- The eBullet - https://tagsrwc.com/the_ebullet -

The eBullet: Volume 17, Issue 1, January 2017

The eBullet
An Online Newsletter of “The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Volume 17, Issue 1
January 2017


We have a lot of news and happenings to share this issue–mostly upbeat, but sadly also including obituaries for three outstanding members of the TAGS cast and crew.

We’ll start with some upcoming events.


Floyd’s Barbershop

Bulletin Board
Event Calendar

Setting the style for 2017!


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.

SPECIAL DELIVERY--Betty Lynn creates a memorable moment for a delighted fan at meet-and-greet event at the Andy Griffith Museum. Photo by Hobart Jones.

SPECIAL DELIVERY–Betty Lynn creates a memorable moment for a delighted fan at meet-and-greet event at the Andy Griffith Museum. Photo by Hobart Jones.

Jan. 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.

* Feb. 10 and 11: Karen Knotts is “Tied Up in Knotts” at the Groundlings “G3” Stage in Hollywood, Calif.  Show time both nights is 8 p.m. Admission is $5.

* Feb. 17: 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.

* Feb. 25 and 26: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning patrols the 48th Annual Road & Custom Car Show in Monticello, Iowa.

FilmFeestBig* Mar. 2-4: 20th Annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, Ala.  Details TBA.  For updates, visit www.lindseyfilmfest.com.

* Mar. 11-16: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning joins a bunch of bluegrass performers for the music-filled Song of the Mountains Cruise departing Tampa and traveling to Key West and Cozumel, and hosted by Tim White.  For more info, visit www.songofthemountainscruise.com.

* Mar. 17: 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.

* Mar. 17: Karen Knotts brings “Tied Up in Knotts” to the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, Iowa.  Show time is 7 p.m.  For more info, visit the Bridge View Center website.

* Apr. 13: Karen Knotts and “Tied Up in Knotts” come to Morrill Hall Auditorium at Ohio State University at Marion.  Show time is 7:30 p.m. For more info visit the OSU Marion website.

Betty Lynn with two generations or fans (and a napper) at the Andy Griffith Museum. Photo by Hobart Jones.

Betty Lynn with two generations or fans (and a napper) at the Andy Griffith Museum. Photo by Hobart Jones.

* Apr. 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.

* May 19: 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.

fredgoss* 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.

convictsatlargephone* 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.

* 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. 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 jbranch205@gmail.com or (704) 985-6987.

prisoneroflove* 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.

EVERYBODY BACK ON THE TRUCK–Rodney Dillard and wife Beverly keep on truckin’ down Main Street during the 2016 Mayberry Days parade. Photo by Hobart Jones.


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.

* 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.

MargaretKerry* 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. Note: There’s a much earlier deposit deadline than usual for this cruise, so be sure to plan early.


**** News of Cast & Crew ****

GOLDEN GOAL LINE STAND–Ron Howard poses with Ezra Edelman, director of the probable Oscar-nominated documentary O.J: Made in America, and Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor in O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial. Ron was hosting a pre-Golden Globes party in honor of Ezra and his documentary. Ron himself is nominated for a Grammy for a documentary of his own, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week–The Touring Years.

Ron Howard is enjoying high praise from critics and fans for his and Imagine Entertainment’s “Mars” docu-drama on the National Geographic Channel. And the company’s “Genius” series is also in production.  It’s will be Nat Geo’s first-ever fully scripted drama. The first season, starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein premieres in April.

There’s also serious deal-making in the works to bring 1982’s Night Shift, which Ron directed as Imagine’s first feature-film release, to Broadway.  As a musical!  Stay tuned for more on that.

And wheels are back in motion to get everything worked out for production to begin for Season 5 of “Arrested Development.”  The desire is there among all parties, and schedules are being checked for availability.  Ron will continue to narrate the popular series that’s now part of the Netflix family.

Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) was a bit under the weather during Christmas, but she has been doing much better in the new year.  She’ll be back greeting fans on January 20th at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, N.C. (where she lives) for her regular monthly session there.

Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling) also had a health hiccup in December, but ever the trouper she quickly recovered and made her way across the country toward her Mayberry Christmas show in Johnson City, Tenn.  That was the plan, anyway.  After numerous weather-related flight delays, she finally got on a flight to Charlotte.  But then her connection from there to Johnson City was delayed several times before finally being cancelled.  So, Maggie just got back on a plane and flew back home.  She had to laugh about the whole ordeal…but only later!

