This is supposedly a picture of young Aunt Bee on Andy's wall — but is it?

Could this Mayberry artwork be a piece of Frances Bavier's past?

Read to Me

One of the benefits of HD television is seeing familiar favorites in a new level of detail. It's like how you might have played Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band dozens of times, but then you listen to it with quality headphones and notice the champagne cork popping after Paul McCartney sings "over dinner" in the second verse of "Lovely Rita." Huh, you realize. Never heard that before!

Considering the many quirky characters in Mayberry and rubbery facial expressions of Don Knotts, you are forgiven if you have not paid close attention to the walls in The Andy Griffith Show. The plot and humor distract you from simply staring at the background.

But there are some fascinating pieces of art hanging on the walls of Sheriff Taylor's home and office. Jean-François Millet's The Angelus perches above the fireplace. Woodrow Wilson portraits and upside-down maps of Idaho and Nevada decorate the walls of the jailhouse.

And then there is the curious case of the young girl in the Taylor living room. It appears to be a portrait of a child dating back to the turn of the century. The young blonde rests her elbows, clutching her hands as she stares off to the right.

This portrait makes its first appearance in the very first episode, "The New Housekeeper." It hangs between the front door and the entrance to the kitchen. You can spot it as Andy ushers the newly arrives Aunt Bee into the kitchen.

Here is where it gets interesting. According to The Definitive Andy Griffith Show Reference: Episode-by-Episode, with Cast and Production Biographies and a Guide to Collectibles, a researched book written by Dale Robinson and David Fernandes, this figure in this picture is none other than Frances Bavier, the actress who played Aunt Bee.

"A publicity picture of Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee) in her younger days can be seen hanging on the wall in the Taylors' home," Robinson and Fernandes declare in their notes for "The New Housekeeper." 

The picture pops up in four subsequent episodes, all of them early in the series, including "A Feud Is a Feud," "Andy the Marriage Counselor," "Andy and Opie, Housekeepers," and "Aunt Bee's Brief Encounter."

That final appearance gives us the best look at the art, as it peers over the shoulder of Henry Wheeler (Edgar Buchanan of Petticoat Junction fame). Take a look.

Now, considering Robinson and Fernandes' claim that this image is a "publicity picture of Frances Bavier in her younger days," it is important to give a little back story on her career.

Bavier began her acting career on the stage in the 1930s, appearing on Broadway in shows such as Black Pit and Mother. The Manhattan native also made her screen debut with a tiny uncredited role in the New York City filmed comedy Girls About Town (1931). She is one of the many women in the auction scene. 

And here, already, Bavier's early career is shrouded in mystery and myth. Even the people on YouTube trying to point her out in Girls About Town can not settle on which character is actually the future Aunt Bee.

There is also an urban legend circulating on the internet that falsely identifies Gloria DeHaven as Bavier in her "pinup" days.

With such misinformation floating about, could it be possible that this factoid about the framed picture, too, is incorrect? 

The Definitely Andy Griffith Show Reference was published in the mid-1990s, before the advent of HDTV. Now that the art can be seen in crisp digital clarity, do you believe this is a young Bavier?

The girl in the photo appears to be just that — a young girl. Perhaps not even a teenager. Considering Bavier, born in 1902, did not graduate the American Academy of Dramatic Arts until 1925, how likely is it that this is a "publicity photo"?

One thing is for certain when it comes to pictures of Aunt Bee in the Taylor home. Both Opie and Andy rather oddly keep the same photo of Aunt Bee on their dressers in their bedrooms. Did you ever notice that?

We'd love to believe the portrait in the living room is Bavier. What a wonderful easter egg that would be. But we're swallowing this easter egg with a dash of salt.

What do you think? Is this a young Frances Bavier? 

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1969jimg1969 4 months ago
Just watched an episode of Carol Burnett from 1/1/67 and in one scene they are in a dressing room and there is a picture of Aunt bee on the wall behind them
TrishaM55 8 months ago
Very cool. Never noticed the pictures of Francis Bravia. She was a great actor.
BrendaGast 8 months ago
I must be impossibly un-observant, because, although I’ve seen every episode conservatively 75 times each, I’ve never noticed that portrait
gh7qd 8 months ago
Now could someone please identify the painting on the wall of Klink's private quarters on Hogan's Heroes? It's there for nearly every episode that features that set. It looks like someone rolling a barrel out a door, but I'm sure that's not it. It is to the right of the door to the (sometimes) bedroom when we are look towards to couch. (Why stop having fun with just one TV show's paintings??)
MikefromJersey 8 months ago
Ed Asner hung a photo of himself when he was a High School football player on the wall of "Lou Grant's" office all thru the run of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. When he earlier appeared on The Fugitive
the same photo is on the wall of his crummy apartment. Sometimes I worry that I have too much
time on my hands, to notice this sort of thing.
Ric1949 8 months ago
Something not mentioned that should be acknowledged and clarified: when Don Knotts becomes Mayberry's deputy, both he and Andy refer to each other as "cousin." I believe that reference was repeated in some of the earliest episodes, then was dropped without explanation.

