Andy changed Aunt Bee's name at the very first rehearsal of The Andy Griffith Show
The TV star stopped writers just in time from calling Aunt Bee by the wrong name.
"Oh come on now, Aunt Bee," Sheriff Andy teases the woman who raised him. He's prying about a man in town who has asked Aunt Bee on a date — or so Andy has heard through the grapevine. "Can't expect to keep a flaming romance like that secret for long!"
When you read the words "Aunt Bee," if you're a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, you know it's pronounced like "Ant Bee" and not like "Ont Bee."
For Andy Griffith, it made a big difference how you pronounce the word "Aunt," because, for people who grew up in the South like him, it's always "ant" and never "ont" or "auntie."
That's why the classic TV star put his foot down when the writers of The Andy Griffith Show originally introduced the character in "The New Housekeeper" as "Auntie Bee."
"I told them at first rehearsal, no one's called Auntie anything," Griffith told The Miami Herald-Sun in 1960. "It's Aunt." Pronounced "Ant," of course.
There was no way to contradict their star on this one. Griffith said they changed the name right there on the spot during that first rehearsal.
He said insisting on changes like this was one way he helped the show maintain its authentic Southern roots.
"Things like that you wouldn't know, 'less you lived down there," Andy said.
Today in the United States, most folks seem to agree with Andy's pronunciation of "Ant" for Aunt Bee, with a somewhat recent map from a Dialect Survey about 10 years ago showing that 75% of the country uses that pronunciation.
One blogger posted in 2009 about having "Auntie anxiety" when trying to decide how to pronounce the word. They traced the regional roots of saying "ont" in parts of the U.S. like the Northeast, which maintained closer ties to England, where saying "ont" and "auntie" are common.
Pretty much everyone else in the country left the Brits behind to march ahead with "Ant" instead.
Another creative way that people say the word "Aunt" bends the vowels to sound like "ain't."
Some people surveyed claim they pronounce the word like "ont" when it’s being used alone, but when saying the word with a name or title, like "Aunt Bee," they revert to Andy's pronunciation of "ant."
How do you say the word Aunt in your family? Would you have been OK with Sheriff Andy having an "Auntie Bee" instead of "Aunt Bee"?