Nevertheless the Mayberry Christmas show went on with Rodney Dillard (the guitar-playing Darling boy) and the Dillards and David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning.  By all accounts, it was another wonderful performance of this special holiday tradition. Still, Maggie was very much missed.

Jackie Joseph (sweet Romeena) had cataract surgery earlier this month, and everything is now looking good.

THE KEYS TO SUCCESS–Clint and Rance Howard (front and center together) have a lot to handle in this recently completed film.

Clint Howard (Leon) has completed filming of Mad Families, the feature film that caused him to have to miss Mayberry Days at the last minute last fall.  He plays a character named Gravy.

Clint and father Rance Howard (multiple TAGS roles) have also finished work on Rick’s Parking.  Clint plays the lead, named Phel.  Rance plays Rauch.  It’s about the antics of a valet parking service. The tagline is “It’s a strange lot.” Something tells us this may not be a film we’ll be seeing at the multiplex.

George Lindsey Jr. (aka Goober-son) hit some medical speed bumps in December, but he’s on the mend this month.

Karen Knotts (daughter of Don) has been picking up this year where she left off last year with a string of performances of her popular one-woman “Tied Up in Knotts” show.  Early dates are in California before she ventures out to the Midwest and beyond (including Mayberry Days in September!).



It is with great sadness that we report the passing of three people who made significant contributions to Mayberry, the world of entertainment, and, for that matter, simply to the world in general.

Bernard Fox
May 11, 1927 -December 14, 2016

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!–The Exciting Adventures of a Boy and His Bike


Bernard Fox, Mayberry’s charming “Englishster” Malcolm Merriweather died in Van Nuys, Calif., on December 14. He was 89.

The question really is how to even begin to capture the magic of Bernard’s life with mere words.  His was a grand life, one lived with a rare combination of grace and gusto.  He was the life of every party.  If there wasn’t a party before he arrived, there certainly was one after he entered any setting!

MAP QUEST–Must’ve taken a wrong turn at Heckmondwike.

Though he was in just three episodes of TAGS (“Andy’s English Valet,” “The Return of Malcolm Merriweather” and “Malcolm at the Crossroads”), Bernard’s Malcolm Merriweather has remained one of the most memorable and beloved of the entire series.

Bernard participated in numerous Mayberry cast reunion events from the mid-1990s through mid-2000s.  From Michigan to Tennessee and from Ohio to North Carolina to Alabama and closer to home in California, Bernard always delighted Mayberry audiences.

OPRY VIEW–Bernard at center stage at the Grand Ole Opry during a Mayberry Cast Reunion visit to Nashville in 2001. And not too shabby of a backup singer behind him!


Ever the hail fellow well met, Bernard became good friends with many fans over the years. He took a genuine interest in people and took the time to learn more about them. He was naturally curious, a quality that served him well in performing.

As a young chap.

Not actually an Englishman, he was born Bernard Mitchell Lawson on May 11, 1927, in Port Talbot, South Wales, to Queenie Barrett and Gerald Lawson, both of whom were actors.

A “HEROES” WELCOME–And quite a bit different than Bernard’s actual WWII experience.

Bernard began his acting career at the age of 18 months, when he was carried on stage. By age of 14, he was an assistant manager of a theater. After his time in the Royal Navy, including dangerous duty on a minesweeper during World War II, he resumed his acting career. In 1952, he was invited to join London’s Whitehall Farce Players.

DOUBLE DOLLOPS OF LOVE–Bernard and Jacquie on their honeymoon.


That work lead to broader theater work, both in London and around Europe.  He met Jacquie Holt, an American actress and his future bride, when they were both performing in a production of The Amorous Prawn in Rome in 1959.  (She played a Cockney maid, and he played a butler.)

A Night to Remember and…

…and Titanic.

Bernard’s theater performances garnered him accolades and attention that dovetailed with his first work in films. Bernard has the distinction of being the only actor to be appear in both A Night to Remember (1958, as  crow’s nest lookout Frederick Fleet, who has the memorable line, “Iceberg dead ahead, sir!”) and 1997’s global blockbuster Titanic in which he played survivor Col. Archibald Gracie IV.

SAVING GRACIE–Bernard (center left) dines with all-star cast during an elegant dinner scene aboard the Titanic.


