Frances Bavier worked on Broadway before finding TV history on The Andy Griffith Show with a Southern accent to boot. Of course, Bavier played Aunt Bee throughout the show’s eight-season run. At first, though, she found it hard to believe people talked with that deep of an accent.
She read a script for the show before it started filming. According to an article in The Calgary Herald, Bavier said, “But people simply don’t talk like that…” Maybe where she comes from (a native of New York City), but down south accents can be heavy.
Bavier went ahead and joined the show’s cast. During its run, Aunt Bee provided a steady hand while making sure Andy and Opie had hot meals. Her thoughts about the Southern accent didn’t progress much until Bavier visited the region. That changed her tune pretty quickly.
Frances Bavier Caught on to Southern Accent
“It was my first trip to the South,” Bavier said. “I didn’t believe it before. I thought Andy was making it up.” Nope, Griffith knew what he was talking about. Griffith grew up in North Carolina, so he had an inkling about how people talked. The words and phrases notable to the sitcom probably had some connection to Griffith’s upbringing.
Ironically, Bavier ended up falling in love with the South. That’s right! Aunt Bee caught on to how people in the South treated others and spoke to one another. She talked about almost getting a place to live in North Carolina.
“I almost put money down on an old house in Silver City, N.C.,” she told the Herald, MeTV reports. “But the real estate man knew I was acting impulsively and made me think it over. I do believe in many ways it’s a better life in a small town. But I worry whether you always have to be political and polite. I think it takes skill to live in a small town and you have to tread very gently.”
Maybe that was Bavier’s East Coast sensibilities talking to her. Nevertheless, Bavier, upon retirement, moved to Siler City, N.C. She lived there until her death. But Griffith and Ron Howard made a house call to Bavier.
Bavier Declined Role In TV Movie
They wanted Bavier to reprise her role as Aunt Bee for a TV movie, Return to Mayberry.
When they knocked on her front door, Bavier reportedly would not open it. Griffith and Howard spoke to her through the closed front door. She declined to be a part of the TV movie, and Griffith and Howard left.
There’s not a lot known about her life in Siler City as Bavier chose to be a pretty private person. Still, Bavier had silly moments. Attorney Sam Williams, who represented Bavier, talked with The Charlotte Observer about Bavier after she died in 1989.
He said that when she called him, Bavier would say, “This is Aunt Bee” on the phone. Williams added that Bavier slowed down a bit. She became more like Aunt Bee with her mannerisms and characteristics, Williams said. “I remember the day I met her,” he said. “It was like Pearl Harbor. It was a day you don’t forget.”
The Observer states that Bavier was open to meeting neighborhood children near her home. Upon her death at 89 years old, Bavier chose to be interred at a cemetery in Siler City.
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