‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard’s Dad Suspected Andy Didn’t Want Frances Bavier Playing Aunt Bee

by Matthew Wilson
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Though they were loving and supporting on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Andy Griffith and Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee) didn’t get along in real life.

Griffith played Sheriff Andy Taylor, and Bavier was Aunt Bee on the popular show. Their characters formed a family unit with Taylor’s son Opie for eight seasons. But the two actors were less than warm in real life.

Their tensions have been well documented. But even cast members became aware of their feud when the cameras weren’t rolling. Even Ron Howard’s father Rance soon suspected that the two actors didn’t like each other. Ron Howard played Opie on the show and often interacted with both.

Howard’s father Rance remembered an exchange between Jim Nabors, who played Gomer, and Griffith. Nabors came to Bavier’s defense after Griffith criticized the actor.

“Jim Nabors counted Frances as a dear friend,” Rance said in “Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.” “One day on the set, Andy muttered something under his breath about Frances. And I remember we were walking back from a table reading on our way to the soundstage. And I heard Jim say, not loudly, but he said, ‘Andy, she’s a good actress. You be nice to her.’ And Andy had no reply for that.”

Ron Howard Commented on Andy Griffith’s Feud

Even Ron Howard, who was just a kid, remembered an unspoken tension between the two. The actor turned future director remembered Bavier keeping to herself.

“She kept to herself,” Howard told the Archive of American Television in 2006. “Frances very much kept to herself. She was a New York stage actress, and I think she always loved the job and appreciated it was a big success and was extremely professional. But I don’t think she ever felt a part of what these boys were up to and their shenanigans/” 

But Howard and Bavier remained friends until her death. He had nothing but positive things to say about Bavier and their time on the show together. Finally, Griffith and Bavier also ended their feud. They finally made amends before she died in 1989.

Over a phone call, the two forgave each other and were able to part on amicable terms.

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