Bernard met TAGS writers Ray Saffian Allen and Harvey Bullock in 1957 when the two writers were working in London on “Dick and the Duchess” for CBS.  After that series wrapped, Ray stayed in London to produce sitcoms for British TV, including “Three Live Wires,” which starred Bernard in all 26 episodes as a character named…Malcolm.

When Ray Allen eventually returned to America to pick up again writing for Danny Thomas and others, he told Bernard that if he ever came to America, he’d write a part in a show for him. Bernard did, and Ray did.

BIKE TO BASICS–Malcolm pedals joy when he rides into Mayberry.

THE WHEEL DEAL–Bernard had gained an extra wheel by the time he cruised on the stage for the Mayberry Cast Reunion at Opryland in 2001.

That led to more doors being opened and more folks in Hollywood lining up to cast Bernard as the outstanding new go-to actor for Englishman roles. Harvey Bullock was at the head of the line wanting to work with Bernard–writing all three Malcolm Merriweather episodes, which spanned from 1963 to 1965.


CAR 53, WHERE ARE YOU?– Bernard and fellow bad guy Roy Kinnear make their point with Don Knotts and Dean Jones as Herbie revs up for a rescue.

SAY “CHEESE”–We’d recognize that mouse-stache anywhere!

Bernard went on to play heavies in two movie comedies with Don Knotts: Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) and The Private Eyes (1980)Bernard also supplied the voice of the Chairmouse in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under for Disney. And he traveled to the Sahara to film his role of wacky pilot Winston Havelock in The Mummy, a sequel-spawning hit of 1999.




Though always first and foremost Malcolm Merriweather in the hearts of Mayberry fans, the world  beyond Mayberry probably knows and loves him even better for his recurring role as Dr. Bombay, the multi-costumed warlock on “Bewitched” and its sequel “Tabitha” (as well as a cameo in 1999 on the daytime soap opera “Passions”).

VERY CAPE-ABLE ACTOR–And that’s no bull!


Before and during “Bewitched,” legions of TV fans also first enjoyed watching Bernard in his frequent visits to Stalag 13 as the hilariously pompous and bumbling Colonel Crittendon on “Hogan’s Heroes.”

THE VERY WITCHING TIME OF DAY–Bernard with Kasey Rogers (Louise Tate), director William Asher and Erin Murphy (Tabitha Stephens) at the unveiling of the TV Land Landmark for “Bewitched” in Salem, Mass., in 2005.


QUICK DRAW–Bernard as a straight-shooting detective in the 1965 “Dick Van Dyke Show” episode titled “Never Bathe on a Saturday.” He’s pictured here with ace TAGS writer as a bellboy (who also looks a lot like Herman Glimscher).

The consummate character actor, Bernard could perform in any type of role, whether comedy or drama. Among his credits were episodes of top shows such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Perry Mason,” “McHale’s Navy,” “F Troop,” “The Wild, Wild West,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “I Spy,” “Columbo,” “M*A*S*H,” “Simon & Simon” and “Murder She Wrote.” And it’s no surprise that Bernard could totally own a portrayal of Dr. Watson to anybody’s Sherlock Holmes, as he did with Stewart Grainger as Sherlock in 1972’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.

AND JUST ONE MORE THING…Another encounter with a detective.

THE GAME’S AFOOT–You don’t have to be a detective to know that Bernard is the perfect Dr. Watson to Stewart Grainger’s Sherlock Holmes is “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”










Even with all of his tremendous success in films, Bernard’s greatest performing love probably remained live theater.

In addition to his many stage productions in Great Britain and Europe before moving to America, Bernard performed numerous plays in North America, including 13 Rue de L’Amour on Broadway in 1978.

RIGHT YOU ARE, GOV’NER– The cast for the Mayberry Cast Reunion at Opryland in 2001 during an official reception at the Tennessee Governor’s Mansion in Nashville. In the back row (l-r) are Bernard, Doug Dillard, Don Knotts and George Lindsey. In front are Gov. Don Sundquist and First Lady Martha Sundquist, Rodney Dillard, Howard Morris, Maggie Peterson and Betty Lynn. Photo by Jed DeKalb.


Bernard also wrote, directed, acted in and hosted A Night in an English Music Hall, a re-creation of a Victorian Music Hall at Santa Monica’s Mayfair Theatre from 1973 to 1978.

CROWD PLEASER–Bernard entertains at Oxfordfest in Oxford, Ala., in 1995. Photo by Karen Leonard.


