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Frances in 1964.
|Born||Frances Elizabeth Bavier
December 14, 1902
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 6, 1989
Siler City, North Carolina, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Oakwood Cemetery|
|Other names||Hazel Howard|
|Alma mater||Columbia University
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
|Known for||The Andy Griffith Show
Frances Elizabeth Bavier (December 14, 1902 – December 6, 1989) was an American stage and television actress. Originally from New York theatre, Bavier worked in film and television from the 1950s. She is best known for her role of Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. from 1960 to 1970. Aunt Bee logged more Mayberry years (ten) than any other character. Bavier won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress for the role in 1967.
Early life and career
Born in New York City in a brownstone on Gramercy Park to Charles S., a stationary engineer, and Mary S. (neé Bermingham) Bavier, Frances originally planned to become a teacher after attending Columbia University. She first appeared in vaudeville, later moving to the Broadway stage. After graduating from American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1925, she found herself cast in the stage comedy The Poor Nut. Bavier's big break came in the original Broadway production of On Borrowed Time. She later appeared with Henry Fonda in the play Point of No Return.
Bavier had roles in more than a dozen films, as well as playing a range of supporting roles on television. Career highlights include her turn as Mrs. Barley in the classic 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. In 1955 she played an early auntie role as Aunt Maggie Sawtelle, a frontier Ma Barker-type character in the Lone Ranger episode "Sawtelle's Saga End." In the episode, she fights with Tonto while the Lone Ranger fought with her nephew. At the conclusion, Tonto says that he'd like to trade opponents next time. In 1957 she played Nora Martin, mother to Eve Arden, in the series The Eve Arden Show. That year she guest starred in the eighth episode of Perry Mason as Louise Marlow in "The Case of the Crimson Kiss".
She was in an episode of Make Room for Daddy, which featured Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor and Ron Howard as Opie Taylor. She played a character named Henrietta Perkins. The episode became The Andy Griffith Show and Bavier was cast in the new role of Aunt Bee. Bavier had a love-hate relationship with her most famous role, Aunt Bee, during the run of the show. As a New York actress, she felt her dramatic talents were being overlooked. At the same time, she played Aunt Bee for eight seasons and was the only original cast member to remain with the series in the spin-off, Mayberry R.F.D., staying two additional seasons. In contrast to her affable character, Aunt Bee, Bavier was easily offended and the production staff took a very cautious approach when dealing with her.. Series star Andy Griffith admitted that the two sometimes clashed during the series' run.
In an April 24, 1998 appearance on Larry King Live, Griffith stated that Bavier had phoned him four months before she died, and said she was deeply sorry for being "difficult" during the series' run.
In 1972, Bavier retired from acting and bought a home in Siler City, North Carolina. On choosing to live in North Carolina instead of her native New York, Bavier said that, "I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees." She briefly returned to acting in 1974 in the family film Benji. Bavier never married or had children. Somewhat awkward in one-on-one relationships, she was nonetheless altruistic at heart. According to a 1981 article by Chip Womick, a staff writer of The Courier Tribune, Bavier enthusiastically promoted Christmas and Easter Seal Societies from her Siler City home, and often wrote inspirational letters to fans who sought autographs. Overly zealous fans, however, often invaded both her property and privacy and Bavier became reclusive.
Frances Bavier had been a fan of Studebaker cars since the thirties. In Mayberry R.F.D., she drove her own 1966 Daytona two-door Sports Sedan (which was the last model of the South Bend factory, though produced in Canada from 1964 to 1966). She kept this car in perfect condition while alive and refused to purchase a new car when her driver suggested it. As her health failed, it sat idle in her garage and was found with four flat tires, and a ruined interior from her many cats. It was auctioned for $20,000 one year after her death in the same condition as it was found. The new owners felt if it were restored it would no longer be Aunt Bee's Studebaker. She was also a member of the Studebaker Drivers Club.
