Aunt Bee was the fictional aunt of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the popular sitcom, “The Andy Griffith Show.”
While she was his biographical aunt on the show, everyone in the town fondly called her “Aunt Bee.” Her first appearance on the show was in the very first episode, “The New Housekeeper.”
Aunt Bee is the epitome of what the show wanted Mayberry to be perceived as. She was warm, inviting, and gracious. Fans associate her with nice home-cooked meals and an overall wholesome motherly figure.
The actress who played Aunt Bee was Frances Bavier. She must have liked the fake setting of Mayberry enough because she actually retired somewhere eerily similar.
Aunt Bee and Frances Bavier Retirement
According to an AP News article from 1989, Bavier retired to a small town called Siler City, North Carolina. This town happens to be in the same region as the fictional town of Mayberry.
It has a lot of the same small-town-vibes that Mayberry from “The Andy Griffith Show” showcased as well. The town had a small size of only 5,000 residents with just a few banks, fast food restaurants, and department stores.
After her 10 years on the show, Bavier chose this as a place to escape the limelight and retire peacefully. Sadly, Bavier actually died only three days after the AP News article was published. She passed away in her home eight days before her 87th birthday.
Her headstone actually includes the name of her famous role as “Aunt Bee.” It also says, “To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die.”
Similar to her character, she made friends with the local residents of Siler City. They even took to calling her Aunt Bee as well. It was a pretty stark difference from her previous life out in Los Angeles, California.
″We get television crews and reporters down here all the time trying to get some information. They ask questions like ‘Is there an Andy Taylor sheriff here? Is there a deputy like Barney Fife?’ It’s ridiculous. All Aunt Bee wants is to be left alone. That’s why she came here – to retire in peace,” Police Detective Sgt. Alphonzo Craven said at the time.
Bavier won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress in 1967 for her portrayal of the character. She had several other roles in small films, but she will always be infamous for her portrayal of the caring Aunt Bee.
Interview After Retirement and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
After she was on “The Andy Griffith Show” for 10 years, Bavier also appeared on “Mayberry R.F.D.”
She left to retire in 1972 and said, “I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees.” She even left a $100,000 trust fund for the police force in the small town that now gives the officers a Christmas bonus every year.
According to an interview with Carolina Camera Reporter Bill Ballard had with Bavier after her retirement, Bavier and Andy Griffith didn’t really get along all too well. She does, however, give him partial credit to how much the show really was a representation of life in North Carolina. She said “a great deal” of Siler City is similar to Mayberry.
However, retirement was her escape from Aunt Bee and “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“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 that you as a person no longer exist. All the recognition you get is for a part that is created on the screen,” she said.
Bavier said some people always expected her to act as her character and would be disappointed when she wasn’t like her.