‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Made Francis Bavier Want to Play a Different Kind of Character

by Joe Rutland

Frances Bavier nailed playing Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show” and enjoyed it. Sometimes, she wanted a little bad-girl attitude in there.

Bavier, before gaining stardom on TV, spent time playing different roles in Broadway theaters. Her range was far, far more than the warm, sweet Aunt Bee who helps Andy and Opie at their Mayberry home.

She wanted to play a full range of characters, but the viewing public simply saw Bavier as Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

There’s an interesting interview where Bavier, according to CheatSheet.com, talks about the trials of being seen as Aunt Bee all the time.

Frances Bavier Found Acting Roles Tough Outside Show

In a 1966 interview, Bavier admitted that “it’s terribly difficult because Aunt Bee is so much nicer than the real me.”

“Unlike plays in which you play a character only a couple of hours each night, you must be a television character 12 hours a day,” Bavier said. “And even when you go home, people don’t recognize you as you, but for the character (that) you play. It can be awfully confusing.”

Bavier said that “once in a while I get a hankering to play a really bad woman.”

She recalls paying a role on “The Lone Ranger” where the female character had some nastiness in her.

Bavier Didn’t Get Along With ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star

What happened? Bavier said “so many people wrote in outrage at what I was doing, I guess it was a mistake.”

“Sometimes it gets me down to think I’ve lost my own identity and my identity as an actress,” she said. “But other times I get a lift when I realize that I’m really doing quite well.”

It’s no secret Bavier and star Andy Griffith did not get along. In fact, there would periods of time where neither one spoke to each other away from “The Andy Griffith Show” set. While Aunt Bee provided Bavier with a steady role and paycheck for a number of years, the toll of doing the role had drawbacks.

After playing Aunt Bee in both “The Andy Griffith Show” and its spinoff, “Mayberry R.F.D.” starring Ken Berry, Bavier never reprised the role again. But her ability to make Aunt Bee believable remains a testament to this stage actress’ abilities.