The Mayor of Mayberry was also the first to play both Chester on Gunsmoke and Eb on Green Acres

It takes talent to play a deputy, a mayor, a farmhand and an elf.

CBS Television Distribution

Parley Baer started his professional career training animals at Jungleland USA. No wonder the animals listened to him. The fellow had a distinctive, commanding voice. His vocal talents would pay off in bigger ways once he moved from amusement parks to showbiz. You can find him all over classic television playing authoritative types, from city commissioner Arthur J. Henson on The Addams Family to Mayor Roy Stoner on The Andy Griffith Show.

Before becoming a familiar face on the boob tube, Baer landed a few landmark roles on radio. The 1950 radio program Granby's Green Acres was indeed a predecessor to the popular '60s sitcom. Gale Gordon (The Lucy Show) and Bea Benaderet (Petticoat Junction) portrayed the married city slickers who give farming a go. Though, they were named Granby not Douglas, obviously.

The leads might have had different names, but one character carried over to the TV adaptation — Eb, the farmhand. Baer voiced that comedic country bumpkin. To boot, in the first episode, Howard McNear portrayed Mr. Kimball. McNear and Baer were frequent colleagues, not to mention lifelong friends. You know McNear best as Floyd the Barber in Mayberry. The two started out together in Dodge City.

In 1952, both McNear and Baer joined the cast of a new Western program dubbed Gunsmoke. This earlier radio version featured the same familiar characters. McNear voiced Doc Adams. Baer pioneered the role of Chester, later played by Dennis Weaver. He even came up with the character's original full name, Chester Wesley Proudfoot, reportedly off the top of his head in an ad-lib. (The name was later changed to Goode.)

When McNear passed away in 1969, Baer performed the eulogy at the funeral.

Baer himself lived another three-plus decades. In that time, he worked another notable voice-over gig that is familiar to millions. Baer was Ernie Keebler, a.k.a. the Keebler Elf. Yep, one man could play Dodge City deputy, Mayberry mayor, Green Acres farmhand and baker of delicious cookies. Now that's talent.

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28 Comments

Sooner 1 month ago
Does anyone know if he has a son who is a fairly well-known scientist? They are spitting images of each other, literally.
Avie 1 month ago
I attended the wedding of friends and made the acquaintance of Baer, who was an elder in their church. Lovely man.
Wiseguy70005 1 month ago
Parley Baer didn't live another three plus decades, he live another three decades plus. There's a difference.
LoveMETV22 Wiseguy70005 1 month ago
"He lived." Check your own grammar before correcting others.
TheKodakKid 1 month ago
Baer and McNear were Old Time Radio GREATS. They turned up all over the place. Usually in guest roles. It wasn’t too unusual to find them guesting on the same show, at the same time. Not too uncommon for radio, either might show up as a couple of different characters within an episode.

Bear turned up so regularly on some shows, that he could almost be considered a co-star. Except that he was usually a different character each time. You could frequently be heard as a lawman on “Tales of the Texas Rangers.” You never knew who he was going to be on “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.” One memorable set of episodes had him sporting an accent to play a character from Central America. McNear did a considerable amount of work on “Johnny Dollar” as well.

Baer was the second Mayor of Mayberry. Because of health reasons, McNear was nearing the end of his run as Floyd. The two old friends only appeared in three episodes together. I’m sure it was a disappointment for both of them. I’m also thinking about all the great stories that the cast missed out on, from these two not able to trade stories between takes.
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
I have an eternal, involuntary reaction..."PAR-bay!!"
(There is no cure, but there IS hope.)
JamesB 1 month ago
Parley Baer was memorably wicked in the classic Noir “ Pickup on South Street” from 1953 starring Jean Peters and Richard Widmark.
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Hey MeTV show some love for Terry Carter who died this week at 95! He was on both McCloud & Battlestar Galatica! Fun Fact: In 1974, he appeared in both Foxy Brown & Benji! Quite a range!
coffinman 1 month ago
Let's not forget his performance in the cult-classc, "Two on a Guillotine."
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Yes indeed. That sounds like talent.
WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
I had no idea Green Acres was a radio show. I'd love to take a listen. While not a reflection of Baer's acting ability, I didn't care for the Mayor Stoner character.
justjeff WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
The Green Acres DVD set contains the only surviving episodes of Granby's Green Acres - which I believe is six. You'll probably find them on either YouTube or the Internet Archive... or on one of the specialty sites dedicated to old time radio...
WordsmithWorks justjeff 1 month ago
I'll check it out. Thanks for the advice.
justjeff WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
You're more than welcome...
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Baer was a super talented fella! It's neat that he and McNear were friends. Thanks for sharing, MeTV (-:
KawiVulc 1 month ago
He guested on Father Knows Best as an odd character with a thing for trolleys who turns up as a friend of a friend at the Anderson's on Kathy's birthday and misses every hint that it's time for him to leave. By the time the family gets to the circus they'd planned to attend it's sold out but as it turns out the odd character with a thing for trolleys is the circus' road manager. Happy to see them again, he provides ring side seats and all ends well. Memorable episode, perfect guest casting.
Xsquid 26 months ago
Saw him several days ago on wagon train.
art 57 months ago
He also was in the film "Last of the Dogmen" as the retired railroadman, retelling the capture of the little indian boy who turned out to be the old chief of the tribe.
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