Frances Bavier almost left Mayberry when Andy did
Aunt Bee nearly quit before her spin-off!
All good things must come to an end. So, with The Andy Griffith Show in its eighth season, Griffith himself made preparations to exit the show. Slowly, his character, Andy Taylor was phased out of storylines, taking a back seat to Ken Berry's widower farmer Sam Jones. Sherriff Taylor was to move on with his new bride, leaving Mayberry and its cast of supporting characters to carry on without him.
The show was to be retitled Mayberry R.F.D, as The Andy Griffith Show lost its title star. R.F.D would still feature familiar faces, with folks like Howard and Goober returning to help ease the transition. It was a new show that sought to capitalize on old successes, and those returning Mayberry citizens were central in determining whether audiences would get with the program.
Aunt Bee was set to be a focal point, but according to the actress who played her, it nearly didn't happen. Frances Bavier, however, didn't stick around because of well-written material, or because she thought the show would be a smash success. In a 1968 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, she detailed the key to keeping her on board.
"Bob Ross, the producer, said to me 'You're the backbone of the show.' But finally, it was flattery that convinced me to continue. I get more money, too, but the flattery did it.
"And I wouldn't have to touch wardrobe. It would all be picked for me, they said. Then Ken Berry himself came to me and said, 'Oh, please stay.'"
While she originally only agreed to four episodes of Mayberry R.F.D., Bavier ended up staying the course for the show's first two seasons.
"I've been acting 45 years and it's a hard habit to break," she said. "Then I read that Dr. Alvarez medical column about getting arteriosclerosis of the brain if you don't work, so here I am."