Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Frances Bavier Didn’t Say ‘More Than Five Words’ to Don Knotts During ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Frances Bavier Didn’t Say ‘More Than Five Words’ to Don Knotts During ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Frances Bavier didn’t really do a lot of mixing with her co-stars on The Andy Griffith Show, including Don Knotts. Bavier was known to keep her own company. In fact, co-star Ron Howard, who was a kid at the time, has commented on seeing her sitting in a chair and reading the newspaper on breaks rather than socializing.

Still, Frances Bavier’s comments to The Herald-Sun regarding Don Knotts are quite interesting. “I don’t think I said more than five words to him the whole time,” Bavier explained. But she seemed to have a lot of respect for Knotts’ work. She must have just made a personal decision to keep her distance in some cases.

Frances Bavier Complimented Don Knotts’ Good Looks

She also “told on” herself in this interview. During the show’s run, Knotts developed a reputation for being a ladies’ man, which did not go unnoticed by Bavier. Here, she shares an interaction that was a little more than five words with him.

“One time I told him ‘You’re as attractive as Fred Astaire,’” Bavier said. “He has style and he thinks he’s a Don Juan. He used to wear a trench coat with the collar turned up and a girl on his arm. You had a hard time not laughing. But he’s nice, he’s very nice.”

One must admit that the sight of Knotts walking on the set that way might turn some heads. Going in to work that way, then turning on the jets as Barney Fife under the set lights is one good trick.

In this interview, it wasn’t lost on Bavier how receptive viewers have been to the show. At this time, The Andy Griffith Show was well entrenched in the world of syndication.

What did Bavier think of the show’s humor? She said, “The humor in The Andy Griffith Show is the hardest kind. It’s so gentle, so subtle. It’s not a farce, so you can’t scream it out. (And) it’s on a thin wire.”

So, the sitcom lasted for eight seasons on CBS. Don Knotts was a regular cast member for five seasons, while Frances Bavier stayed throughout the show’s run. She then kept playing Aunt Bee on Mayberry, R.F.D.

Bavier Saw ‘TAGS’ Episodes Like ‘Fairy Tales’

Seeing the popularity of Mayberry remain strong for so many years, Bavier had a thought as to why this happened. “They are like fairy tales,” she said of the different episodes. “Children read Cinderella a hundred times. The shows are like an adult fairy tale.”

Having been a Broadway- and stage-trained actress, one might think Bavier would return to that world. As it turns out, Bavier did not do so. She actually spent the latter years of her life in Siler City, North Carolina.

The Aunt Bee role was not one people considered as a “sidekick” one. That title pretty much would go along with Knotts’ Barney Fife next to Griffith’s Andy Taylor. Aunt Bee kept her nose to the grindstone around the Taylor household. Of course, she would make exceptions like when Aunt Bee made up a batch of her pickles. Eating all those pickles probably set Andy, Barney, and Opie’s appetites back a little bit.

Bavier didn’t want anything to do with reunion shows or TV movies connected to The Andy Griffith Show. Living in a small town relatively similar to Mayberry suited her just fine. Frances Bavier died in Siler City in 1989. But she’s still beloved to this very day for playing her part in the show’s success.

You can catch Frances Bavier and Don Knotts in old-school episodes of The Andy Griffith Show on its own Pluto TV channel. Reruns also air on TV Land.