‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ernest T. Bass Actor Howard Morris Described Why His Character Made Impression on Audiences

by Joe Rutland
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OK, fans of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Everybody knows Ernest T. Bass because he’s a unique character. Why does he stand out so much?

Howard Morris, who played Bass on the CBS classic TV sitcom, was asked about this during an interview with the Archive of American Television. He has his own thoughts on why Bass leaves such an impression on the show’s fans.

“Because he does everything the audience would like to do,” Morris said. “Bad behavior and gets away with it. So that appeals to them and it’s funny.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actor Worked On Comedy Chops With Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar

When it comes to what’s funny, then Morris, who died on May 21, 2005, at 85 years old, would truly know. “The Andy Griffith Show” guest star built up his comedic chops hanging around people like Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen. Where did he, you might ask? Well, he was an actor and writer on famed comedian Sid Caesar’s classic TV show “Your Show of Shows.”

One of the most famous sketches from that show happens to involve Morris. In a takeoff of “This Is Your Life,” where host Ralph Edwards would surprise a celebrity and bring out people from their lives, Caesar gets the treatment from Carl Reiner in the Edwards-type role.

When Caesar’s character starts seeing members of his family, Morris comes out at one point as “Uncle Goupy.” He ends up wrapping himself around one of Caesar’s legs and gets dragged around the stage. The audience laughs uncontrollably as Caesar, Morris, Reiner, and others kick the funny up a notch.

Morris Takes Bass Character Into Realm of Education All In The Name of Love

Morris played Ernest T. Bass in six episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” He also made one final appearance as Bass in the 1986 TV movie “Return to Mayberry.”

Obviously, some fans will recall his initial appearance trying to get Charlene Darling to marry him, a rough-and-tumble mountain man. That didn’t work out. But give old Ernest T. some credit. He kept on the love train beyond Charlene.

His eyes would fall on a woman named Ramona, but he called her “Romena.” The shenanigans went down in an episode called “The Education of Ernest T. Bass.” In order to get her attention, Bass believes getting an education will help out. So he goes off to attend the class of one Helen Crump [Aneta Corsault] and get some smarting-up.

Now the question becomes, borrowing a line from “The Sound of Music,” “How do you solve a problem like Ernest T.?” Simple. Sheriff Andy Taylor suggests Helen give him a “diploma” and graduate him in a ceremony. That’ll get him out of her classroom. Then he can go off and try to impress Ramona to marry him.

Funny times from a funny, smart man named Howard Morris.

Outsider.com