Even though it has been decades since The Andy Griffith Show aired its last episode, it’s still popular, and fans still want to know more about the behind-the-scenes secrets of the show. A recent book from Simon and Schuster is giving the public what it wants. Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American Television Show details the truth behind the hilarious sitcom, and some of its revelations may surprise fans. For example, although the crew was incredibly tight, there was one member who didn’t like the casual atmosphere on set.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was about a single dad
Andy Griffith, the star and namesake of the show, played Andy Taylor, a sheriff in the tiny town of Mayberry. Andy lost his wife, but is taking care of his son Opie with the help of Aunt Bee, and of the rest of Mayberry.
Despite being the law in town, Andy doesn’t carry a gun. His deputy, Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, does carry a firearm. However, it only has one bullet.
The show had an eight year run between 1960 and 1968, during which CBS aired almost 250 episodes.
It launched Ron Howard’s career. He played little Opie on the show. Considering the fact that Howard was just 6 years old when the show started, it can’t be argued that Andy Griffith gave Howard his introduction into show business.
Frances Bavier didn’t like working on the show
Aunt Bee, played by Frances Bavier, was one of the main characters of the show. She essentially worked as a cook and housekeeper for Andy. Her performance earned her an Emmy. She and Don Knotts were the only actors from The Andy Griffith show to win the prestigious television award.
But, despite how well she acted, Bavier was actually very unhappy on the set of Andy Griffith.
Griffith kept things light on set. He frequently played pranks on his cast members, especially Knotts. Sometimes he was on the receiving end of the antics.
The cast would dance and sing together as soon as the camera stopped rolling, but Bavier made a point to stay above the fray. She considered herself to be a professional, and she saw the behavior on set as below her, and decidedly unprofessional.
She and Griffith had a strained relationship, but neither let their personal relationship show on-screen. Apparently, Bavier once got so mad at Griffith that she hit him over the head with her umbrella.
Aside from ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Frances Bavier has an impressive resume
Bavier was a professional actress, and spent most of her career in New York. She definitely wasn’t accustomed to laissez-faire attitude of Griffith’s set.
She was born in 1902, which means by the time she landed the role of Aunt Bee, Bavier was already pushing 60. She spent most of her career on Broadway.
By 1951 she had moved on to movies. Her first film was The Day the Earth Stood Still, now a sci-fi classic. She would go on to act in a lot of popular movies and television shows until 1960 when she took on her most famous role on The Andy Griffith Show.
Playing a character long-term can take a toll on a star and that’s exactly what happened to Bavier.
“You can’t be an actress for 40 years, living in a world of make-believe, and not be affected,” she told Star-Gazette in 1966, reports Closer Weekly. “Sooner or later, your mind begins to click and in my case you are wise to seek professional help to help stop being Aunt Bee after work. It’s terribly difficult, because Aunt Bee is so much nicer than the real me.”
She added: “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. And even when you go home, people don’t recognize you as you, but for the character you play. It can be awfully confusing.”
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