An Online Newsletter of
“The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Welcome to our third issue in this 60th anniversary year for TAGS!
As the worldwide coronavirus pandemic continues to make these times challenging, virtually all of this Spring’s Mayberry-related events were either postponed or canceled altogether. Ironically, these trying times make us appreciate the appeal of Mayberry all the more!
See the Event Calendar immediately below for the latest updates as of the time we published this edition. And we’ll also continually update the freestanding version of the Event Calendar at www.tagsrwc.com.
Here’s to looking forward to a time when fans can once again gather in large groups to celebrate Mayberry. In the meantime, we can all be thankful for the Internet and social media to keep us in touch. Likewise, TAGS itself continues to give us the same shared connection it always has. We can still watch our favorite reruns and stay tuned to all the joys of Mayberry!
The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest’s monumental collection of Andy Griffith artifacts, has reopened as of May 16!
Please note that the Museum has more than just Barney’s Two Rules at the Rock. Rules at the Museum include:
A. Only 10 visitors at a time; 2. everyone must wear a mask (bring your own or come prepared to buy one for $5.35); C. wear gloves if you’re planning to use the Museum’s touch screens; 4. have a credit/debit card or exact change for payment.
For complete updates on operating hours, safety procedures, or other info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
Here are some other happenings (and would-be happenings) that have been posted:
Mar. 28: RESCHEDULED DATE TBA: LeRoy “Mack” McNees and Roland White will be on hand for a star-studded Induction Celebration at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Ky., to toast them (as members of The Kentucky Colonels) and their fellow honorees who last September were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. For more info, visit www.bluegrasshall.org.
* May 3-31: The Month of Mayberry on MeTV. The channel kicked off its month of Mayberry programming on May 3 with episodes of TAGS, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and “Mayberry R.F.D.” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET/PT. Weekdays beginning May 4, MeTV is showing TAGS from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. followed by “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” The channel will also be showing color TAGS episodes paired with “Mayberry R.F.D.” beginning at 7 a.m. They’ll be followed at 10 a.m. by episodes of “Matlock” featuring TAGS stars (in addition to Andy!). (Episodes of “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Love Boat” will also feature episodes with Mayberry actors all month long. It all wraps up with the Return to Mayberry reunion movie on May 31. Check you local MeTV listings for more details.
June 5 and 6: Dixie Griffith (Andy’s daughter) and bluegrass-comedy favorites the VW Boys and raucous country band Confederate Railroad are scheduled for the Annual Mule Day and Chickenfest in Gordo, Ala. For more info, visit www.gordoareachamber.com.
* June 13: LeRoy “Mack” McNees (the Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee who performed with the Country Boys in two episodes) and Keith Thibodeaux (Mayberry’s Johnny Paul Jason and Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy”) are special guests for the grand opening of the Mayberry-“I Love Lucy” Museum in historic Granville, Tenn. (This event was postponed from its original date of Apr. 18.)
NOTE: Rodney Dillard had to cancel his appearance because of health-related travel restrictions. (No getting back on the truck for a while.) Fortunately, Rodney’s buddy LeRoy Mack was available to pinch-hit for him.
In presentations throughout the day, LeRoy and Keith will separately share stories, greet fans, and perform music. Festivities begin at 9:00 a.m. and include a ribbon-cutting at 9:30 a.m., guided tours of historic Sutton Home, a genealogy festival, cornbread & moonshine festival, vintage car cruise-in, tribute artists, Pioneer Village with “craftsmen of yesteryear,” Mayberry-style music (in addition to featured star performances by LeRoy Mack at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and by Keith Thibodeaux at Noon and 2 p.m.), and assorted down-home eating options, including the Sutton Ole Time Music Hour, which includes two options for a dinner seating (5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) and a show (the LeRoy Mack concert at 6:00 p.m. and a bluegrass band TBA at 7:00.) Call 1-931-653-4151 for dinner/show reservations.
Check the Historic Granville website at www.granvilletn.com for additional info and updates.
* June 19 (tentative): Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have 8 x 10 photos available for autographing ($10). NOTE: Because of evolving policies and protocols with the pandemic, before visiting, you’ll want to confirm that Betty is still scheduled. Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 19: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn. Cover charge of $15.
* June 20: Karen Knotts brings her Tied Up in Knotts stage show to the Blue Gate Music Hall in Shipshewana, Ind., at 8 p.m. Tickets are $37.95 for dinner and the show and $19.95 for show only. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., dinner service is at 7:00 p.m., and the show is at 8:00 p.m. For tickets and info, visit www.thebluegate.com.
* July 11 and 12: Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band headline the IBMA -award-winning Frankfort Bluegrass Festival in Frankfort, Ill. The official schedule for the weekend is TBA. For info, visit www.frankfortbluegrassfest.com.
