Aunt Bee was much nicer than the real Frances Bavier, at least according to her

In the actress' words.

CBS Television Distribution

Look, we're not throwing Frances Bavier under the bus here. We love her as much as the next gang of Andy fans. The truth, though, is that this headline was right from her mouth. The beloved actress was funny and candid in many of her interviews. One in particular includes her feelings about her famous character, and how Aunt Bee compares to her real-life counterpart.

"It's terribly difficult," said Bavier in a 1966 interview with The Tennessean, "because Aunt Bee is so much nicer than the real me."

Bavier wasn't used to spending prolonged periods in character. The actress staked her claim onstage earlier in her career. The differences between stage and screen quickly became apparent while she was on The Andy Griffith Show.

"Unlike plays in which you play a character only a couple of hours each night, you might be a television character for 12 hours per day," said Bavier. "And even when you go home people don't recognize you as you — but for the character you play. It can be awfully confusing." 

By our estimation, this is where Bavier got the idea that she wasn't as nice as Aunt Bee. Fame is cruel, and The Andy Griffith Show brought Frances Bavier unseen levels of recognizability. So, her old life was gone in an instant. Where she'd previously been able to navigate life in relative anonymity, now there was nowhere Bavier could go without being seen as Aunt Bee.

Her self-depreciation is at odds with her actions. In that same interview, Bavier goes on to contradict her earlier assessment about not being as nice as Aunt Bee. Her true nature comes out in a passage where she discusses a 12-year-old Ron Howard.

"I treat him like an adult," said Bavier. "He is an equal and I often take pointers from him on how to play a scene."

This is not only a very nice way to treat a kid, but it's also a perspective Aunt Bee would've never allowed herself. While she might not have been ready to admit it, we're sure that Frances Bavier was just as wonderful as her onscreen counterpart.

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3 Comments

Runeshaper 25 days ago
Good insight into the actress's views. Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
Irish 25 days ago
I think Frances was "old school" in many aspects. She certainly was a lady. I've seen her in many different roles, but it's true.... she'll always be Aunt Bee in my heart of hearts!❤️
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