Frances Bavier - "Aunt Bee"
January 2002: Did she have an attitude? Read the red stuff below.
We all remember her for her role in The Andy Griffith Show, and
thanks to my friends Cathy and Dave Bradford of North Carolina, we now can SEE
where she lived her final days. Here's the buzz on Bee:
The show that won her an Emmy ended in 1968, and in 1972 - Frances retired
City, North Carolina. Shed visited the town
previously during local celebrations, and fell in love with it, and bought a
house on West
During her time in Siler City she avoided fans and interviews like the
plague. This aside, she supposedly made many friends in the area, and a lot of
them called her, "Aunt Bee." Inevitably, some idiot would come and
knock on her door, looking for Sheriff Andy or some such nonsense. I dont
blame her for being a bit apprehensive, but I think she was losing her marbles.
Andy Griffith once did an interview with Ralph Emery, and the subject of
Frances came up. He said that both he and Ron Howard tried visiting her in Siler
City. Unannounced. She flipped. Later, a mutual friend of theirs called Andy,
and said that Frances wanted to talk to him. Andy called her, and she told him
that she was sorry they never got along better. She told him that she had
heart attacks and cancer. Andy said in the interview that it wasnt that they
didnt get along, it was just that she didnt always feel up to playing the
She was admitted to the Chatham
Hospital, the day before Thanksgiving, 1989. She was
kept in the coronary care unit for
two weeks, and finally discharged on Monday, December 4. She died in this
house on Wednesday, December 6. Heart
Failure. She was 86 years old.
Upon her death, whoever went in the non-curtained
house found it reeking of cat piss, which is one of
the worst smells on the planet. The plaster was peeling, the carpets frayed, and
the upholstery worn. She didnt keep a tidy home. She had 14 cats (ugh.), and
their litter box was the basement shower. Not in it, it was it.
Supposedly, Frances spent most of her time in a large back room, sparsely furnished with a bed, a desk, a television and an end table. The only mementoes
they found were a few hats and dresses that she wore on the show. In the garage
they found a blue 1966 Studebaker, with four flat tires. (This
just in from Findadeath.com friend Bill Gregory Terlecki, "Aunt Bee drove a 1964, I think that was the year, Studebaker Lark.
Way after that date, she would drive herself to the studio in it. It was pea green. This I know as fact, as I use to be in the Studebaker Packard club in Vancouver area, and the monthly magazine did an article about it.") Supposedly it was the
same car that she drove in Mayberry, RFD. Cool. The last time she used the car
was in 1983 for a trip to the grocery store. In all, her estate was worth
$700,000 (not too shabby) and her possessions were worth just under $32,000.
I have no funeral information for Frances, but I do know that she is buried
in the nearby Oakwood Cemetery. Her tombstone says "Aunt Bee" on it.
In her will, Frances bequeathed her house to the Moore Memorial Hospital, in
Pinehurst. The contents of the house went to the University of North Carolina
Center for Public Television. The cats were found homes, well, except for one
that got away.
On Saturday, June 2, 1990 there was an auction held of Francess
belongings. Fans lined up to pick over things like velvet hats and white gloves
(which Frances really wore), and even her old contracts from The Andy
Griffith Show. All in all, there were 800 items for sale. Boy, I bet
they wished that Ebay existed then. They could have made a killing.
Trivia: I once wrote Andy Griffith a fan letter, and this
was my response.
Thanks again, Cathy and Dave. You guys are just tits!
Findadeath.com friend Kay sent in this piece of
trivia: Aunt Bee--Frances--whatever....(great story, BTW)...in light of her...eccentricities, shall we say, it is perhaps surprising that she filmed her last movie, Benji (yes, the dog story), in the Dallas, TX area in 1974...she played the old lady whose cat Benji chased every day..
Trivia from Findadeath.com friend Jim: I was told that Howard Morris (Ernest T.
Bass) couldn't abide Frances Bavier. Their feud supposedly came to a head during an episode he was directing.
Morris was placing actors on the set. He said:
"Frances? I'd like to move you over here." Frances was sensitive about her considerable girth, and real or imagined slights. She turned on Morris and snarled, "Nobody will `move' me!!!! I am not a sofa! I am not a dining room table!! How dare you?!!!!!"
She did this in front of cast and crew. Morris told my friend it was all he could do to hold himself back from slugging her in the jaw.
Check out this great website about The Andy Griffith Show, HERE.