‘The Andy Griffith Show’: One Star Balanced Work on the Show With His Time in the Circus

by Keeli Parkey
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On the screen, the fictional town of Mayberry in “The Andy Griffith Show” was full of unique and colorful characters. There were also unique and colorful characters working on the beloved sitcom behind the scenes.

One of the more interesting of these characters was actor Parley Baer. According to MeTV, he played the character of Mayor Roy Stoner in “The Andy Griffith Show.” However, the sitcom wasn’t his only gig. See, Baer also spent time with the circus.

It was during the third season of the sitcom that Baer joined the cast. Mayor Stoner took over from Mayor Pike. The change was prompted by the death of Dick Elliot – the actor who played Mayor Pike. When Baer joined the Mayberry family in 1963 a report by the Elmira Star-Gazette newspaper described Baer’s work with the circus. “Parley Baer of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ is a former wild animal trainer, still works eight weeks a year as a circus publicity man,” the report said.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actor Parley Baer Married Into a Circus Family

The circus gave “The Andy Griffith Show” actor Parley Baer more than just a living. It also helped him find love.

After he was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, Baer met and married a circus performer named Ernestine Clarke. She worked as both an aerialist and a bareback rider for a circus, and she came from a circus family. Her father, Ernest, set a circus record. He was the very first performer to successfully complete a triple somersault on a flying trapeze.

As far as his circus career went, the future “The Andy Griffith Show” actor began as a tiger and lion tamer. He spent most of his years in the circus working for the Pollack Brothers circus.

“The Andy Griffith Show” isn’t the only famous television show where you can find Parley Baer. He also appeared in such classics as “The Addams Family” – where he also played a mayor. He had roles in “The Rifleman,” “Perry Mason,” “Wagon Train,” and “Rawhide.”

Baer was also famous for his work on the radio. For example, he was behind the character of Chester on “Gunsmoke” while it was on the radio. The famous show later moved to television. Baer also played the role of Eb on the radio version of “Green Acres.” The radio version of this show was known as “Granby’s Green Acres.”

According to IMDb, Parley Baer was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Aug. 5, 1914. He passed away on Nov. 22, 2002, in Los Angeles, California, after having a stroke. He was 88 years old at the time of his death. He and Ernestine were married until she passed away in 2000. They had two children together.

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