An Online Newsletter of “The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Volume 15, Issue 4
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard finished filming Inferno in Europe earlier this month. Now it’s on to post-production work. The release date for the film is October 2016. (And don’t forget his In the Heart of the Sea is coming to theaters in December. It’s a whale of a story!)
Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron’s oldest daughter, is starring in the biggest movie on the planet this summer, Jurassic World, the giant hit that is breaking box office records all over the globe since opening in June.
Ron and his Imagine Film Entertainment team are also pleased to have secured backing from Sony Pictures and MRC for their ambitious plans to bring The Dark Tower, based on the popular series of novels by Stephen King, to TV and to theaters. As faithful readers of this newsletter will recall, putting all the pieces together for this complex film project (involving equally complex stories) has been a multi-year saga. But it looks like the financial pieces are now in place.
Ron and Imagine partner Brian Grazer are also part of the team producing an as-yet untitled Beatles documentary, which is now in post-production and is expected to give Beatles fans an unprecedented look at the Fab Four. Info about its release and distribution is expected soon.
Imagine is also producing the “Clan of the Cave Bear” TV series for Lifetime Here’s a link to a trailer for the series that features Ron.
Jim Nabors celebrated his 85th birthday in fine fashion on June 12. Jim hosted a party for 300 friends (including Carol Burnett) at his home in Honolulu. In addition, Hawaii Governor David Ige declared June 12 to be Jim Nabors Day, and President Obama sent congratulations via the Marines.
Ten days earlier, he received an Honorary Certificate from the Honolulu City Council. It recognized his years of entertaining countless audiences in the islands and beyond. Here’s a link to a news video about that.
Maggie Peterson was a guest star for the Mayberry in the Midwest (including the Mayberry Squad Car Nationals) in Danville, Ind., with TV brother Rodney Dillard in mid-May. They were joined by Karen Knotts (whose mother Kay also accompanied her for the trip!) and a full slate of Mayberry tribute artists and large crowds of enthusiastic fans.
Ronnie Schell was under the weather and had to miss his appearance at Altoona Day in Alabama in May, but he’s looking forward to Mayberry Days and the Mayberry Cruise this fall.
Jackie Joseph has been back to her globetrotting ways this year with a happy trip to France with husband David.
Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) entertained (including tap dancing) at Disneyland for festivities connected to the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May. She also celebrated her 86th birthday that weekend. Her much anticipated book about her career is coming out soon (we’re betting it’ll be in August).
Writer Sam Bobrick (19 TAGS episodes) reports that he spends most of his time these days writing plays. His plays, which run the full gamut of lengths, are popular choices by dinner and community theaters all across the country. Publisher Sam French (www.samuelfrench.com) carries many of his plays for those who want to check them out.
George Spence (Frank the Boyfriend in “Guest in the House”) celebrated his 87th birthday on April 18. He was under the weather last winter, but is feeling better now and, after having to miss last year’s festival, hopes he and wife Stephanie can return to Mayberry Days in September.
George Lindsey Jr. likewise is looking forward to Mayberry Days, and he’s working up a new song to debut for the occasion. Amid songwriting and comedy work (including performing some of both for a show at The Commons in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Father’s Day), he’s also volunteering as a carpenter at the California Wildlife Center in Malibu. And he has just finished dubbing voices in American English for seven characters in the Japanese anime Eden for William Winckler Productions. Here’s a link to a short behind-the-scenes video that shows George in action.
We’re sad to report the passing of Al Checco, who memorably appeared in two TAGS episodes, “The Bank Job” (Episode #76) and “If I Had a Quarter Million” (Episode #149). He died of natural causes at his home in Studio City on July 19, two days short of his 94th birthday.
Al was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., on July 21, 1921. He interrupted his college career at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to enlist in the Army during World War II. He was part of a unit that entertained troops in the Pacific. Don Knotts was a ventriloquist in the same unit, and the two were great friends from then on.
Al was a prominent speaker at the memorial service for Don Knotts in 2006. After that, Al shared some additional memories about Don and their experiences together with TAGSRWC. Here’s a link to that story.
