‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ernest T. Bass Actor Howard Morris Once Said Former Co-Stars were ‘Lovely’ To Direct

by Joe Rutland
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Howard Morris was more than simply an actor playing Ernest T. Bass on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He directed some episodes as well.

When talking about those co-stars he worked with on the show, Morris had kind words to say about them in an interview with the Archive of American Television.

“Fine, they were lovely actors,” Morris said. “I didn’t have to teach anybody how to act. They were all there, totally efficient and proficient. And sufficient.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actor Directed 8 Episodes, Appeared In 6

Morris directed eight episodes during the 1963-64 season of “The Andy Griffith Show.” In his Ernest T. Bass character, Morris appeared in six episodes between 1963-65. It sure might seem that he made more appearances than that. When he did show up, though, they were memorable moments.

As fans of the show might know, Bass was a mountain man who would come down and visit Mayberry. He usually would make his arrival known to Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith, and Deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, with a rock through the sheriff’s office window.

He’d run around town, making goofy laughs, and even cause Mayberry citizens to stop their paths along Main Street. In one classic “The Andy Griffith Show” scene, Andy, Barney, and Gomer Pyle, played by Jim Nabors, watch Bass run away. Pyle says one thing, Taylor follows next and Fife puts it succinctly, saying, “He’s a nut.”

Morris Makes Initial Appearance As Bass Trying To Get Charlene Darling’s Hand In Marriage

Obviously, Bass is kind of known as a guy who wants to find true love in his life. He makes his first appearance in an episode called “Mountain Wedding.” Bass is quite interested in wooing Charlene Darling, who already is married. But that’s beside the point when it comes to Ernest T. Bass. He will not be denied his chance to ask for Charlene’s hand in marriage.

It doesn’t work out. See, Andy and the Darlings set up a pseudo wedding where Bass will “marry” Charlene. The ceremony takes place, “Charlene” is by his side, and they run off into the hills. When the pair stop running, Bass turns to his bride. It turns out that Fife has been wearing the wedding dress. The Mayberry police department got one over on old Erneset T.

“The Andy Griffith Show” was one sitcom where actors could flex their comedy muscles to the brim. Morris already had some comedic work to his credit, writing and acting with legendary comedian Sid Caesar on “Your Show Of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.”

Morris died on May 21, 2005, at 85 years old. His work in front of and behind the camera on the CBS sitcom is not forgotten. It remains as funny today as when it first aired in the 1960s.

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