R.I.P. Joan Staley, co-star of Don Knotts and classic Batman villain

The former Playboy Playmate appeared on Perry Mason and 77 Sunset Strip before becoming Bob Barker's agent.

The Everett Collection

In many ways, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was a spin-off of The Andy Griffith Show. Beyond the headlining star Don Knotts, many familiar Mayberry faces appeared in the film. Hal Smith, best known as Otis Campbell, pops up as another town drunk. Mayberry elders Burt Mustin and Hope Summers both have roles in the movie, too. It may have been Knotts' first major blockbuster after leaving The Andy Griffith Show, but essentially it repurposed the plot of "The Haunted House," the hilarious Halloween episode from season four.

Knotts had a new co-star, however. Joan Staley, a onetime 1958 Playboy Playmate, portrayed the love interest of "Mr. Chicken," Alma.

She may not have come from Mayberry, but Staley was certainly recognizable to anyone who watched great television. The former child violinist grew up in Los Angeles, landing film roles as an adolescent. She appeared on Perry Mason four times between 1958 and 1962, playing four different roles.

Staley found a recurring role on 77 Sunset Strip, where she played Hannah, the secretary of Stuart Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.). Immediately following that gig, she landed a starring spot on Broadside, a military sitcom loosely spun off from McHale's Navy

Living in Memphis for a spell, Staley also had a couple of ties to Elvis Presley. She was working as a legal secretary and married to a local director. She met the King himself.

"So me and my first husband, who was a cameraman for a local television station, got to meet Elvis," Staley said in a 2016 interview with The College Crowd Digs Me blog. "It was in 1956. And we became casual friends with Elvis. We were invited to some of the celebrations at Sun Records." 

Staley would end up singing backup on some Sun Records releases.

And, she would end up on the big screen alongside Elvis himself, as a character in his 1964 movie Roustabout.

Staley as Okie Annie on 'Batman'

Following her two major cinematic roles, Staley had another notable job on the small screen. In the fall of 1966, she became the Batman villain Okie Annie, sidekick to the wicked cowboy Shame. In one memorable scene, Okie Annie helps Bruce Wayne buy lingerie for Aunt Harriet.

Staley did not have many screen appearances following that, a handful including Adam-12. Instead, she worked behind the camera, forming a talent agency with her second husband, Dale Sheets. The two ran International Ventures Inc. and represented clients as diverse as Bob Barker and Mel Tormé.

On November 24, Staley died due to heart failure, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 79.

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dth1971 54 months ago
How was she connected to Bob Barker, 1972-2007 The Price is Right host?
texasluva dth1971 54 months ago
A Secret Agent Woman.
Mirramanee dth1971 52 months ago
If you read the last line of the second to last paragraph in the article, it says her talent agency represented Bob Barker, among others.
WF 54 months ago
I loved her as Seaman First Class Roberta Love in "Broadside". It was one of my favorite shows that year, when I was in 6th Grade (that show was gone too soon too); she made me appreciate blondes! I haven't checked on this, but I recall she mostly stopped acting after a horseback riding accident at some point (maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but I don't think I'm confusing her with Kathleen Nolan (also from "Broadside"), who had a horse-related accident).
JosephWilliams 54 months ago
Only saw her in Batman, as Shame's sidekick!
harlow1313 54 months ago
Knowing Luther Heggs spent his honeymoon with Alma Parker, all I can say is, "Attaboy, Luther!"
Jeremy 54 months ago
I can't believe it! She's one of those people I wished wouldn't go too soon. Aw, well!
cperrynaples 54 months ago
I'm sure Staley was a beauty and a great actress, but honesty the math doesn't add up for me! According to the obit, she was married at 16 and posed for Playboy at 18! Clearly, her agent shaved off a few years and she was proably in her 80's when she died!
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