Al finished his degree in drama after the war and then headed to Broadway, where he worked behind the scenes and as a performer. He returned to Broadway in the 1990s as a performer in Crazy for You.
Al had a long career as a classic character actor for TV and movies. He performed in everything from episodes of TV’s “Batman” (as Dove, a top henchman of the Penguin) and a sergeant in an a episode of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” to roles in Helter Skelter (as victim Leno LaBianca) and episodes of “The Rockford Files” to his last guest role on the hit sitcom “Scrubs” in 2004.
Of special interest to Mayberry fans are his roles with Don Knotts in The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Reluctant Astronaut, and with Andy Griffith in Angel in My Pocket.
Al could play roles from taxi drivers and bartenders to doctors and judges, including Judge John Sirica in Blind Ambition. Some of his classic movies were Bullitt (1968) with Steve McQueen, The Party (1968) with Peter Sellers (and Jean Carson, Mayberry’s “Fun Girl” Daphne and a fellow Carnegie alum) and Disney’s animated Pete’s Dragon (1977).
In 1953, Al married actress Jean Bradley. She sadly contracted polio while touring overseas in Oklahoma! and died in 1955. Al made charitable donations in her memory throughout his life, and through his will. He never remarried. A memorial service is being held Wednesday (July 29) in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Though Al was marvelously convincing as a cunning crook not once, but twice in Mayberry, he was in real life a multi-talented man with a heart of gold. His great friendship of more than 60 years with a former Army ventriloquist is testimony to that.
Bulletin Board & Event Calendar
The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest’s amazing collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, is open daily in Mount Airy, N.C. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 6-8: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning stalks fun at the Tazewell County Fair in Tazewell, Va.
* Aug. 8: Neal Brower, author of Mayberry 101, presents a lecture on the “Andy and Opie, Housekeepers” 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. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 12: Karen Knotts performs her “Tied Up in Knotts” show to the Red Skelton Museum in Vincennes, Ind. David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning also performs. Show time is 7 p.m., and tickets are $10. For info, call (812) 888-4184.
* Aug. 13 -16: Karen Knotts headlines the Mayberry Pie Festival with her “Tied Up in Knotts” show (7:30 on Fri. and 3 p.m. on Sat.) at the Kentucky Classic Theatre in Lebanon, Ky. Tickets start at $10. The weekend is full of Mayberry inspired activities, including a fishing tourney, trivia contests, free music concerts, a pie-eating contest, and a show by Barney and Otis impersonators. For more info and tickets, go to www.visitlebanonky.com/calendar-of-events/mayberry-pie-festival.
* Aug. 14-16: Margaret Kerry appears at Disney’s D23 Expo in August at the Anaheim Convention in Anaheim, Calif.
* Aug. 21: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 22: Rodney Dillard and Maggie Peterson are joined by several of the Mayberry tribute artists (including David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Phil “Ernest T.” Fox and Jeff “Howard” Branch) for a concert benefiting the Montgomery County DARE program on Saturday at the James H. Garner Center in Troy, N.C. Tickets for the show are $20 for reserved seats and $15 for general admission. Tickets for children 6 years-12 years old are $10. For more info, call Jeff Branch at (704) 985-6987, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.bluegrassintroy.com.
* Sept. 20-23: Life Lessons From Mayberry: It’s All There in Black and White in Ridgecrest, N.C. (just outside Asheville) is a Bible study event drawing on the biblical truths and life applications found in “The Andy Griffith Show.” The event is $300 per person (based on double occupancy), and includes three nights of on-campus lodging, eight meals, Bible study sessions based on favorite TAGS episodes, dynamic preaching, worship, bluegrass concert, and special guest Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins in “Christmas Story” and Helen Scobey in “Andy Forecloses”). To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at (800) 588-7222 or visit www.lifeway.com/mayberry.
* Sept. 24-27: 26th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C. Mayberry Days started in 1990, so this 26th annual festival marks its 25th Anniversary, and also the 55th Anniversary of “The Andy Griffith Show” itself. The festival already shows signs of being more chock-full of fun than ever before. If that’s even possible!
