There's a bunch of Mayberry happenings to report. We'll start with upcoming events.
* May 19-21: Mayberry in the Midwest in Danville, Ind. Mayberry stars Maggie Peterson and Ronnie Schell are joined by many of the Mayberry tribute artists and Dixie Griffith (Andy's daughter) for a weekend of family entertainment that also includes a parade, the Mayberry Derby, the Mayberry Squad Car Nationals and streets full of vendors. For updates, follow the 2017 festival's Facebook page.
* May 20: Missouri Boatride (featuring Dean Webb on mandolin) performs a free concert as part of the Arts in the Park program at the Visitors Center at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (Republic, Mo.) at 7 p.m.
* June 10: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents a lecture on the "Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee" episode of TAGS, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with an Andy Griffith Museum admission ($6). Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 16: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 19: A public screening of The Real Mayberry, at 7:30 at Silverspot, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, N.C. A Q&A session with director Bill Hayes will follow. The 2016 documentary examines how Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy is adapting to changing economic and cultural circumstances while also maintaining its small-t0wn values and charm. For advance tickets, visit the Silverspot website.
* June 29-30: Roland White and his band perform at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival in Conway, Mo.
* July 8: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents a lecture on the "Convicts-at- Large" episode of TAGS, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with an Andy Griffith Museum admission ($6). Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 21: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 21-22: Coinciding with the weekend of Betty Lynn's July meet-and-greet at the Andy Griffith Museum, the Mayberry Meet-Up will be held in Mount Airy, N.C., this weekend.
This informal gathering is being coordinated by Allan "Floyd" Newsome as a chance for fans to gather and enjoy Mount Airy during a quieter time of year than with the wall-to-wall activities and crowds of Mayberry Days (also not to be missed!) in September.
There's usually a loose schedule of planned activities that folks can pick and choose from. It's mostly just a chance to hang out and relax in Mount Airy with fellow visitors and local friends. Click this link for the Mayberry Motor Inn website for room reservation info. The motel and its gazebo serve as the home base for weekend.
* Aug. 5: Mayberry Night in Troy, N.C., starring Maggie Peterson, the VW Boys and most of the Mayberry tribute artists in a fundraiser show for the local DARE program. Dixie Griffith (daughter of Andy) will be a special guest. Showtime at the James Garner Center is 7 p.m. Reserved seating is $20, General Admission tickets are $15 and admission for kids ages 6-12 is $10. For advance tickets or info, contact Jeff Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (704) 985-6987.
* Aug. 12: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents a lecture on the "Prisoner of Love" episode of TAGS, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with an Andy Griffith Museum admission ($6). Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 18: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 15: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 20-24: 28th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C. Mayberry stars already confirmed include Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Rodney Dillard (and the current Dillards band), Ronnie Schell (two episodes and also Duke Slater on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.), Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey), and Karen Knotts.
Also booked to perform are the VW Boys, Michael Hoover and his "Memories of Elvis" show, the Malpass Brothers, Balsam Range, The Tams, The Lisemby Family, and James Gregory ("the funniest man in America"). Neal Brower will also be presenting his popular Professor Brower's Lecture.
Many more details TBA. For more info, visit www.mayberrydays.org. Tickets are already available for several performances and activities.
* Sept. 23: Missouri Boatride (with Dean Webb on mandolin) performs at the Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival in Carl Junction, Mo. (just a few miles northwest of Joplin).
* Oct. 19: Karen Knotts performs "Tied Up in Knotts" at 7 p.m. at the Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley, Ariz. For more info, visit www.gaslightmusichall.com.
* Oct. 20: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Oct. 22: Karen Knotts gives the keynote speech titled "Don Knotts Rides Again" at the Wild Bunch Film Festival in Wilcox, Ariz. For info, visit www.thewildbunchfilmfestival.com.
* Oct. 24-29: Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) is the special guest star for Cruise to Mayberry 12. This year's cruise is for five days aboard Carnival's Ecstasy, departing Charleston, S.C., and traveling to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Margaret will be joined by the usual cruise company of Mayberry tribute artists and musical entertainers. For more info, visit www.allaboutcruisesnc.net or call 1-800-832-7993.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard has landed the deal to produce and direct the film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance's best-selling memoir about growing up in Appalachia.
Sources at Fife Realty also tell us that Ron has another of his homes on the market. This time it's his apartment in the Eldorado building overlooking Central Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
The asking price for the 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath unit with a private elevator is $12 million. That's reduced from the original price of $12.5 million. (Or may we recommend an Opie T-shirt at Weaver's as an even more affordable alternative?)
