There were so many memorable characters on The Andy Griffith Show. The citizens of the fictional small town of Mayberry, North Carolina were all incredibly charming and we will always love the show that gave us a young Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith as his dad Sheriff Andy Taylor, and Don Knotts as the hilarious Deputy Barney Fife in the ultimate all-star cast. But the show really wouldn't have been the same without one of our favorite characters -- Aunt Bee. Frances Bavier brought the character to life across the TV show's iconic 8 seasons, winning an Emmy Award for the role, which she is best known for from her lengthy career in Hollywood.
Here are some things you might not have known about our beloved Aunt Bee.
1. She got her start on Broadway
Frances Elizabeth Bavier grew up in New York City and had every intention of becoming a teacher after attending Columbia University. But after getting involved in vaudeville, she hit the Broadway stage and never looked back. She graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and appeared in multiple stage productions before moving over to film.
2. She's appeared in multiple other popular TV series
Bavier has done way more TV work than just her popular sitcom and its spinoffs Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Mayberry R.F.D. She's had roles in The Lone Ranger, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Revenge, Dragnet, and more.
3. Her cast members didn't always get along with her
According to author Richard Kelly in his 1981 book, The Andy Griffith Show, after interviewing multiple cast members Bavier was actually one of the most difficult to work with. Although that may have had to do with her high standards of professionalism
Producer Sheldon Leonard commented, "[She] was a rather remote lady. Highly professional and a fine comedienne, fine actress with very individual character. She was rather self-contained and was not part of the general hi-jinks that centered upon Andy on the set."
4. She tended to keep to herself on set
Ron Howard told the Archive of American Television in 2006 that even on set she was a private person but always kept things professional.
"She kept to herself. Frances very much kept to herself. She was a New York stage actress, and I think she always loved the job and appreciated it was a big success, and was extremely professional. But I don't think she ever felt a part of what these boys were up to and their shenanigans."
5. She spent her final days in a small town similar to Mayberry
In 1972, Bavier moved to the quiet town of Siler City, North Carolina, and become somewhat of a recluse. She lived a private life with her 14 cats, rarely leaving the house until she passed away in 1989.
"She strikes me as living a sparse life in her latter years, a very quiet life," said Diana Hatch, communications director for the University of North Carolina Center for Public Television told the Los Angeles Times.
6. She sometimes wanted to play other types of characters but everyone preferred the Aunt Bee type
Bavier told The Charlotte News of Charlotte, North Carolina, "Once in a while I get a hankering to play a really bad woman. Once a few years ago I was really vicious in a Lone Ranger episode, but 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. But other times I get a lift when I realize that I'm really doing quite well."
Her tombstone even reads "Aunt Bee, To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die."