their divorce, Buddy Ebsen married his third wife, Dorothy “Dotti” Knott.

Legacy and Death

Nancy Wolcott Mckeown was a remarkable woman with a unique talent for acting and dancing, and an excellent directorial sense. She passed away at 89 years old, on May 14th, 2008, in Newport Beach, Orange County, California, United States. Her ex-husband, Buddy Ebsen, died of respiratory failure at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California, on July 6, 2003, at the age of 95.

Despite being best known for her marriage to Buddy Ebsen, Nancy Wolcott Mckeown will always be remembered for her incredible contributions to the entertainment industry. Her devotion to the arts and theatre, timeless performances, and her admirable service as part of the US Coast Guard, make her an inspiration to many.


Nancy Wolcott Mckeown played an integral role in the entertainment industry, both as an actress and a director. Her marriage to Buddy Ebsen is mostly associated with her life, but Nancy had a remarkable career herself. She was passionate about the arts and her contributions have earned her a place in Hollywood history. Her incredible talents, paired with her dedication to making a difference, have made her an unforgettable figure in the world of entertainment that will always be remembered with respect.