Top on Ron's agenda these days is talking about "Genius," the series Ron and Imagine are producing for the National Geographic Channel. He has been doing numerous interviews and public presentations in support of the series. The first season is about Albert Einstein. Ron directed the first episode, which premiered on April 25.
Betty Lynn's next day to greet fans at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, N.C., is May 19. She wasn't able to attend late April's Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in person this year, but she did participate by phone during a luncheon that celebrated her 90th birthday. (Her birthday was in August, but it's a year-long celebration!) She talked with the audience at the packed banquet hall. The song she requested that they audience sing was "You Are My Sunshine."
Maggie Peterson and Margaret Kerry attended this year's Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival. TAGS alum Dabbs Greer (four episodes) was posthumously inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame during the festival.
Margaret Kerry was also at ComiCon in Philadelphia last month and also participated in a big Easter Egg Hunt event in California. Go Margaret go!
Maggie Peterson was just getting warmed up for her spring tour, too. She joined TV brother Rodney Dillard and his band, plus David "Mayberry Deputy" Browning, the next weekend for their Mayberry Moments show in Duluth, Ga. And after a weekend off, she'll be back on the road--this time with Ronnie Schell for the Mayberry in the Midwest festival in Danville, Ind.
By the way, The Dillards are currently handling their own bookings, as well as Rodney Dillard's related Mayberry Moments, Mayberry Values and Mayberry Christmas shows. For info, contact them at email@example.com.
Dean Webb, ace mandolin player of the Original Dillards and the Darlings, celebrated his 80th birthday in March. He has recently been under the weather, but is on the mend at home, though he likely won't be climbing down ropes out of hotel windows again right away!
George Lindsey Jr. has also recovered well from a health hiccup late last year. He reports that he's booking lots of dates for his Wild West comedy show at fairs. And he and Eric Norquist (son of Margaret Kerry) are working on some new material for their "Eric and George--A One-Man Show" comedy presentation.
It is with both sadness and an automatic grin that we note the passing of Don Rickles, who guest-starred as Newton Monroe in "The Luck of Newton Monroe" (Episode #156 of TAGS) in 1965. He died of kidney failure at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., on April 6. He was 90.
There are some superb tributes from friends and peers online, as well as thorough obituaries, including this one in The New York Times.
In contrast to the famous insults of his stand-up act, Don Rickles was universally known as one of the nicest, kindest and most beloved people in the entertainment business, or anywhere else, for that matter. That Bob Newhart was his best show-business friend speaks volumes.
Another great friend was the late Aaron Ruben, who created "CPO Sharkey," which starred Don as Chief Petty Officer Otto Sharkey in 37 episodes from 1976 to 1978.
Those who didn't notice the twinkle in Don's eyes as he delivered his famous insults may not have enjoyed his humor as much as those who saw the qualities that earned him the nickname Mr. Warmth, a moniker that was both sarcastic and true.
As with his Newton Monroe, most of us just couldn't help but like Don Rickles whether on or off a stage. Who among us doesn't immediately smile and feel the exuberance of Newton when he discovers that he's a painter?
And whole new generations have grown up loving the voice Don gave to Mr. Potato Head in the animated Toy Story movies.
An ept life indeed, Mr. Rickles. Thanks for all the laughs, you hockey puck you!
**** Chapter Update ****
No new chapters have started since our report of the newest three in the March eBullet. We currently have had 1,450 chapters founded since TAGSRWC started 38 years ago.
Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is easy. Just pick a name that hasn't already been selected by another group. You can check the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com.
Then, submit the name with a list of your founding members by e-mail (to Goober@imayberry.com) or by U.S. Mail to TAGSRWC's HQ (118 16th Avenue South, Suite 4, PMB 146, Nashville, TN 37203-3100).
Whether or not you start or join a local chapter, you can always join our online "Who's Been Messin' Up the Bulletin Board?" chapter. (It's really quick and easy to do. Info is at tagsrwc.com.)
**** Merchandise Update ****
An item we're particularly pleased to offer is a compilation of 45 tunes from three acclaimed Dillards albums (Back Porch Bluegrass, Live Almost and Pickin' and Fiddlin'), all on a new 2-CD set. Check out the list of songs (including many that The Dillards played as the Darling boys in Mayberry) HERE at Weaver's.
On the video front, we've added How to Frame a Figg and Private Eyes back to our selection of DVDs. Private Eyes not only stars Don Knotts and Tim Conway (and the Biltmore Estate), but it also features the late Bernard Fox, Mayberry's Malcolm Merriweather.
We also have a great deal on a collection of four Herbie the Love Bug movies. One stars Don Knotts (and again features Bernard Fox) and one stars Ken Berry.
