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.
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.