Frances Bavier

Active - 1951 - 1974  |   Born - Jan 14, 1902 in New York City, NY  |   Died - Dec 6, 1989 in Siler City, NC  |   Genres - Comedy

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New York City-native Frances Bavier had planned to be a teacher, but her actress friend Kay Johnson convinced her to try her luck in the theatre. Almost immediately upon graduation from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1925, Bavier found herself with a one-line comedy bit especially written for her in the stage farce The Poor Nut. Her biggest break was the original Broadway production of On Borrowed Time, in which the thirtyish Frances portrayed the juvenile lead's grey-haired grandmother. She headed for Hollywood in 1950, appearing in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Stooge (1952). Bavier also kept busy on TV, showing up on a weekly basis in two sitcoms, It's a Great Life (1956) and The Eve Arden Show (1957). Cast as a whining widow lady in the 1960 pilot for The Andy Griffith Show, Bavier made so indelible an impression that the part of Aunt Bee was created for her virtually on the spot. She remained with The Andy Griffith Show even after Griffith left the series in 1968 and the program's title was changed to Mayberry RFD. Upon her retirement in 1970, Bavier dropped totally out of sight, and it was assumed by her friends and fans that she had passed away. When it was ascertained that Bavier was indeed alive, Andy Griffith tried to entreat her to appear in a 1986 Griffith Show reunion. Frances Bavier flatly refused, making it clear that she wanted no further contact with her former TV costars; she was alone and completely cut off from show business -- and liked it that way.

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