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Frances Bavier 1902-1989

Country : New York City
Profession : Actress
Date of birth : 1902-12-14
Date of death : 1989-12-06
Cause of Death : Heart Failure

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Frances Bavier (December 14, 1902 – December 6, 1989) was an American actress. Originally from the New York theater, Bavier worked in film and television from the 1950s. She played the continuing role of Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. from 1960 to 1970, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress for the role in 1967.

Bavier retired to Siler City, North Carolina in 1973, and her acting work and public appearances decreased. She was being treated for cancer when she died from a heart attack in 1989.


In addition to her years in Mayberry, Bavier performed on Broadway and in more than a dozen films, as well playing a range of supporting roles on television. Career highlights include the play Point of No Return, alongside Henry Fonda, and her turn as Mrs. Barley in the classic 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still. In the mid-1950s, she appeared three times on Rod Cameron's syndicated crime drama City Detective.

Bavier had a love-hate relationship with her most famous role, Aunt Bee. As a New York actress, she felt her dramatic talents were being overlooked. At the same time, she played Aunt Bee for ten seasons, longer than any other Mayberry character. Bavier was so adept at conveying the essence of Aunt Bee's personality that audiences either didn't notice or didn't care that she made no attempt to speak with a southern accent or inflection. Her career illustrates the paradox facing many strongly "typed" performers. Audiences took at face value her portrayal of a warm, nurturing matron, but co-workers and others who interacted with her reportedly often found her uneasy and hypersensitive. Bavier and Andy Griffith did not get along well on the set. Andy Griffith had addressed the fact that the two sometimes clashed during The Andy Griffith Show's run. The actress was easily slighted, and the production staff would often appease her by "walking on eggshells". According to Griffith (Larry King Live, April 24, 1998) Bavier phoned him four months before she died, and said she was deeply sorry for being "difficult" during the series' run. Her medical condition prevented her from taking part in the 1986 television movie, Return to Mayberry.

Later years

In 1972, Bavier, bought a home in Siler City, North Carolina, site unseen, and retired from acting. On choosing to live in North Carolina instead of her native New York, Bavier stated in an interview 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. While the actress seemed awkward in one-on-one relationships, she seemed to be charitable to the needs of organizations and fans. 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 the actress chose to become reclusive.


On November 29, 1989 (the day before Thanksgiving), Bavier was admitted to Chatham Hospital. She was suffering 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 of a heart attack.

Bavier was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Siler City. Her headstone is emblazoned with the name of her most famous role, "Aunt Bee" and reads, "To live in the hearts of those left behind, is not to die".

Bavier's will bequeathed her home to the Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and some contents of the home went to the University of North Carolina Center for Public Television. On June 20, 1990, Bavier's belongings were auctioned off, including her wardrobe from The Andy Griffith Show and a 1966 Studebaker, which Bavier had driven until 1983. After her death, it was found in her garage, sitting on four flat tires, its interior having been ruined by her many cats. Despite its deterioration, two Andy Griffith fans bought it for US$20,000 at the auction.


  • Girls About Town (1931)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • The Lady Says No (1952)
  • Bend of the River (1952)
  • Sally and Saint Anne
  • Racket Squad (1952)
  • My Wife's Best Friend (1952)
  • Horizons West (1952)
  • The Stooge (1952)
  • Hallmark Hall of Fame (1953)
  • Man in the Attic (1953)
  • City Detective (1953-1954)
  • Waterfront (1954)
  • Letter To Loretta aka The Loretta Young Show (1953-1954)
  • The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1954)
  • The Lone Ranger (1955)
  • Soldiers of Fortune (1955)
  • Damon Runyon Theater (1955)
  • Dragnet aka Badge 714 (1953-1955)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955)
  • It's a Great Life (1954-1956)
  • Lux Video Theatre (1956)
  • The Bad Seed (1956)
  • Cavalcade of America (1956)
  • Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1957)
  • General Electric Theater (1957)
  • The Eve Arden Show (1957)
  • The Jack Benny Program (1957)
  • Perry Mason (1957)
  • Colgate Theater (1958)
  • A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed aka How to Rob a Bank (1958)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • The Ann Sothern Show (1959)
  • The Thin Man (1959)
  • Wagon Train (1959)
  • 77 Sunset Strip (1959)
  • It Started with a Kiss (1959)
  • Make Room For Daddy (1960)
  • Rawhide (1960)
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1967)
  • The Andy Griffith Show aka Andy of Mayberry (1960-1968)
  • Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1970)
  • Benji (1974)



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