* July 17: (still tentative) Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have 8 x 10 photos available for autographing ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 17-19: 8th Annual Mayberry Meet-Up in Mount Airy, N.C. This gathering is a great chance to visit with fellow Mayberry fans and enjoy Mount Airy during a less hectic time than September’s Mayberry Days® festival. You’ll have plenty of time to tour the Andy Griffith Museum at your leisure, have a shorter wait in line at the Snappy Lunch, and browse the shops on Main Street without the big crowds.
The event is timed to coincide with Betty Lynn’s July meet-and-greet at the Andy Griffith Museum on Friday and Neal Brower’s lecture at the museum on Saturday. As always, the grounds at Mayberry Motor Inn serve as the gathering place in the evening, but folks are encouraged to tour the town on their own during the day.
There’s an online registration form, which helps organizers plan for how many folks to expect, but registered or not, everyone is welcome, even to drop by just on a whim. Y’all come!
* July 18: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents the first of two summertime Professor Brower’s Lectures about “The Andy Griffith Show” with a discussion of the “Hot Rod Otis” episode, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with Andy Griffith Museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and under). Visit www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 14: Karen Knotts brings her Tied Up in Knotts stage show to the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, Calif. (This is a show that was originally postponed from both Mar. 20 and Apr. 14 because of the coronavirus.) Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $21.99 (including all fees). For more info, visit Brown Paper Tickets.
* Aug. 15: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents this summer’s final Professor Brower’s Lecture about “The Andy Griffith Show” with a discussion of the “The Bookie Barber” episode, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with Andy Griffith Museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and under). Visit www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 21: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have 8 x 10 photos available for autographing ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 18: Beat the Mayberry Days® rush and see Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) as she greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have 8 x 10 photos available for autographing ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 21-27: 31st Annual Mayberry Days® in Mount Airy, N.C. Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Special guests already confirmed include Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Darling boy Rodney Dillard & the Dillard Band, Ronnie Schell (two Mayberry roles and Duke Slater on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”), Joy Ellison (Effie Muggins, Mary Wiggins and others) and Karen Knotts (daughter of Don Knotts).
There’s also the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament (aka The Emmett), the popular Professor Brower’s Lecture, Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis” and performances by T. Graham Brown, Collin Raye, James Gregory (“the funniest man in America”), “Mayberry Melodies” (a musical revue of tunes from TAGS), The Embers, Motown Revue, Band of Oz, and John Floyd (“the Mouth of Mayberry.”) More guest stars TBA. Get your tickets early for the best seats to what promises to be a banner year for Mayberry Days!
Also, don’t delay in reserving your hotel rooms either. Most local hotels are now ready to take your room reservations for Mayberry Days®.
Tickets for Mayberry Days® are available online for several of the festival’s events at www.mayberrydays.org. (And much of the festival is free and doesn’t require a ticket.)
More than ever, this is one Mayberry celebration no Mayberry fan wants to miss!
* Sept. 30-Oct. 3: Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band perform at the 10th Annual John Hartford Memorial Festival in Bean Blossom, Ind. The schedule is TBA. For info, visit www.hartfordfest.com.
* Oct. 3: 60th Anniversary of the airing of the first episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
* Nov. 1-7: Clint Howard is the Special Guest for Cruise to Mayberry 15 to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Carnival’s Breeze. Also including a boatload of popular Mayberry tribute artists and even an Elvis.
The cruise departs from of Ft. Lauderdale and makes stops in Nassau, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk and has two fun days at sea. For info, contact Sharon Euliss of All About Cruises at PWESJE@aol.com or call her at (336) 538-4926.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard is currently directing a documentary about José Andrés, the World Central Kitchen chef who does amazing outreach feeding people in times of crisis–from earthquakes to wild fires to the current pandemic. Co-produced with Ron’s Imagine Entertainment, the documentary is being made for National Geographic Documentary Films, for which Ron also directed Rebuilding Paradise, during the filming of which Ron first saw Chef Andrés and his team in action.
Ron is also an executive producer of “Genius,” the Nat Geo series whose third season about Aretha Franklin has been delayed because of the pandemic.
As with most productions in Hollywood right now, the square wheels are also on Ron’s development with George Lucas of a “Willow” TV series based on the 1988 film, which Ron also directed for Lucas. The series is being developed for potential use by the Disney Plus channel.
Ron’s Hillbilly Elegy has been completed and is currently expected for release by Netflix in November.
Ron has signed to direct The Fixer, a movie based on a true story about a CIA-related/Chicago mob-linked plot to kill Fidel Castro during the Cold War. Ron’s Imagine Entertainment is also a producer for the film for Paramount Pictures.
