‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Aunt Bee Actress Frances Bavier ‘Didn’t Really Appreciate’ Her Role

by Joe Rutland
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(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Over the years, stories about Frances Bavier, Aunt Bee on the classic TV show The Andy Griffith Show, have been focused on her as a person. The actress happens to play the beloved motherly figure to Ron Howard, who was Opie. Bavier apparently did not get along too well with show star Andy Griffith. Did Bavier, though, come to appreciate her place in American entertainment? Not really.

Actor Ken Berry Reflected On Frances Bavier of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

“I don’t think she аppreciаted it аll thаt much.” actor Ken Berry said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “Until lаter in life, when she took аdvаntаge of it аnd hаd а good time with it. She probаbly аlwаys аspired to be а more serious аctress. She wаs а lovely lаdy who wаs very sweet. I аdmired her.” To classic TV fans, Berry’s name is synonymous with two shows. In the Mayberry world, Berry played Sam Jones on Mayberry R.F.D. Bavier was his costar on that show. Previously, he portrayed bumbling Captain Wilton Parmenter on F Troop.

Berry said in the interview that he really did like Bavier. “She wаs this аctress, аnd I think she wаnted to be known аs this theаtricаl аctress, you know, like some of her contemporаries,” he said. “But she’d gotten this job аs Aunt Bee аnd hаd become well-known for it.” Bavier did win an Emmy for her work on The Andy Griffith Show.

Cast Members Could Not Get Bavier For Reunion TV Movie, So They Looked To Voiceover Star

Yet the actress would live as a recluse upon leaving show business. In fact, she would move to Griffith’s home state of North Carolina and live there until she died. One of the other stories surrounding her involves Howard, Griffith, and the reunion TV movie Return to Mayberry. Howard and Griffith reportedly went to her house but Bavier would not open her door to them. Their pleas for her to come back one more time fell on deaf ears.

When they needed someone to provide Aunt Bee’s voice in the TV reunion movie, they looked to a familiar name in the voiceover world. Actress Janet Waldo might not be a household name to you. If you have ever watched The Jetsons, then you’ve heard her voice. For the movie, Waldo did voice lines associated with Aunt Bee. Waldo does make an appearance in a 1962 episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Bavier died in 1989, two years after Return to Mayberry aired on NBC. She had been in ill health for some time. Griffith, Howard, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, and George Lindsey reprised their characters one more time.

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