We need to investigate the actual background of Andy Taylor and Barney Fife! If there was a genuine familial connection, that means Aunt Bee and Opie were also related to "Barn" by blood.
Tstuts Ric1949 8 months ago
I noticed that too and have also wondered if they were really related or not.
As you mentioned, they brought it up a few times and then just dropped it never to be heard of again...
DavidBarker Ric1949 8 months ago
I think the 4th episode of the 1st season is the last time we hear that they are "cousins"
Gary Ric1949 8 months ago
I believe it was dropped quickly for a reason.
"Cousin" was a good way to bring Barney into the show but other quick changes happened. Griffith soon realized it was better to let Knotts do the goofy stuff and he played straight.
Barney's ineptitude began early on with many episodes leaving us wondering if he'd keep his job. Indeed, he even resigned more than once when he knew he'd really messed up. Each time Sheriff Taylor stuck by him. Even the episode where the Club in Raleigh wanted Andy as member but not Barney.
So all these were put across as the right thing to do and sticking by a friend, not nepotism.
TvandMovieLover Ric1949 7 months ago
Well Barney always did refer to her as Aunt Bea and I think most every other outside character (Clara etc...) refered to her as just Bea. I could be wrong. I think Helen and Thelma Lou called her Aunt Bea but I always assumed it was because they were dating Andy and Barney. If she was Aunt Bea to the men she had to be Aunt Bea to their girlfriends.
Pacificsun 8 months ago
I read through all the comments first, so now I'm a bit biased, and Joel solved the mystery anyway. But you will find few literally personal effects among props in recurring shows. One reason is value, nobody wants to lose their stuff. And two, because actors value their privacy and work hard to separate themselves from the characters they portray. It's difficult spending the amount of time they do, being involved with the production. Making for little incentive to cross over their personal lives into imaginary stories.

Creative Post however, thanks MeTV Staff!
PaulKellogg 8 months ago
Never watched Andy Griffith. Not into it.
Then why bother commenting? I guess Obvious Trolls gotta troll so troll on!
BrendaGast PaulKellogg 8 months ago
The you’re wasting your time, and ours.
Heretic! be gone unclean one, and never darken the streets of Mayberry again.
CouchPotato19 PaulKellogg 6 months ago
Then watch it and you'll be into it!!!
Ednaam PaulKellogg 6 months ago
Goodness! You have right to comment if you wish.
Pilaf PaulKellogg 2 months ago
You are the first person I've ever encountered who didn't watch the show.
booster 8 months ago
A few years ago, someone sent me an e-mail of a girl dressed in a bathing suit, that was selling a motor oil product. It was supposed to be for the oil companies calendar. It wasn't the picture of Gloria DeHaven that has been proven not to be Frances Bavier. This girl had dark hair, and was standing. I tried to verify whether that was actually her, or a hoax, but could not find anything proving or disproving the photo was really her.
JosephScarbrough 8 months ago
As far as the headphones note goes, I actually do own a pair of studio-quality headphones that luckily didn't cost a fortune (back when Sentry manufactured studio headphones for the consumer market), and I have to say, I LOVE hearing tiny little details that you otherwise miss - the "plunking" sounds when a keys on a piano are being pressed, the puffs of breath inbetween notes being played into woodwind instruments, the creaking of musicians' chairs, the overall studio ambience; it's amazing.
Joel 8 months ago
The painting is "A Child with an Apple" by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. It hangs in the National Gallery, London, UK. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jean-baptiste-greuze-a-child-with-an-apple
RickBox Joel 8 months ago
You win.
spence2054 Joel 8 months ago
Wow, Joel, I'm impressed. No doubt it is the painting.
Gregory Joel 8 months ago
You win the internet today.
MarkGable Joel 8 months ago
Well done Joel!
JohnBlair Joel 8 months ago
Yes Joel and Thank you! I was going to say that is a known painting, give me a sec and I'LL tell ya'LL. You are obviously a GREAT art historian; among the Mist of MeTV viewers! The wife and me were in the National Gallery, London, UK. several times in 2014, and I'm sure that is why I knew it was ART. Best place to eat near the National Gallery, London, UK.? The Café in the Crypt!!!
All profits support the work of St Martin-in-the-Fields. https://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/visit/cafe-in-the-crypt/
Semper fi
John
Tstuts Joel 8 months ago
Thanks Joel and way to go...!
CathyE Joel 4 months ago
Good job! I knew it was a painting...but couldn't identify it. Brilliant!
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