With short-sleeve weather upon us (hooray!), what better time to shop for some new Mayberry T-shirts? We now have more than 40 different designs to choose from.
Check out all the new items and old favorites online at Weaver's Department Store. And remember that Weaver's sales help support Mayberry events and Mayberry-related charitable causes all year long at locations all around the country. Those sales also help keep our online Mayberry newsletters and communities available to everybody free of charge.
**** Chapter News ****
Chapters from Indiana had their regular gathering of Mayberry fans at the Mayberry Cafe in Danville, Ind., on May 7. The Mayberry Cafe and our Indiana chapters will also be at the heart of the Mayberry in the Midwest festival later this coming weekend (see Floyd's calendar above).
In April, Mayberry chapter (Knoxville, Tenn.). celebrated its 2oth year as a re-grouped chapter (having been founded by TAGS author Richard Kelly in the early 1980s). And earlier this month, the chapter, including some of its Mayberry squad car replicas, participated in a the 32nd Annual Dolly Homecoming Parade in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., home of Dollywood.
The Schwumpsters (Mount Sidney, Va.) report that they've been having folks from ages nine to 90 attend their Mayberry Bible study, which started last September and ends this month.
Several chapters, including hometown chapter "Hearty Eatin' Men and Beautiful, Delicate Women," and most of the Mayberry tribute artists were on hand in late April for the annual Eagles' Wings fundraiser in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Kleptomenerac chapter (Sanford, N.C.) held an April meeting that was televised and also included a phone hook-up with Andy chapter (Nashville, Tenn.) There was a lot of chit-chat about a full range of Mayberry topics. We're happy to report that nobody stole the show.
Al Gandolfi of "There He Goes!" chapter (Titusville, Fla.) was featured in a big local newspaper story about his love of all things Mayberry.
That's our Chapter News for this issue. If your chapter has news or photos you'd like to share with The eBullet, please send them to Goober@imayberry.com.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan "Floyd" Newsome with big help from Keith "Col. Harvey" Brown. You can check out the fun and sign up for free at: http://imayberrycommunity.com.
The iMayberry Community complements our other online activities, including our main www.imayberry.com page, podcasts, Facebook pages, online newsletters (such as The eBullet!), weaversdepartmentstore.com and chat rooms.
Two Chairs, No Waiting is our weekly podcast of TAGS news, interviews and pretty much whatever happens to be going on in and around Mayberry. It's hosted by Allan Newsome. Most weeks also include a Mayberry History Lesson from special correspondent Randy Turner.
There's a new episode every Tuesday (and you can watch and listen live during tapings on Monday evenings). Past episodes are in an online Archives in case you want to listen to or view classic installments you've missed. (As of this week, there have been 426 episodes since Allan started the podcasts almost nine years ago.)
And you'll also find links on that web page to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts: Burke on Mayberry (hosted by TAGSRWC's Kevin Burke) and the Mayberry Bible Study Podcast (again hosted by Allan Newsome).
TAGSRWC's official page on Facebook has over 240,000 friends! You can find us at www.facebook.com/tagsrwc. If you haven't already dropped by the page, we hope you'll check it out sometime when you have the chance. We invite you to become a TAGSRWC Facebook Friend!
We also have links in our "Liked by this Page" section to the pages of several TAGSRWC chapters on Facebook (including the Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild), as well as to Facebook pages of Mayberry Days, the Andy Griffith Museum, TAGS actors and others.
Ben Weaver also has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. It features all the latest in Mayberry items and merchandise news.
**** Post Note ****
If you ever miss receiving an issue of The eBullet, you can always catch up by reading it in the eBullet Archives in the Newsletters section at imayberry.com. Each issue is placed in the Archives at the same time that it's distributed to subscribers.
Between issues of The eBullet, keep up with all the happenings in Mayberry with the daily Who's Been Messin' Up the Bulletin Board? (aka "WBMUTBB?") Digest. It's a free subscriber list that consists entirely of comments, newsflashes, and questions and answers from subscribers. You can sign up for that list by going to the Mailing Lists link at tagsrwc.com. "WBMUTBB?" also has its own Archives where you can follow the ongoing stream of messages.
And TAGSRWC publishes Weaver's Newsletter in alternate months to The eBullet. Like The eBullet, the Weaver's Newsletter is free. Its focus is tilted a little more to Mayberry merchandise and collectibles and quick newsflashes. It has some content overlap with The eBullet, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. To sign up, go to Weaver's Newsletter Sign-Up.
The next eBullet is planned for July, and the next Weaver's Newsletter is scheduled for June.
A life and career hard to top!