He Was A Dentist In Life And On TV
Many people recognize Edgar Buchanan’s face immediately. He played beloved characters on Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies. Buchanan, though always interested involved in theater and acting wherever he lived, was a dentist like his father before him.
While in college pursuing dentistry, Edgar met his future wife, Mildred Spence, who working towards the same degree. They both graduated in 1928, both with degrees in dentistry. Eventually, they moved to Oregon where they opened a private practice together. Even when Buchanan became the chief of oral surgery at the Eugene Hospital Clinic, he always found time to dabble in local theater and drama.
His big break came after they moved to Pasadene, California, where talent scouts saw some of his work. Buchanan became a successful (and busy) actor, though he continued to work as a dentist on sets or participating in occasional college courses. He turned the family practice over to his wife Mildred, however, as his acting career took off.
It is curious that in several of the films he appeared in, he portrayed a dentist on the frontier (Texas, 1941). His performance and portrayal in that film was such that dentists around the country expressed appreciation for his role. It makes sense that his performance was lauded; he’d been a practicing dentist since 1928. He wasn’t acting as much as he was portraying what he knew.