In “The Andy Griffith Show Reunion,” Opie actor Ron Howard revealed two things that come to mind when he remembers Aunt Bee actress Frances Bavier.
“When I think of her, I actually think about nurturing and I think about food,” Howard shared. “Of course, Frances didn’t do the cooking. Reggie Smith, our prop guy, made it right over here in the prop room. But a lot of problems can be solved with a piece of pie or a piece of fried chicken.”
Watch the “Andy Griffith Show Reunion” clip here:
On ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Bavier Could Be Tough to Work With
Howard may recall Bavier as nurturing, but the actress could be tough to work with as far as the other adults were concerned. In Richard Kelly’s 1981 book “The Andy Griffith Show,” co-creator and executive producer Sheldon Leonard told Kelly that Bavier was not exactly warm and fuzzy.
She was “a rather remote lady,” Leonard told Kelly. “Highly professional and a fine comedienne, fine actress with very individual character. She was rather self-contained and was not part of the general hijinks that centered upon Andy on the set.”
Director Howard Morris went further. According to Closer Weekly, he told pop culture historian Geoffrey Mark that directing Bavier was “like stepping on a landmine. If you would ask her to move three inches to the right to get in the proper frame, she’d blow a fuse and refuse.”
Bavier Died in North Carolina
The actress died in December of 1989 at age 86. She suffered heart failure shortly after leaving the cardiac care unit of Chatham County Hospital in North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.
Over the course of her life, Bavier gained more than 20 years of stage experience. She was a veteran actress by the time she started on “The Andy Griffith Show” at age 57. And she won an Emmy for her portrayal of Aunt Bee in 1967.
“Many episodes focused on her and she was essential to the success of the show,″ John Meroney, founder of the Andy Griffith Show Appreciation Society, told the AP. “[She] had more experience going in than any of the other cast members. She was the only one from a large city and the fact that she could portray Aunt Bee showed the depth of her talent.”
Bavier had settled in Siler City, North Carolina in 1972. A reclusive person, she refused media interviews, and when she was in the hospital she would only agree to see Andy Griffith, Don Knotts or Ron Howard.