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October 29, 2021

Frances Bavier AKA Aunt Bee on 'The Andy Griffith Show' Saw a Psychiatrist Because of Her Role

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There are characters that leave quite an impact on fans, so much that they earn a place in history and make the actor or actress who portrayed them become forever linked to them.

Just like legendary actor Leonard Nemoy is immediately associated with Mr. Spock from "Star Trek," Frances Bavier's name will forever be connected to Aunt Bee.

Bavier played the part on "The Andy Griffith Show," and fans of the series grew used to seeing her managing the house for Mayberry's sheriff while taking care of his son in every episode.

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LOSING HERSELF

While it was the actress' most famous role, the one that truly defined her career, it has been reported that Bavier was forced to seek the help of a psychiatrist because of it.

She lived in seclusion in her dark and rundown house.

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During an interview with the Star-Gazette in 1966, Bavier explained that she was having trouble dealing with the fact that she was being seen as Aunt Bee outside of the show, and not who she really was. She said:

"Sooner or later, your mind begins to click and in my case, you are wise to seek professional help to help stop being Aunt Bee after work. It’s terribly difficult because Aunt Bee is so much nicer than the real me."

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THE WISH TO GO BAD

The star stated that it was not like playing a character in a play for a couple of hours a night since on TV she had to be Aunt Bee for up to 12 hours every day.

Not only did she claim that Aunt Bee was a much nicer person than she was in real life, but she also told The Charlotte News that she got the urge to play a villainous woman once in a while.

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She got that opportunity during an episode of "Lone Ranger," however, fans were not happy to see the person they believed to be the real Aunt Bee behaving so differently from what they were used to. She recalled:

"So many people wrote in outrage at what I was doing, I guess it was a mistake. Sometimes it gets me down to think I’ve lost my own identity and my identity as an actress."

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HARD TO WORK WITH

Although she was a very talented and dedicated actress, Bavier developed a reputation for being a very difficult person to work with, as explained by published author Richard Kelly.

Kelly, who wrote the 1981 book "The Andy Griffith Show," had the opportunity to sit down and talk with members of the series, from stars to producers.

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During those conversations, he learned that Bavier could often be found away from the rest of the cast, so much that he referred to her as a "rather remote lady."

Sheldon Leonard, a producer on the show, said that Bavier was very "self-contained and was not part of the general hijinks that centered upon Andy on the set."

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FOREVER A LONER

But that was just Bavier being herself. She highly valued her privacy, so much that in her later years she lived in seclusion in her dark and rundown house in Siler City, North Carolina.

That was the same house she passed away in on December 6, 1989, after retiring from show business in 1972. According to neighbors, she rarely left her home.

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It has been reported that, unlike the character she was known for, Bavier did not, or was unable, to keep up her home and that the odor inside was quite strong due to her 14 cats, frayed carpets, and peeling plaster.

It is believed that the star spent most of her time in a plainly furnished back room with just a bed, a desk, a television, and an end table, where she kept black licorice, her opera glasses, and a bell.

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CAUSE OF DEATH

Prior to her passing, Bavier spent 2 weeks in the hospital, and it was stated that the 86-year-old's death was a result of myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and atherosclerosis.

Her belongings were later auctioned. Although she didn't have many possessions, she had several rare leather-bound books, a lace collection, and table linens.

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Bavier also kept items from "The Andy Griffith Show," such as a dress, some hats, and publicity pictures, as well as a blue satin gown that looked similar to the one she wore when she received her Emmy Award.

Born in 1902 in New York City, Bavier's first instinct was to become a teacher and even attended Columbia University in order to make that dream come true.

Unfortunately, that didn't work out as she felt "terrified," leading her towards the American Academy of Dramatic Arts." She landing her first Broadway appearance in 1925 in "The Poor Nut."

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OTHER PROJECTS

Throughout her career, she appeared in films such as "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Sally and Saint Anne," "Horizons West," "Bend of the River" and "My Wife's Best Friend."

On the small screen, aside from "The Andy Griffith Show," Bavier starred in "The Loretta Young Show," "The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse," "City Detective," "It's a Great Life" and "The Eve Arden Show."

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HER PERSONAL LIFE

Bavier never had any children, but, during the interview with the Star-Gazette, she revealed that she was once married, but that the union didn't work out because her husband couldn't deal with her work. She said:

“I married a man who was charming in every way, except that, being non-professional, he had little patience with my dedication to acting.  I wanted to be both wife and actress, but learned quickly that this is impossible."

Bavier explained that it was not that she didn't love her husband, whose identity is yet to be revealed, but that she loved acting more and believed that there was no future in which they could be together.

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The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on news.AmoMama.com, or available through news.AmoMama.com is for general information purposes only. news.AmoMama.com does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.