‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Aunt Bee Actress Frances Bavier Feared Fans Would Be ‘Disappointed’ She Was Not Like Her Character in Real Life

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

After playing an iconic role on a long-running television show many actors become very closely identified with that role. And, fans often expect the actor to be exactly like the character he or she played. This was the case for Frances Bavier on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Bavier played the loving, wise, and kind Aunt Bee on the popular 1960s sitcom. She was the aunt to Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor and the great-aunt to his son, Opie, who was played by Ron Howard. But it wasn’t just Andy and Opie who loved her – pretty much all the residents of Mayberry saw her as their Aunt Bee.

This was also true for fans of “The Andy Griffith Show.” According to an interview Bavier gave to Carolina Camera after the show ended, most people saw her only as Aunt Bee and not as the person she actually was. And, because the character of Aunt Bee was so beloved by so many, Bavier felt a lot of pressure not to disappoint them.

“I had played Aunt Bee for 10 years. And, it’s very, very difficult for an actress or an actor to create a role and be so identified (with that role) that you as a person no longer exist,” Bavier said. “And all the recognition you get is for a part that is created on the screen.”

The interviewer asked Bavier if people assumed she would “act and react” to situations as Aunt Bee would have on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Her answer was a resounding, “Yes.”

“I think so,” she added. “And I think they’re disappointed if I destroy the image.”

Aunt Bee Actress Moved to Small North Carolina Town After ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Interestingly, Bavier moved to a small North Carolina town after “The Andy Griffith Show” came to an end. That town was Siler City and it shared a lot in common with the fictional town of Mayberry.

So, the interviewer asked Frances Bavier if people in Siler City tried to set her up on dates just as the people of Mayberry would do for Aunt Bee.

“No,” she responded with a laugh. “They haven’t confused me to that extent. They see a 70-year-old lady and think that she probably wants to be alone.”

Bavier also said that residents of her adopted home weren’t always sure how to react when they encountered her.

“They’re having a problem with trying to be friendly and show their friendliness, at the same time not intrude. It makes it very difficult for them…I’ve had many, many Christmas cards and gifts and it was a little difficult adjustment for me when I first came. I have a great deal to learn from Siler City and from North Carolina. It’s an entirely different new way of life,” she said. “And at 70, I think if you still keep trying to change and adjust your mind stays a little more alert. So, if I can match up with any of the 85-year-olds and 90-year-olds I’ve met, I’ll be fortunate. They’re smart.”

Bavier was also asked if Siler City was anything like the Mayberry of the television scripts.

“Very, very much,” she said in response. “Great deal of it.”