Some of the guest stars confirmed so far include beloved host cast member Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou); Barbara Eden (Manicurist Ellen Brown), who is making her first-ever appearance at a Mayberry event; Clint Howard (sandwich-toting Leon), who is making his Mayberry Days debut and attending his first Mayberry event since 1997; Elizabeth MacRae (Betty Parker on TAGS and Lou Ann Poovie on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”); Ronnie Schell (two TAGS episodes and Duke Slater on “Gomer Pyle”); Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey); festival favorite George Spence (Frank the Boyfriend); Dorothy Best (widow of James Best); and George Lindsey Jr.
And that’s not all. Tickets are already available online for key parts of the weekend, including the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament (aka The Emmett) and banquet show; a concert by Darling boy Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band, with special guest Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling); “Remember Me with Laughter: A Tribute to James Best” presented by Dorothy Best with David Browning; the comedy show of James Gregory (“the funniest man in America”); the VW Boys’ “Tribute to Mayberry”; and Neal Brower’s Lecture including TAGS assistant director Bruce Bilson (who, after his two seasons on TAGS, went on to be an Emmy-winning big-time director of other top shows).
And there’s still more, including “Tied-Up in Knotts” starring Karen Knotts; Colonel Tim’s Talent Time; Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis”; Smoke on the Mountain; The Embers; The Magnificents Band; and much more. Stay tuned for further updates on the incredible lineup of stars for this year’s special festival. For info, updates and tickets, visit www.surryarts.org.
* Oct. 3: 55th Anniversary of the airing of the first episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” on CBS.
* Oct. 3: Dean Webb and The Missouri Boatride perform at The Old Brush Arbor at Keystone Baptist Church in Reeds Spring, Mo.
* Oct. 8: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts” at 2 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio. Venue and other details TBA.
* Oct. 12-17: Ronnie Schell is the special guest star on the Cruise to Mayberry 10 to the Caribbean aboard Carnival’s Conquest cruise ship. The cruise departs Ft. Lauderdale for Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Nassau, and a “Fun Day” at sea.
Activities include a Mayberry trivia contest, whistling contest, Mayberry bible study, variety show, concerts, and entertainment by Tim White of the VW Boys and Mayberry Tribute artists, including Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Ronnie “Barney” Felker, Bob “Briscoe” Mundy, Christie “Andelina” McLendon, Jeff “Howard Sprague” Branch, Elease “Thelma Lou” Felker, Tim “Goober” Pettigrew and Keith “Colonel Harvey” Brown. “Elvis” tribute artist Wayne Euliss will also be a featured performer. For more info, visit www.allaboutcruisesnc.net/mayberry.php.
* Oct. 17: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts” at the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie, Tex. Show time is 7 p.m. For more info and tickets, visit www.uptowntheatergp.com.
* Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Margaret Kerry greets fans in the Gifts By Small Fry Booth at the Comikaze Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
* Dec. 3-5: Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling) is the special guest for A Life Lessons from Mayberry Christmas in Ridgecrest, N.C. (just outside Asheville). This heartwarming weekend will feature Bible studies based on four popular TAGS episodes, inspirational preaching and carols, and a Christmas banquet. Come celebrate Christmas…Mayberry style! For every member of the family–children’s prices available. To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at (800) 588-7222 or visit www.ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/mayberrychristmas.
* Dec. 18: Maggie Peterson and Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band are joined by David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning for a presentation of their Mayberry Christmas show at 7 p.m. ET at the historic State Theater in Elizabethtown, Ky.
* Dec. 19: Maggie Peterson and Rodney Dillard and the “Mayberry Christmas” show troupe featuring David Browning come back to Middle Tennessee with a return engagement in Mt. Juliet at Victory Baptist Church 1777 Tate Rd. 37122. The show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and go on sale on Oct. 1. (Details about how to purchase tickets are TBA before then.) Child care will also be provided. The event is jointly presented by Abundant Life Church and Victory Baptist Church.
