The actor who played Barney Fife‘s mother on The Andy Griffith Show was a part of the family who founded the city where the show was filmed. The actress, named Lillian Culver, was the wife of Henry Culver, a prominent real-estate developer who formed, yes, that Culver City in California. The city now hosts multiple studio lots, including the one where the Mayberry set was located.
We never learn Barney Fife’s mother’s name, but many in the industry knew Culvers. Amongst the lots that the family owned was the one that became RKO Forty Acres, where The Andy Griffith Show was filmed.
While Lillian Culver didn’t own the lot when The Andy Griffith Show was in production, her family’s previous ownership of the land gave her a unique tie to the set. Star Trek and Gone with The Wind were also filmed on the lot.
Silent film legend Hal Roach also purchased a studio lot there along with MGM. Culver city remains to this day one of the prominent locations where countless television shows and movies are filmed.
She appears in the episode of The Andy Griffith Show called The Manhunt. In the episode, Barney Fife, determined to catch a criminal, searches everyone he possibly can, including his own mom. Culver retired from acting in 1915 after marrying her husband, only to start acting again after his passing in 1946.
Culver also played Mrs. Schooner in Dennis the Menace. She played roles in films such as Million Dollar Mermaid, The Band Wagon, The Bad and the Beautiful, Sincerely Yours, Daddy Long Legs, All that Heaven Allows, Tammy and the Bachelor, Pillow Talk, and Blue Hawaii. She passed away at 103 years old in 1999.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actress also had a Connection to ‘I Love Lucy’
Due to the fact that her husband was the real-estate mogul that formed Culver city, Lillian Culver also had a connection to I Love Lucy and Lucille Ball. Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, purchased the RKO Forty Acres Culver City lot for their production company, Desilu Productions.
Lillian Culver was one of the most well-connected actresses in Hollywood at the time. She’s still connected to big Hollywood names to this day, and not just through her family’s real estate ownership. Brad Pitt is actually her third cousin twice removed.
You can catch her fun cameo in The Andy Griffith Show in the second-ever episode of the show. The show went on to be one of the most successful TV comedies in history.