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Francis Bavier as Aunt Bee

Aunt Bee's Dying Words to Andy Griffith

by Billy Ingram

When Andy Griffith left The Andy Griffith Show in 1968, the production continued on as Mayberry RFD. The only original cast member, Frances Bavier, continued to play Aunt Bee on the new series.

Bavier left Mayberry RFD in 1970, the series was cancelled after the next season. That was the only year the Griffith/Mayberry show(s) fell out of the top 15, after there was no more Aunt Bee.

The actress moved to a small town in North Carolina, Siler City, mentioned often on the TV series, where Bavier lived as a recluse with dozens of cats. In her will, she left an annuity to the Siler City Police Department, to this day officers receive a bonus check every Christmas.

In a late-1980s TV interview, Andy Griffith talked about the last time he spoke with Frances Bavier. It was when he and Ron Howard (Opie) had rang her doorbell in 1985, unannounced, to try and talk her into doing at least a cameo as Aunt Bee on Return to Mayberry which was filming nearby.

“I hadn't talked to her in a long time,” Griffith says. “I went to see her one time in Siler City, I went to see her unannounced, and she flew all over me because I had come unannounced. So Lee Greenway was the makeup man on that show [Andy Griffith Show] and Lee Greenway was able to get Frances on the stage, because she wasn't always in real great shape emotionally. So Lee called me and said, ‘Frances wants to talk to you.’ So I called her up, ’Hi, Frances.’ ‘Oh Andy,’ she said. She said, ‘I must be made of cast iron. I've had a heart attack, now I have cancer. I'm only now just starting to die.’ I said, ‘Well, Frances…’ she said, ‘No, you can't do anything for me,’ and she said, ‘I’m sorry we didn't get along better.’ She said, ‘It was my fault,’ and she said, ‘I just wish I had. You ran the show and you made the show a success, and I'm just sorry we didn't get along better.’ We got along fine. It's just that she didn't feel like it lots of times.

“So she called, she wanted to talk to me and say goodbye. That's some experience.”

Read the tragic story of Aunt Bee in Siler City Here!

 

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Aunt Bee's Dying Words to Andy Griffith

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