And Ron is set to direct Thirteen Lives, a film about the famous cave rescue of a group of boys and their soccer coach in Thailand in 2018. Imagine’s interest in a film adaption of Mad Magazine‘s iconic Spy vs. Spy comic also appears to once again be finding its way to the production front burner.
Meanwhile, Imagine Documentaries co-produced Dads, a “joyful exploration of contemporary fatherhood” directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron and wife Cheryl’s eldest child. Ron is interviewed in the film and talks about his own father, Rance, and fatherhood in Mayberry. Other well-known stars are also interviewed in the film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and will have its worldwide release on June 19, the Friday preceding Father’s Day on Apple TV+.
Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) continues to hunker down at home like everybody else. She reports that she’s doing just fine. Her next scheduled appearance to greet fans and sign autographs at the Andy Griffith Museum would be June 19th. We’re still listing that date on our Event Calendar (see above), but an official determination about her participation will be made closer to that date.
Rodney Dillard (the guitar-playing Darling boy) and his current Dillards band released their new single, “Earthman” on April 22 (Earth Day). The timely tune has been well received by fans and music critics and is available at all the usual places for downloading songs.
Rodney has been juggling his schedule as some festivals figure out new dates for their events. Depending on his doctor’s travel restrictions on him in treatment of an infection in both ears, Rodney has one festival and two in September (including Mayberry Days) with his full band. See the Event Calendar above for details.
Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Charlene Darling) continues to recover well at home from recent health setbacks. She has once again expressed appreciation to all who have provided assistance through the GoFundMe page set up (and still active!) to help out with the considerable uncovered medical bills she has been incurring during the past year. Maggie posted this message earlier this month:
“Words could never express my gratitude to all my Friends and Fans. You have touched my heart with your generous support. Thank you! The kindness and best wishes sent my way have had the desired effect. I am getting better. My ankle is healing well, and I am building strength every day.”
Maggie adds, “My shoulders continue to cause me great problems and I have little use of my arms. Surgery could be the next step. Your generosity has provided home health care and help with medical bills, which has allowed me to move back to our house. Being with Gus is a blessing. After being away for four months, there is truly no place like home. And it is all because of you. God bless you.” All we can add is, that’s our Darling person!
Newlyweds Margaret Kerry (Mayberry’s Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) and Bob Boeke are almost completely settled in to their new home in Florida after her move from California and his from South Carolina. You can be sure they’ll be busting out and making Disney- and Mayberry-related appearances (and who knows what-all!) just as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so.
Depending on restrictions on travel and gatherings related to the coronavirus, some filming of the Mayberry Man movie might begin in Indiana later this summer. The other key location for filming is expected to be in and around Mount Airy during Mayberry Days in September.
Several TAGS actors (and their children) are expected to appear in the movie, which is being spearheaded by Stark and Cort Howell (sons of Hoke Howell, Mayberry’s Dud Wash) and Greg Schell, son of Ronnie Schell (two TAGS episodes and Duke Slater on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”). The film, which has been funded largely by donations from fans (some of whom will also have onscreen appearances), is still expected to be released as originally planned sometime in 2021.
That’s all for our News of Cast & Crew for this issue. Stay tuned for more updates as activities hopefully get back to a more typical pace soon!
Though Forrest was never on TAGS, he had strong Mayberry ties. He played base commander Col. Edward Gray in 39 episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” (and Capt. Brinson in two earlier episodes) and he played the character Biddleton in “Millie, the Model,” during the second season of “Mayberry R.F.D.” in 1969.
Forrest Starr Compton was born in Reading, Penn., on September 15, 1925, as the only child of Estella and Harry Compton, who sold pots and pans for an aluminum company and later was a chemist for a steel mill. After high school, Forrest joined the Army and served in the 103rd Infantry Division in France during World War II. He was wounded in the leg by a mortar during the first combat he saw in Alsace. He recovered and rejoined his unit on the front lines.
After the ware, enrolled at Swarthmore College with the idea of going to law school. His participation in theater productions at a summer resort and in college changed his thinking. With a bachelor’s degree in English in hand, he joined the esteemed Drama school at Yale University, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree and was a classmate of Paul Newman.
Not content with his first film work in TV commercials (his first being an ad for Tavern Blue Cheese Crackers), Forrest moved to Los Angeles in 1957. His Hollywood career began with a one-episode role in the TV Western “The Gray Ghost,” which starred Tod Andrews (Inspector Ralph Case and Mr. Franklin on TAGS) and Phil Chambers (recurring hotel clerk Jason on TAGS).
Another early role was as Connell in “American U-Boat III” a 1958 episode of “Navy Log,” a series that reenacted events of World War II based on Defense Department records and that included a Who’s Who of character actors and future stars seen in Mayberry and elsewhere.
