A Carolina accent got Elizabeth MacRae cast as Gomer Pyle's girlfriend

Would Lou-Ann Poovie be the same without her twang?

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Gomer Pyle sings a song for Lou-Ann Poovie
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You have to hand it to whoever came up with character names for The Andy Griffith Show and its spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. The world of Mayberry and Camp Henderson was populated by the likes of Gomer, Goober, Opie, Asa, Duke, Rafe, Briscoe, Bunny and Bee. But was there truly a cuter character name than Lou-Ann Poovie? 

Making her debut in the season-three episode "Love's Old Sweet Song," nightclub singer Lou-Ann Poovie would go on to become Gomer's girlfriend. She made the ideal sweetheart for the gas-pumper turned grunt. Her Southern charm and accent kept Gomer from feeling too homesick while stationed way out in California.

Elizabeth MacRae was perfectly suited for the part. Not only did she grow up in North Carolina, but she was also raised in Fort Bragg. MacRae also had experience playing a main squeeze with a twang. Over the span of a few seasons, in a handful of episodes, she had portrayed the girlfriend of Festus, April, on Gunsmoke. It's hard to imagine a better Lou-Ann.

MacRae on the Gunsmoke set filming MacRae on the Gunsmoke set filming

Yet, at her audition for Gomer Pyle, MacRae not only tried out for a different role — she hid her Carolina accent. And Lou-Ann Poovie would not have hardly existed if not for a chance encounter at the studio.

"I went to read for another part and I was trying not to have a Southern accent," MacRae confessed to her hometown newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer, in 2017.

MacRae was reading lines with series creator and producer Aaron Ruben when Lee Phillips happened to pass by. Phillips, a Peyton Place actor who happened to direct 60 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, also had North Carolina roots, according to MacRae.

Phillips popped his head in the office and declared, "My Lord, that’s my favorite Southern belle!" The remark took Ruben by surprise, as she had not been disguising her natural voice.

Ruben asked, "Can you speak with a Southern accent?"


"He hired me on the spot," MacRae recalled. "And that was the birth of Lou-Ann Poovie. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal. I did 15 episodes."

Good thing Phillips stopped to say hello! Otherwise, Gomer might have been a little lonelier.

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DrJayJack 57 months ago
I hope she could really sing because as LouAnn Poovie she couldn't sing at all.
Greg 58 months ago
She is a doll I've always enjoy watching her in everything she was in!
Not like other people I enjoyed those good old shows when tv left you
with a good feeling! The tv today has stuff that on that would never be
on in the good old days! That's why things are so crazy anymore morals
are not taught to kids these days! And America is going to hell in a hurry!
Sooner 58 months ago
She's a cutie. And it's too bad that for her and most of hollywood, you have to play the love interest of someone who is actually a homosexual.
ELEANOR 58 months ago
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING -- It was a chance encounter with Lee Phillips (who revealed her southern roots) that got her the part.
ELEANOR 58 months ago
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Deleted 58 months ago
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58 months ago
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SheriHeffner 58 months ago
I always thought she was putting on that accent. She was a good actress. Is she still alive?
MaryMitch SheriHeffner 58 months ago
I thought it was put on too! Maybe she purposely thickened it?

And according to Wikipedia, she's still alive at 83.
MaryMitch 58 months ago
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