Elinor "Ellie" Walker
|Elinor "Ellie" Walker|
Ellie Walker in "The Christmas Story", (1960)
|First appearance||"Ellie Comes to Town", (October 24, 1960)|
|Last appearance||"The Guitar Player Returns", (May 15, 1961)|
|Created by||Sheldon Leonard|
|Portrayed by||Elinor Donahue|
|Family||Fred Walker, uncle|
Elinor "Ellie" Walker is a fictional character in the American television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. She is notable for being Andy Taylor's first regular girlfriend seen on the show. Ellie makes 12 appearances in the first season. Despite the paucity of her appearances, she was intended as a series regular. Unlike girlfriends that would follow, her portrayer, Elinor Donahue, is given opening credit billing, alongside Andy Griffith.
Elinor Donahue was an established television star and had just finished her tour of duty as Betty "Princess" Anderson in the popular 1950s sitcom, Father Knows Best when she joined The Andy Griffith Show. Producers believed her name would have "drawing power" and gave her top billing in the opening credits with stars Andy Griffith, Ron Howard and Don Knotts. The only other performer to receive top billing during the course of the series' run was Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee) who began to appear in the opening credits in the 1965-1966 season after Don Knotts left the series.
Donahue's wardrobe in the show was created by Mr. Burt of Encino, who received a nod in the closing credits. Donahue was dining out with her mother and three-year-old son when Mr. Burt approached her table and offered to provide the wardrobe. She approved Mr. Burt's designs and brought him to the show.
Ellie is a graduate of Bernard University and is a pharmacist. She takes up residence in Mayberry to assist her uncle, Fred Walker, at his pharmacy. Opie becomes Ellie's first friend in Mayberry when the two playfully make faces at each other through the glass window of the pharmacy's front door. Ellie is an intelligent woman with a good deal of spunkiness and a strong sense of fair play.
Ellie and Andy
After a short and somewhat turbulent getting acquainted period, Ellie and Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor date and become steadies. In the episode "Cyrano Andy", Ellie and Andy are instrumental in bringing Andy's deputy Barney Fife and Mayberry townswoman, Thelma Lou together as romantic partners. The two couples often double date.
In her first appearance, "Ellie Comes to Town", Ellie refuses to dispense pills to Emma Brand without a prescription. Emma is unable to offer a prescription and black lists Ellie. Unknown to Ellie, her uncle regularly placated Emma with sugar pills. When Ellie discovers the ploy, she gives Emma the pills she demands. Emma then accepts Ellie into her good graces.
In a later episode, Ellie runs for town council and faces stiff resistance from the menfolk of Mayberry who cannot abide the idea of a woman holding a man's position. With a good word or two from Andy however, the men change their minds and Ellie is elected. In another episode, Ellie introduces a muddy looking farmer's daughter to makeup, perfume, hairdos, and attractive dresses. In the only Christmas episode in the show's run, Ellie and Andy sing "Away in a Manger" with guitar accompaniment.
After twelve appearances in the first season, Ellie disappeared with no explanation offered the audience. It has long been rumored, however, that Ellie abandoned her Uncle's pharmacy and Andy Taylor to run away with Jim Lindsey and become a groupie of Bobby Fleet and his Band with a Beat. The last appearance of Ellie Walker strangely coincided with the episode where Jim Lindsey returned to Mayberry after becoming a famous guitarist with Bobby Fleet's band. At the end of "The Guitar Player Returns" (15 May 1961), Jim Lindsey reunites with Bobby Fleet to tour with his band, and neither Ellie, nor Jim, is ever seen again. Of course, the good people of Mayberry would never speak about such a scandal, and thus no explanation could be offered for Ellie's sudden departure. Over the years Donahue offered multiple explanations for her departure from the show. In one she believed that she and Griffith lacked the chemistry to make their on-screen romantic relationship credible and she decided to leave. Griffith later admitted that it was his own fault because he had a hard time showing affection on-screen, and as a result, the relationship didn't appear real or believable. However, Griffith's character showed no such problems with the arrival of the Helen Crump character in the 1964 season. A more credible story that Donahue relayed was that she was undergoing personal problems during her year on the show and simply lacked confidence in the quality of her performance. She asked the producers to release her from her contract, which they did. Donahue also admitted that she was a little hurt that they agreed so readily.
- Ellie Comes to Town (24 October 1960)
- Irresistible Andy (31 October 1960)
- Andy the Matchmaker (14 November 1960)
- Ellie for Council (12 December 1960)
- Christmas Story (19 December 1960)
- The Horse Trader (9 January 1961)
- The Beauty Contest (23 January 1961)
- Mayberry on Record (13 February 1961)
- Cyrano Andy (6 March 1961)
- The New Doctor (27 March 1961)
- Ellie Saves a Female (17 April 1961)
- The Guitar Player Returns (15 May 1961)
- Donahue, E. In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue, 1998. (ISBN 1-88895-292-X)