On November 22, 1989, Bavier was admitted to Chatham Hospital. She suffered from both heart disease and cancer and was kept in the coronary care unit for two weeks. She was discharged on December 4, 1989, and died at her home two days later on December 6 of a heart attack, at age 86, 8 days before her 87th birthday. Upon her death, whoever went in the non-curtained house found it reeking of cats. The plaster was peeling, the carpets frayed, and the upholstery worn. She had 14 cats, and their litter box was the basement shower.
|1931||Girls About Town||Joy|
|1951||The Day the Earth Stood Still||Mrs. Barley|
|1952||The Lady Says No||Aunt Alice Hatch|
|1952||Bend of the River||Mrs. Prentiss||Alternative title: Where the River Bends|
|1952||Sally and Saint Anne||Mrs. Kitty "Mom" O'Moyne|
|1952||My Wife's Best Friend||Mrs. Chamberlain|
|1952||Horizons West||Martha Hammond|
|1952||Stooge, TheThe Stooge||Mrs. Rogers|
|1953||Man in the Attic||Helen Harley|
|1956||Bad Seed, TheThe Bad Seed||Woman in dinner party scene||Uncredited|
|1958||A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed||Mrs. Solitaire||Alternative title: How to Rob a Bank|
|1959||It Started with a Kiss||Mrs. Tappe|
|1974||Benji||Lady with cat|
|1952||Racket Squad||Martha Carver||1 episode|
|Gruen Guild Playhouse||Sarah Cummings||2 episodes|
|1953||Hallmark Hall of Fame||Lou Bloor||1 episode|
|City Detective||Various roles||3 episodes|
|Letter to Loretta||Various roles||3 episodes|
|Dragnet||Hazel Howard||3 episodes|
|1954||Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, TheThe Pepsi-Cola Playhouse||Thelma||2 episodes|
|It's a Great Life||Mrs. Amy Morgan||62 episodes|
|1955||Lone RangerThe Lone Ranger||Aunt Maggie Sawtelle||1 episode|
|1955||Soldiers of Fortune||Amelia Lilly||1 episode|
|1955||Damon Runyon Theater||1 episode|
|1955||Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Revenge||Mrs. Fergusen||1 episode|
|1956||Lux Video Theatre||1 episode|
|1956||Cavalcade of America||Mrs. Hayes||1 episode|
|1957||Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre||1 episode|
|1957||General Electric Theater||Miss Trimingham||1 episode|
|1957||Perry Mason||Louise Marlow||1 episode|
|Eve Arden Show, TheThe Eve Arden Show||Mrs. Nora Martin||5 episodes|
|1958||Colgate Theatre||1 episode|
|1959||Ann Sothern Show, TheThe Ann Sothern Show||Mrs. Wallace||1 episode|
|1959||Thin Man, TheThe Thin Man||1 episode|
|1959||Sugarfoot||Aunt Nancy Thomas||1 episode|
|1959||Wagon Train||Sister Joseph||1 episode|
|1959||77 Sunset Strip||Grandma Fenwick||1 episode|
|1960||Danny Thomas Show, TheThe Danny Thomas Show||Henrietta Perkins||1 episode|
|1960||Rawhide||Ellen Ferguson||1 episode|
|Andy Griffith Show, TheThe Andy Griffith Show||Aunt Beatrice "Bee" Taylor||175 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Comedy Series (1967)
|1967||Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.||Aunt Bee Taylor||1 episode|
|Mayberry R.F.D.||Aunt Bee Taylor||24 episodes|
- "Childhood Jealousy Leads Frances Bavier to Stage". The Ogden Standard-Examiner: 13. June 26, 1936.
- "Frances Bavier Dead; TV Performer Was 86". The New York Times. 1989-12-08. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Carp, Randy (12 March 2013). "Aunt Bee: Sex Symbol and Diva?". Fans Pages. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- Kelly, Richard Michael (1985). The Andy Griffith Show. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-89587-043-6.
- Kelly, Richard Michael (1985). The Andy Griffith Show. p. 14. ISBN 0-89587-043-6.
- Hoffman, James L.; Grizzle, Ralph (2007). Day Trips From Raleigh-Durham. Globe Pequot. pp. 184, 186. ISBN 0-7627-4543-6.