‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Here’s Why Aunt Bee Star Frances Bavier Was Not Thrilled on Set

Although she was one of the more well-known stars on “The Andy Griffith Show,” France Bavier was not thrilled to be on the set of the iconic 1960s TV sitcom.

In December 2015, Daniel de Visé, the author of “Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show,” shared some little-known backstage facts about “The Andy Griffith Show” with Biography. The author admitted that Frances Bavier wasn’t very happy that Andy Griffith wasn’t very serious on the set. He would joke, laugh, and have fun.

de Visé also stated that the actress played her part to perfection. France Bavier also became the only “The Andy Griffith Show” cast member, other than Don Knotts, to receive an Emmy for her hard work. “Onscreen, Bee’s domestic pampering provided the perfect complement to Andy’s fatherly gravitas and Barney’s childlike vulnerability. Off stage, though, she seldom joined Andy and the others in their daily antics.”

The author further revealed that Frances Bavier was also not one to dance and sing with her colleagues. She also very much disliked practical jokes and coarse language. While on the series, her relationship with Andy Griffith personally wasn’t necessarily friendly. Although the castmates did patch things up prior to her death in 1989.

de Visé went on to point out that George Lindsey recalled France Bavier once growing so distressed with his cursing during an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” spinoff “Mayberry R.F.D.” that she hit him over the head with her umbrella.

Don Knotts Actually Offered to Return to Mayberry for “The Andy Griffith Show”

Meanwhile, de Visé then spoke about Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Frances Bavier, and the rest of “The Andy Griffith Show” cast was expected to have their show for five seasons. When the show’s fifth season began production, Knotts agreed to a five-picture film deal with Universal. However, when sponsors and the network persuaded Griffith to return to the hit series for another season, Knotts did decline to reprise his role as Barney Fife. That is, in an official sense. 

However, Griffith revealed years afterward that Knotts had told his manager that he would return to the series. But only if he could have an ownership stake in the production. At the time, Griffith and his manager owned more than half of the show. Knotts did not have any stake in the series.

Although he and Knotts had a close friendship, Griffith decided to decline Knotts’ request. He thought at the time that Knotts wanted half of his share. But really, Knotts would have settled for a far less sum, according to Griffith. “But Andy and Don were friends, not deal-makers; this talk had taken both men out of their comfort zone, and it came to nothing.”

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