Christmas in July
**** Chapter Update ****
Three chapters have started since our report in the last eBullet, which brings us to 1,431 chapters that have been founded since TAGSRWC started in 1979.
|“You Know What They Say About
School Teachers, Andy”
|The Cabin Club||Freeman Acres, Ala.|
|The Last Train to Mayberry||Clarksville, Tenn.|
Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do. Just pick a name that hasn’t already been chosen (that’s really the challenging part!), and submit it 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, PMB 146, Nashville, TN 37203-3100). There’s a searchable list of chapter names that are already taken at www.tagsrwc.com.
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 ****
Here’s a few of the items we’re featuring at Weaver’s this summer. Go ahead and pick out something you like, and help keep Jan and Allan Newsome, the new proprietors of our online Weaver’s store, busy!
2016 “Andy Griffith Show” Wall Calendar
Now in stock!
All the photos contained in this year’s calendar are in black and white, but some of them are from color seasons or publicity photos. The calendar is 12″ wide x 12″ tall when closed and 12″ wide x 24″ tall when open.
Order early and take advantage of this 16-mother calendar. September though December 2015 are featured together with Andy and Opie on display. All other months are in separate openings featuring on new image per month.
Actually, this shirt is not totally new. It’s a vintage design from the ’90s that we’ve brought back to our lineup.
Show your Mayberry Union High spirit and pride with this rugged T-shirt. Just add sweat, and then everybody will know you’re qualified to be featured in “Scoop” Fife’s “Pickups and Splashes from Floor and Pool“ sports column in the school newspaper.
This design and most of our T-shirts are just $20. (A few designs are $18, and the Lawmen all-over design is $25.) We also have sweatshirts and hoodies in two designs, as well as caps, Goober beanies, and deputy patches.
Fife Security Thermometer
Do you want to know how hot or cold it is and also provide a sense of security for your home or office? Well, unless you can find Rafe Hollister around to tell you how hot it is (“dang hot!), here’s the man for the job. He’s a hot shot, because he’s always cool under pressure! Note: Now out of production, so get your thermometer while you still can!
Miss Crump’s Summer Reading
We have all kinds of great books about Mayberry that are perfect for relaxed reading during the summer. Just get a nice cool glass of lemonade or sweet tea, sit on in your rocker or porch swing or under a shady tree (or indoors with air conditioning!), and sit back and read interesting things about Mayberry.
If you nod off for a snooze now and then while you’re at it, that’s O.K. Floyd even recommends it. And if you work up an appetite after all that heavy reading, we’ve got a wide variety of Mayberry and pop culture cookbooks, too.
Find all of these items and much more at weaversdepartmentstore.com, or just click on the orange and blue Weaver’s button at the top left or top right of the page whenever you’re visiting www.imayberry.com.
With temperatures really heating up across most of the country, now is the perfect time to stock up on cool Mayberry apparel. Our four newest licensed T-shirts are proving to be a huge hit! They join more than 30 other Mayberry designs available at our Weaver’s Department Store.
You’ll find these items and much more, including books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, rare collectibles, tin signs, artwork, a Barney thermometer, rare board games, blankets, items for vehicles, and who knows what all–all online at www.weaversdepartmentstore.com. (Or just go to www.imayberry.com and click on one of the orange and blue Weaver’s buttons at the top.)
**** Chapter News ****
It has been a really busy spring and summer with chapter activities and larger Mayberry events, such as May’s Mayberry in the Midwest in Danville, Ind., which also included the 13th Annual Mayberry Squad Car Nationals.
The Nationals, organized by “Hearty Eatin’ Men and Beautiful, Delicate Women” (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), had eight squad cars entered this year, including one owned by Robert and Jill Shelby of Goober’s Auto Dismantling (West Frankfort, Ill.), another owned by Don and Joyce Kernan of Foley’s Market (Farmington, Mo.), the local Mayberry Cafe car owned by Brad and Christine Born, and the pride of Chillicothe, Ohio, the car owned by Neil and Pat Coleman of Remembering Mayberry chapter. This year’s winner of Best in Show and the Ricky Carnes Memorial Trophy was the entry by avid, though chapter-less Walt and Marilyn McClellan of Johnstown, Penn.
