At the age of 84, Mayberry regular Burt Mustin made his singing debut with Elvis and a mop
If only his classmates had been around to see it.
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In 1968, Burt Mustin flew to his hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania, for his 65th college reunion. He had a lot to brag about. He technically "retired" and moved away from the Pittsburgh area two decades earlier, but that is when his career truly took off. After being discovered in Arizona, Mustin became an in-demand character actor. He would land recurring roles on two beloved sitcoms, as Gus the fireman on Leave It to Beaver and Jud on The Andy Griffith Show. And these were just two of his roles. Before he hopped on the plane in California, he had just completed work on his 283rd television show.
If only the Pennsylvania Military College Class of 1903 could see him now. Unfortunately, Mustin was the only surviving member of his graduating class.
He was sad to discover he was the only living '03 grad, but he took it in stride. "I've made many friends with other graduates, and it's good to see them," he told the local paper, The Delaware County Daily Times.
Movies and television kept Mustin spry. "I'll never get rich," he admitted to The Pittsburgh Post Gazette upon his reunion, "but every bit of it is a bonus."
Even at his old age, Mustin continued to surprise the people in Hollywood. Even Elvis Presley.
Mustin had recently wrapped on Speedway, a 1968 Elvis flick with Nancy Sinatra. Late in the film, Elvis and Sinatra have a lover's spat in a coffee shop at closing time. Naturally, the lovebirds make up, as Elvis coos a song to his gal. Mustin is the old-timer manning the counter and cleaning up the café.
But the scene needed something else — a funny beat at the end. Someone suggested having Mustin sing. To a mop.
Nobody at the studio had any notion that Mustin could sing. Little did they know, Mustin had spent decades singing in barbershop quartets back when he was a car salesman in Pittsburgh.
"They were so happy they had found an oldtimer who could sing," Mustin told the Daily Times.
Mustin joked to Elvis that he could leave the set for the mop serenade.
"Not on your life," Elvis told Mustin. "I want to see what my competition is going to be."
Mustin easily cruised through his eight bars, nailed singing in the same key as the King. Mustin had been a baritone in barbershop competition for years. Easy peasy.
Even at the age of 84, the actor had plenty of life and work left in him. That same year he appeared in a wonderful episode of Dragnet, playing a deceptively able cat burglar in "The Senior Citizen," and turned up in one of the funniest (yes, funniest) episodes of Gunsmoke, as the title role in "Uncle Finney."
In the Seventies, he stole scenes on All in the Family, and even, at least, got a starring role on a sitcom of his own, The Funny Side. Who says life ends at "retirement"?