BOSOM BUDDIES–Ernest T. Bass and Malcolm.

TOGETHER AGAIN, AGAIN –On stage in 1995 at the 35th Anniversary “Andy Griffith Show” Cast Reunion in Winston-Salem, N.C. Photo by Steve Keenan.

He later toured with his own one-man Miniature Music Hall with performances everywhere from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to an arts festival in Santa Fe to even the Queen Mary. He shared routines from his one-man show during his performances at Mayberry cast reunion shows–never failing to delight audiences.

After retiring from acting (an episode of “Dharma & Greg” in 2001 was his last film role), Bernard still performed bits from his Music Hall act for a range of audiences, including large public reunion gatherings for TAGS and “Bewitched.” And he remained in demand for a variety of public appearances and interviews pertaining to Titanic.  He also focused on gardening and painting and enjoying time with his family and socializing with his many friends.

TREE-MENDOUS TALENT–Bernard making a paper tree during the Mayberry Cast Reunion in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1995.

Bernard is survived by Jacquie, his wife of 55 years, daughter Amanda and two grandchildren. Daughter Valerie passed away in 2006. No funeral service is planned for Bernard, but there will be a party to celebrate his life.  To that, we can all say, “Cheers to a jolly good fellow!”

Bernard has left us many happy memories and many marvelous performances for generations to enjoy. As Malcolm Merriweather, he taught us about bubble and squeak and roly poly pudding and how to make things out of rolled up newspapers and how to paint faces on eggs.

Bernard Fox, for all time, was indeed a real bobby dazzler.

Bernard Fox, “Weren’t you kind!”

Proceed in close order.


Editor’s Note: We can’t recall with certainty who took the photographs above from the TAGS cast reunion in Nashville in 2001.  We think either Karen Leonard or Bart Boatwright, both great photographers and friends of Bernard’s.


Jeffrey Hayden, director of eight TAGS episodes, died of cancer in Los Angeles on December 24.  He was 90.

With his film directing work that was almost exclusively for television (he directed only one movie outside of TV, in 1957), Jeff was prolific in an active career that spanned more than 40 years.  He directed the full cross-section of TV shows, from comedies and dramas to variety shows and documentaries, from primetime to daytime.

His longest single stint as a director was for 39 episodes of “Peyton Place” in its 1965-66 season.  His next longest run was 28 episodes of “The Donna Reed Show” from 1960 to 1962.  And then were his eight episodes during Season 4 of TAGS (1963-64) and also eight of “Alias Smith and Jones” from 1970 to 1972.  He liked having diverse assignments and avoiding creative ruts.

Jeff’s eight episodes of TAGS are some the favorites of the entire series: “A Black Day for Mayberry,” “Opie’s Ill-Gotten Gain,” “Up in Barney’s Room,” “Andy’s Vacation,” “Andy Saves Gomer,” “Bargain Day,” “Divorce Mountain Style” and “A Deal Is a Deal.” (He shared some of his thoughts about working on TAGS in this interview with The Archive of American Television. Scroll down to select the fifth segment, whose heading mentions TAGS.)

He learned an important lesson in “Opie’s Ill-Gotten Gain”– one that has become an often-noted part of TAGS lore.  His lesson was to always shoot enough closeups and two-shots to cover all possibilities in the editing room.

BAD HAIR DAY–In order to form a more perfect you.

When Barney becomes frustrated as he “recites” the Preamble to The Constitution of the United States of America, many fans have noticed how Barney’s hair mysteriously goes back and forth between nicely combed to mussed up. That was because Jeff assumed the editors would edit a certain way, and they didn’t.  This goof isn’t something just modern-day viewers have noticed in reruns.  It was noticed and brought to Jeff’s attention by The Powers that Be at the time.  Lesson learned.

GRAND COUPLE–Jeff and wife Eva Marie Saint.

But none of that mattered.  Jeff got to direct six more episodes of TAGS.  And besides, he was married to Oscar-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, so any flaws with Barney Fife’s hair were easily kept in perspective. (As should they also be in his obituary.)

Jeff was born Raphael Levine in New York City on October 15, 1926. Jeff enjoyed Favored on status with Andy Griffith because both not only graduated from  the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, but they were there at the same time.

GOOD HARE DAY–Jeff Hayden and Eva Marie Saint with son Darrell.

After graduation, Jeff worked for NBC and then as an associate director for ABC in New York City, where he met Eva Marie Saint.  They were married in 1951.  They had two children, Laurette and Darrell.

