Elizabeth MacRae had to ''relearn'' her Southern accent to play Lou-Ann Poovie
The well-educated performer utilized method acting to play Gomer's girlfriend.
The summer of 1967 was called by some "The Summer of Love," but for the cast of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., it was time for a work field trip. In the late days of summer, Jim Nabors and company crossed the country to Washington, D.C., to film a few episodes of the military sitcom for its fourth season. It was the first time the show shot outside of California. The special occasion also called for a musical number — Jim Nabors belting out "The Impossible Dream."
The fourth season was a big one for the Andy Griffith Show spin-off. That year, Elizabeth MacRae saw her role upgraded on the series. "Lou-Ann… has escalated to recurring appearances as Gomer's girlfriend," an article in the Press and Sun-Bulletin wrote.
MacRae had previously appeared three times on Gomer Pyle, but now she would be a more permanent presence. So much so that MacRae was the one being profiled in newspapers to promote the fourth season. The reporter sat down with the actress to discuss her blossoming career, and she shared some interesting details about her rise to fame.
The writer explains that MacRaw was "born in North Carolina, where the MacRaes have been fixtures for generations." In other words, she came from money. She attended board school out of state. After graduating, she asked her father for funds so she could pursue her dream in New York. Speaking of cash:
"Daddy gave me $100 and told me to come home when it was gone," she said. "But I got a job modeling within a week and started studying drama and speech to lose my Southern accent." For her first television role, she landed a role on the anthology series Rendezvous in 1959. She was flown to London for the part. "Rolls-Royces, elegant hotels — they threw in the works," she gushed. "I stayed two months and loved it."
The fancy schooling and first-class world travel worked. Perhaps too well. MacRae lost her accent — and had to gain it back for Gomer!
"I've had to learn my Southern accent all over again," she confessed to the paper.
It may have been lighthearted comedy, but Gomer Pyle relied on her academic acting training. She explained that she utilized the Stanislavski approach to acting, the foundations of "method acting" — you know, like Marlon Brando — "right down to Lou-Ann Poovie's fluttering hands and wide baby-blue-eyed stare."
Who says Gomer Pyle isn't high art?