Joanna Moore lost her hearing before becoming Andy's girlfriend on The Andy Griffith Show
The actress found a cure for her deafness just as she turned up in Mayberry.
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On the totem of Andy Taylor's girlfriends, Peggy McMillan often goes overlooked. The sheriff ended up marrying Helen Crump, Opie's teacher, so she obviously is best remembered. Ellie Walker first won Andy's heart, as the two dated in the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. Peggy, a blonde with a soft Southern accent, saw her relationship with Andy last just four episodes — but they were four memorable episodes.
Introduced in "Andy's Rich Girlfriend," Peggy comes from a wealthy family, as evidenced by the gorgeous new Ford Thunderbird sitting outside her cozy house. It was a gift from daddy. A couple months later, Peggy made her final appearance in "Opie's Rival." Opie was just a little too jealous of all the time pa was spending with the pretty nurse.
Joanna Moore fondly recalled her time portraying Peggy McMillan.
"I liked the Griffith show better than anything else I’ve ever done," she told the Akron Beacon Journal in a late 1962 interview. "Everyone on the program is so nice. The show is well organized and there is no rush. The people discuss their problems openly and the difficulties just seem to disappear. I was shocked by the honesty on that show, but it was a refreshing kind of honesty."
Perhaps best known as the wife of Ryan O'Neal, whom she married in 1963, Moore grew up in Georgia, which explained her natural drawl that fit right in on The Andy Griffith Show. But the actress went through quite an ordeal before her time in Mayberry. In a guest role on Route 66, a gash on her leg gave Moore a six-inch scar, as she got caught on a submerged rock while filming a scene in the Pacific Ocean.
But that was hardly as harrowing as her hearing loss. She had recently been deaf.
Moore continued to work throughout the 1961-62 television season despite her hearing loss. "She couldn't hear a phone ring and a radio turned up full blast sounded like a distant, blurred noise," wrote the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram in July 1962. Moore would have a director tap her on the shoulder when a scene began and read lips to get through her dialogue.
“It was hereditary deafness and I didn’t realize what was happening until I lost my hearing completely," she explained. The condition is known as otosclerosis, a bone growth in the middle ear.
A surgery corrected her hearing loss in the summer of '62. After the procedure, Moore left the hospital into a busy street. A passing truck honked at her. "I was thrilled," she recalled.
With her full senses returned, Moore was ready to court Andy Taylor.
The following year, Moore turned up on Perry Mason as Grace Olney in "The Case of the Reluctant Model." She went on to land roles in everything from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to My Three Sons. In 1997, Moore passed away from lung cancer, with her daughter, Tatum O'Neal, at her side.