Jeff’s directing work caught the attention of Hollywood, and he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1954. He hit the ground filming and he enjoyed a fulfilling career of steady and noteworthy work.

He also directed numerous stage plays, including many starring his wife. He also performed with her in a production of Love Letters at Bowling Green State University, as well as a production of On the Divide.

Jeff also was generous in sharing his knowledge.  He was a Distinguished Professor of Theatre Arts at his alma mater.  He also taught at the University of Southern California, UCLA and Vanderbilt University. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Bowling Green State University and the University of South Carolina.

SUPER FAMILY–Jeff Hayden and Eva Marie Saint with two of their grandchildren at the world premiere of Superman Returns in Westwood, Calif., in 2006.

He was also active in professional organizations, especially the Directors Guild of America, where he was a founding member of its Creative Rights Committee.

In addition to his wife of 65 years and his two children, Jeff Hayden is survived by four grandchildren.

We the People join his family in mourning the passing of a fine man whose work will continue to bring much joy throughout Mayberry and beyond.




William Christopher, who appeared in two episodes of TAGS, died of complications from small-cell carcinoma at his home in Pasadena, Calif., on December 31. He was 84.

Bill’s roles on TAGS, IRS Agent Heathcote in “Aunt Bee on TV” in Season 6 and most memorably as main guest actor in the role of Dr. Thomas Peterson in “A New Doctor in Town” in Season 7, were, respectively, his fifth and eighth film roles. His third and fourth performances to air were as Lester Hummel on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”  He would go on to appear in 14 more episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

SEMPER FUN–Bill as Lester Hummel with Frank Sutton at Sgt. Vince Carter on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

As visits from an IRS agent go, William Christopher would be about the best a person one could hope for.  And it turned out that there were no worries about him as a doctor, either.

Born in Evanston, Ill., on October 20, 1932, Bill graduated with a B.A. in Drama from Wesleyan University in 1954.  His first acting job was with the Barnstormers Theatre in New Hampshire. He made his Broadway debut in the early 1960s in the hit British comedy revue Beyond the Fringe.

But the role that he was really born to play came in 1972 with his portrayal of the iconic Father Francis Mulcahy in 213 episodes of “M*A*S*H” and later 30 episodes of “After MASH.”

WAR STORIES–Bill’s work on “Hogan’s Heroes” helped get him get noticed by producers for “M*A*S*H.”

Along the way, Bill also worked withdirector Howard Morris (aka Ernest T. Bass) in With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), starring Doris Day and Brian Keith and also featuring fellow TAGS and “M*A*S*H” alum Jamie Farr and a slew of familiar faces from Mayberry, including Jackie Joseph and Allan Melvin.  And he worked with Don Knotts in The Shakiest Gun in the West (also 1968) and with Andy Griffith in the fondly-remembered feature film Hearts of the West (1975).

AT EASEL, SOLDIER–In this scene with Harry Morgan, maybe the Colonel should think about being a potter.

His other film work ranged from the voice of Angel Smurf in “The Smurfs” to playing a priest in episodes of “Days of Our Lives” in 2012. He also remained very active in theater performances–coming full circle with how he began his acting career.

WELL-DRESSED MAN–And a well-blessed life.

Bill met future wife Barbara O’Connor on a blind date.  They were married in 1957.  They adopted two sons, John and Ned, who is autistic.  In 1985, Bill and Barbara wrote Mixed Blessings, a book about their experiences with Ned’s autism.  They were also very active in autism charities and awareness efforts.

Bill Christopher is survived by his wife and both sons.  And by a worldwide audience of admiring fans who are grateful for his legacy of moving performances and good works.

To that we can all say a heartfelt…Amen!



 **** Chapter Update ****

Two new chapters have officially started since our last report in the September eBullet.  We currently have had 1,447 chapters founded since TAGSRWC began in Nashville in 1979.

“Old Aunt Mariah Jumped in the Fire”                  Marmora, N.J.
A Little Mayberry in the Mountains                      Parsons, W.V.

A hearty welcome to both of these new chapters!

Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do.  Just pick a name that hasn’t already been chosen. That’s not as easy as it might sound. You can check  the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com.

Anyway, 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 ****

Here are highlights from our online Weaver’s Department Store at www.imayberry.com

Barney’s Sidecar Company Sweatshirt

sidecarcosweatNEW!  $32.00

This sweatshirt is a new addition at Weaver’s to match the T-shirt and mouse pad of the same name and design and allows you to keep showing your Mayberry spirit right on through the cold weather.  Check out all our sweatshirt designs.

