Frances Bavier: Better Known as Aunt Bee

Frances Bavier shown on lower right in photo with Ron Howard on her left and Don Knotts and Andy Griffith in the back row had a big part in the success of the Andy Griffith Show which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

Frances Bavier was born in New York City on December 14, 1902. She appeared in vaudeville, in old time radio in an episode of The Lone Ranger on March 24, 1955, on Broadway, in the movies and on television.

She made her first Broadway appearance in 1925 in The Poor Nut and her last appearance was in 1951 in Point of No Return with Henry Fonda.

Her first movie appearance was in Girls About Town which was released in 1931. She also appeared in The Day the Earth Stood Still twenty years later in 1951. Aliens invaded earth in the movie and earthlings were told to live peaceably or be destroyed.

One of Bavier’s co-stars in the movie was Billy Gray best known for his portrayal of Bud on Father Knows Best.

Her first television appearance was in Racket Squad in 1952. The first show I remember her from was It’s A Great Life which co-starred James Dunn, William Bishop and Michael O’Shea.

Frances Bavier is shown at the 1:49 mark in this video from Eve Arden Show which left the air in 1958.

Two years later she would appear in her most well known role as Aunt Bee Taylor in 175 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. Bavier was in the show the entire length of its eight year run on the CBS television network that started on October 3, 1960 till April 1, 1968.

She made her last television appearance in 1970 when she appeared in 24 episodes of Mayberry R.F. D. Her last movie appearance was in 1974 when she played the lady with the cat in Benji.

When she retired in 1972 she chose to live in Siler City, North Carolina because it reminded her of Mayberry. Siler City had been mentioned in some episodes of the show.

Siler City is also known as the place where Colonel Sanders first introduced the taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1939.

She was known to be difficult during the run of the show but did apologize to Andy Griffith for being so hard to work with shortly before her death.

When she first moved to Siler City she worked with charitable causes but when fans wouldn’t let her have her privacy she withdrew and became a recluse.

The following article tells about her living with 14 cats and her estate being valued at $700,000.

She died on December 6, 1989 in her home at the age of 86 after battling cancer and heart disease.

The inscription on Frances Bavier's tombstone is very touching thought and she does still live in our hearts.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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