Today we remember The Andy Griffith Show‘s Bernard Fox, who was born May 11, 1927, on what would’ve been his 94th birthday.
Few icons have sported a mustache as gloriously as Bernard Fox before or since his passing. Best known to classic TV fans as Malcolm Merriweather on The Andy Griffith Show, Fox rose to fame as a key player in some of the biggest sitcom hits of all time.
Born Bernard Lawson on May 11, 1927, in Wales, the actor would later adopt the surname “Fox.” The renowned Welshman was a fifth-generation performer, his family being active in theatre for centuries. Bernard himself would begin his acting career as a child. A call to arms, however, put this on hiatus. Fox served in both World War II and Korea as a member of Britain’s Royal Navy.
Once his service came to an end, Fox would resume his family’s tradition. Branching from theatre into film, the actor would feature in over 30 films across his five-decade Hollywood career. Most notably, he gave life to Colonel Archibald Gracie IV in James Cameron‘s 1997 epic, Titanic. He would also become the voice of Chairmouse in Disney’s The Rescuers animated features.
His true calling, however, came via the small screen, as Silver Age Television cites for Bernard Fox’s birthday:
From ‘Bewitched’ to ‘The Andy Griffith Show’: The Remarkable Small Screen Career of Bernard Fox
Fox would enter the television world with a bang playing not one, but two characters on Bewitched. Fans will remember him as witch doctor Dr. Bombay, a character he originally reprised from 1967 to 1972 for a total of 18 episodes. His first foray into witchery, however, wasn’t as Bombay, but as a “witch debunker”. How the tables turned!
Fox was such a hit on the show that his Dr. Bombay would return for the 1977 sequel series: Tabitha (based on Bewitched’s titular character). Then, over two decades later, he would return as Bombay for the soap opera Passions in 1999. He would even spoof his character for Pee-wee’s Playhouse in 1989. Talk about longevity!
Congruently, Bernard Fox gained recognition as the lovable, bumbling “Colonel” Crittendon on Hogan’s Heroes. His character made such an impact that people remember Fox specifically for the role to this day – despite him only appearing in eight episodes. The very same can be said of his The Andy Griffith Show character, English valet Malcolm Merriweather – a character he appeared as for only three episodes in the long-running classic.
Through it all, Fox was married to his wife Jacqueline. The pair wed in 1962, raising two daughters together: Amanda and Valerie.
Then, early the morning of 14 December 2016, Fox would die of heart failure in Van Nuys, California. At the time, The Hollywood Reporter reflected on the storied career of the 89-year-old actor, much as we are today.
Happy Birthday and Rest in Peace, Bernard Fox. Your work lives on in memoriam!