The front of the sweatshirt declares “Barney’s Sidecar Company” as he gets ready for Checkpoint Chickie…helmet and all.

The sand-colored sweatshirt is 50/50 cotton/polyester with air-jet yarn for a softer feel and to prevent pilling. It has double-needle stitching, double-needle cuffs, and a 1-inch athletic Spandex rib. It’s preshrunk for a lasting fit, and it’s quarter-turned to avoid a center crease.

Old Lady Crump’s
Winter Reading

THE BIG FREEZE–Don’t make Miss Crump give you this look. Just go ahead and select a book and then quickly and quietly get on with reading it.


We have all kinds of great books about Mayberry that are perfect for reading during these cold winter months.  Just get a nice warm mug of coffee or cocoa, sit in your rocker or on a comfy sofa next to a toasty fire, throw an afghan around you, and sit back and read interesting things about Mayberry.

The Andy Griffith ShowIf 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 even got a variety of Mayberry and pop culture cookbooks, too.

Mayberry Postmark Notecards
by Mike Johnson

MikeJohnsonPostmarksMayberry Notecards

Mike Johnson’s artwork is a reflection of his love and reverence for small-town life and The Andy Griffith Show. With his Mayberry Postmarks notecard set he has used scenes that are inspired by the show, but not actually of the show itself.

Each set contains 10 notecards (and 10 envelopes) with each having a different pen & ink drawing that will spread the Mayberry spirit to those who receive them. Write your own note inside the card to complete that personal connection with family and friends. Perfect for writing those belated holiday thank-you notes to Aunt Nora and Uncle Ollie! (“Oh boy… tube socks!”)


Two More Favorite Sweatshirts

Just right for the cooler temperatures coming up with the change of seasons, two of our most popular T-shirt designs are available in sweatshirts!

FloydSweatshirtFloyd’s Barbershop Sweatshirt

As Floyd might say, “Every sweatshirt is a walking testimonial.”

And our other new sweatshirt (below) will allow you to show your Mayberry Union High spirit and pride right on through the cold weather.  Let others know that you are worthy of being in Barney “Scoop” Fife’s “Pickups and Splashes from Floor and Pool” sports column in the school paper.

PropertySweatshirtProperty of Mayberry Union High Sweatshirt

And we have  sweatshirts and hoodies in two other popular designs: Mayberry Choppers and Mayberry Union High.

As always, we also have lots of T-shirts, too.  Three dozen designs, in fact! Most of our adult-sized T-shirts are only $20.  (A few designs are $18, and the Lawmen all-over design is $25.)  A couple of designs also come in Toddler sizes.  And we have caps, Goober beanies , books, CDs, DVDs, collectibles, tin signs and items for vehicles online at weaversdepartmentstore.com. (Or just go to www.imayberry.com and click on one of the orange and blue Weaver’s buttons at the top.)

Thank you for shopping at Weaver’s, whose sales not only enable TAGSRWC to provide the content for its websites, online newsletters (including the one you’re reading!) and podcasts for free, but also support a wide variety of Mayberry events and efforts around the country throughout the year.


**** Chapter News ****

Lots of chapters had gatherings large and small during the holidays, including Barney chapter (Greensboro, N.C.), which has perhaps the longest-running string of chapter Christmas celebrations.

A favorite activity at chapter Christmas parties is to exchange Mayberry-related gifts.  The Barney chapter has been doing this for over two decades and has a rule that there can’t be any repeats of the same item through the years, which makes thinking of a gift a really fun challenge!

Here are group photos of two chapters showing their Mayberry holiday gifts:

HAPPY BUNCH–Members of “Blood Brothers” chapter (Macon, Mo.) pose with some of their holiday bounty.


OUTTA THE WAY, SUNDAY DRIVER!”–Members of Mayberry chapter (Knoxville, Tenn.) with their fun items from their party.


“Blood Brothers” also filed this report about their activities:

“Since we began two years ago, our chapter has tripled in membership! Several folks couldn’t attend due to illness or other commitments, but we still had a great turnout. We began our afternoon with a Sunday lunch of Mrs. Foster’s Chicken à la King. (Thank goodness it didn’t taste like wallpaper paste!) We then had a short business meeting where we discussed upcoming Mayberry events, such as Mayberry Days and the Cruise to Mayberry 12 and set the date for our summer BBQ.  Next we enjoyed 12 song selections from TAGS, which included ‘Low and Lonely,’ ‘Salty Dog’ and ‘There Is A Time.'”