“Shakedown! Shakedown!” (Laurnburg, N.C.) had another of its fabled chapter cookouts in June. Jeff “Howard Sprague” Branch also dropped by for the food and fellowship.
“Still Ugly, Single and Pitting Prunes” chapter of Casey, Ill., traveled to Kimberling City, Mo., to see Darling mandolinist Dean Webb and his Missouri Boatride band perform some mighty fine bluegrass music. The group performs frequently around the area year-round.
Mayberry chapter (Knoxville, Tenn.) has just published the July issue of its Mayberry Minutes chapter newsletter, which seems to get better with every issue. The newsletter, which comes out about three times a year, features lots of color photos and news of the chapter’s adventures.
So far this summer they’ve had a miniature golf party and participated in a local Fourth of July parade. One of their favorite annual events is coming up in August when the loons head to the lake for a chapter party.
“Blood Brothers” (Macon, Mo.) had their summer get-together at a farm in Marceline, Mo., in July. Chapter leader Johnna Bixenman reports, “We enjoyed food, family and fun, and had an overall relaxing day Mayberry style. We had several new members take the Blood Brothers oath. We are planning our next meeting for October 4 to celebrate the Oct. 3 anniversary of TAGS.”
Members of “Compelsion Nuts” (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Andy chapter (Nashville, Tenn.) got together in July for an extended breakfast meeting in the Tri-Cities (got time to breathe, got time to eat).
Also in July was the big Mayberry Meet-Up organized by Allan “Floyd” Newsome for the online “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board? chapter. With the Mayberry Motor Inn (aka Mayberry Hotel chapter) as their home base, groups of more than 50 folks each day enjoyed the bazaars of Mount Airy, N.C., for all 3 days. (Some came for several days, and others for just one or two of the main Meet-Up days.) Betty Lynn signed at the Andy Griffith Museum that Friday, and director Gary Nelson and producer Dick Atkins did an interesting talk before a special screening of Murder in Coweta County on Sunday, which made for nice bookends for the weekend.
Barney chapter (Greensboro, N.C.) has been timing some of its recent meetings to coincide with monthly lectures by member Neal Brower at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy. We believe Snappy Lunch pork chop sammiches might also be factoring into the equation.
Several Barney members were also among those who gathered for a more somber occasion, the memorial service for chapter co-founder Blake Clark, 93, earlier this month. (See the photo at the end of this newsletter.)
Likewise, the “Hearty Eatin’ Men and Beautiful, Delicate Women” (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) sadly lost one of its most avid members this summer. Rubye Taylor passed away suddenly on June 19. She was 69. She was a longtime and beloved member of the group.
If your chapter has news or photos to share, you can write to us the old-fashioned way at TAGSRWC HQ, 118 16th Avenue South, PMB 146, Nashville TN 37203-3100, or by e-mail to Goober@imayberry.com.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
The iMayberry Community
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome with able assistance from Keith “Col. Harvey” Brown. You can check it out 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 page, 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. 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 episodes you’ve missed.
There have been a mind-boggling 338 episodes since Allan started the podcasts in 2008. Allan received “extry good” feedback about his masterfully edited recent four-part series of podcasts featuring Neal Brower’s outstanding 2004 Mayberry Days interview with Maggie Peterson, Doug Dillard, Rodney, Dillard, Mitch Jayne and Dean Webb.
There’s a lot of info and discussions that you simply won’t find anywhere else, including rare interviews (vintage and new) with cast and crew members of TAGS. If you’ve got sound on your computer or have an iPod or similar device, you can easily tune in live or download these podcasts. And you’ll also find links there to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts.
TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook now has more than 159,000 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!
**** 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. To sign up, go to: Weaver’s Newsletter Sign-Up.
The next eBullet is planned for early September, and the next Weaver’s Newsletter should be out in mid-August.