And they sent this additional photo from their holiday gathering:

COME FISH COME!–In case you don’t recognize this “Blood Brothers” game, it’s “Merry Fishmas.” At least there don’t seem to be any actual fishin’ worms involved (“Ick!”).


Not ever to be under-represented in press coverage, Mayberry chapter also supplied the photo below from their annual participation in the Christmas parade in their nearby community of Karns. And their giant, thrice-annual Mayberry Minutes newsletter is being mailed this month. They also celebrated Maggie Peterson’s birthday (including cake!) as the featured activity of their first chapter meeting of 2017.  They have group activities scheduled for every month of the year.

SPREADING THE MAYBERRY JOY–The Mayberry chapter contingent (and opposite ends of two of the chapter’s Mayberry squad car replicas) at December’s parade in Karns, Tenn.


Goober’s Auto Dismantling (West Frankfort, Ill.), Foley’s Market (Farmingt0n, Mo.) and Remembering Mayberry (Chillicothe, Ohio) rendezvoused in Nashville and met up with members of the local Andy chapter for a Morelli’s-style meal and a show.

Mavis Neff chapter (Durham, N.C.) and “Flibbertigibbet!” (Albuquerque, N.M.) also included TAGSRWC’s HQ city in their holiday travels and meal plans.

We’re as young as we feel!

The Mayberry Mainstreeters (Horsham, Penn.) recently celebrated 30 years of being an active TAGSRWC chapter.  Suddenly, some of us are starting to feel really old.  (“We’re no spring chickens anymore!”) Here’s to the next 30!

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. All the news that fits, we print!


Odd Facts Known by  Few (Or Fun in the Garage on a Snowy Day)

MeTV is giving TV Land a run for its title as the unofficial network provider of fun things to know about TAGS.  Here are links to two recent posts.

That’s a lot of eyeballs!

* 36.9 Billion–That’s how many minutes of TAGS rerun watching happened during 2016!  That’s according to calculations by Michael Mulvihill of Fox Sports, as reported by MeTV.  To that, we say, “That’s a good start!”  That number brought in TAGS as the 60th most-watched show on Planet Earth in 2016, based on Mulvihill’s analysis of Nielsen ratings.

Keep in mind that these figures include all of the current TV hits and other shows that are still in production, shows like “CNN Newsroom,” “NCIS,” and “Big Bang Theory.”  And these figures don’t count all of the countless hours of TAGS watching that the world’s population does with DVDs.  (“CNN Newsroom” and “Today” are sure to lose to TAGS in that ranking!)

It just goes to show that, way back in 1979 when a name was being selected for our club, deciding to include Rerun Watchers in the name proved to be “not so dumb” after all!  More than 36.9 years later, Michael Mulvihill has counted 36.9 billion reasons why!

TUBA OR NOT TUBA–This is our staff’s favorite of the TAGS details spotted by MeTV’s staff.

* 11 Tiny Errors in TAGS–A lot of “trained noticers” have observed some of these inconsistencies, bloopers and otherwise interesting observations  over the years, but a  couple of these were new to us.  We think they’re pretty darned cool.

DON’T HAVE A TANTRUM–You don’t have to hold your breath any longer in order to find out all about the name Opie.

* And here’s one more interesting interesting item.  This one’s not from MeTV, but from Roger Schlueter, the “Answer Man” columnist for the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat.

Roger periodically has tidbits relating to Mayberry. This recent column has as thorough a discussion of the name Opie and how Andy Taylor’s son came to be called that as any we’ve seen in one place.  So, read up and get the full scoop on Opie’s origins.



**** Mayberry on the Web ****

imayberrycommunityThe 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 classic installments you’ve missed. (As of the third week in January, there have been 409 episodes since Allan started the podcasts in 2008.)

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.  And you’ll also find links there to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts: Burke on Mayberry (hosted by TAGSRWC’s Kevin Burke) and the Mayberry Bible Study Podcast (hosted by Allan Newsome).

The original Mayberry Facebook!

TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook now has over 241,000 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 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.

And don’t forget: Ben Weaver has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. Check it for the latest 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 March, and the next Weaver’s Newsletter is on deck for February.