A slew of TV Westerns (including “Death Valley Days,” “Johnny Ringo” and”Fury”) followed in the late 1950s, followed by portrayals of authority figures (mostly military and law enf0rcement officers and the occasional medical professional) in the 1960s. Among the series in which he appeared are “Route 66,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “The Twilight Zone” (“The Thirty-Fathom Grave”), “The Fugitive” and “My Three Sons.”
The height of Forrest’s work in prime-time TV was from 1964 to 1973, which included not only his 41 episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” but also six episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes” and 10 episodes of “The F.B.I.”
But Forrest found his most sustained work in daytime dramas, especially “The Edge of Night,” which was filmed in New York City and for which he played Detective Mike Karr from 1971 to 1984.
Forrest had minor roles in two movies: The Outsider (starring Tony Curtis) in 1961 and as President Flynn in McBain (starring Christopher Walken) in 1991. His final film roles before retiring in 2002 were as two characters in three episodes of the highly regarded TV series “Ed” in 2001 and 2002.
Forrest met Jeanne Sementini in 1975. They were married later that year. He was 50 and she was 40. It was the first marriage for both. They had no children. In 1978, the couple bought a house in the Mayberry-ish Ram Island section on Shelter Island, in the shadow of Long Island’s Hamptons. They began living there full-time in 2002, which coincided with his retirement, which in turn coincided with his having heart bypass surgery.
The couple were “dog people” and active in the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. According to a 2o19 interview in The Shelter Island Reporter, Forrest enjoyed playing tennis and eating chocolate ice cream, two things that may have flavored his optimistic attitude about life.
In that same 2019 interview, Forrest reflected, “Despite what is happening in this country now, people overall are kind–the goodness in most people is there,” he said. “There are more good people than ones who are selfish and self-serving. It’s been true in my life, and I think in most people’s lives.”
Wise and compassionate words–worthy of Colonel Gray.
Forrest Compton is survived by wife Jeanne and a large community of friends and grateful fans, who proudly salute a life well lived.
**** Chapter Update ****
We have had one new chapter start since the March eBullet:
Mayberry in The Villages The Villages, Fla.
Welcome! (We always knew it takes The Villages!) This newest group brings us to 1,467 chapters founded since TAGSRWC started in 1979.
If you’re interested in organizing a group, you’ll be glad to know that starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really simple to do. Just pick a name that hasn’t already been selected by another group and let us know who your founders are and where you’re based. That’s it.
You can check the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com. Then submit your chapter’s 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).
**** Merchandise Update ****
And there’s more! We have Caps, Goober Beanies, Deputy Patches, and both Mayberry Sheriff and Mayberry Deputy Badges. And don’t forget that Weaver’s also has two styles of cool bandanas (22 in. x 22 in.) that can be fashioned to make your own protective Mayberry mask. What could make your face feel safer than a Barney bandana?!
Also, remember that your purchases from Weaver’s 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. As always, thanks for browsing Weaver’s!
**** Chapter News ****
Most chapters have been staying close to home and obeying all rules, so there haven’t been any gatherings to report. And with events, including this month’s popular Mayberry in the Midwest festival, being canceled, gatherings of multiple chapters and fans at large have been nipped in the bud.
We’re all hoping for safe opportunities to gather again soon. (July’s annual Mayberry Meet-Up in in Mount Airy, N.C., is one of the first on the horizon.) In the meantime, MeTV’s “Month of Mayberry” is offering us fans a sense of community in being able to watch special episodes of TAGS and other Mayberry-related programming at the same time as other fans all month long.
At least one chapter has found an outlet for keeping their Mayberry mojo going while sheltering at home during the pandemic. Blood Brothers (Macon, Mo.) has a sub-chapter they call their Mayberry Card Guild, which makes Mayberry-esque greeting cards, Members Sarah and Tim Clarke made 50 Easter cards that they delivered to a local nursing home. And member Lola Rist made gift bags of greeting cards that she donated to nursing home residents. It’s just the Mayberry way to spread a little sunshine every day!
Keith Brown (aka Col. Harvey) and his Trivial Trivialities chapter (Pawleys Island, S.C.) have created the Mayberry Quarantine Trivia 2020, a fun online test of Mayberry trivia with different achievement levels to rate proficiency. Think of it as sort of a home-school way to challenge your Mayberry trivia skills. For each level you pass, you even receive a virtual graduation certificate. Find the test with a search on Facebook. (And MeTV has a fun quiz going on this month, too.)
That’s our Chapter News for this issue. If you have news or photos of your chapter activities that you would like to share with The eBullet, please send your updates to Goober@imayberry.com.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome with 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. Recent installments 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 ones you’ve missed. (As of this week, there have been 582 episodes since Allan started the podcasts in 2008.).
And you’ll also find links on our Podcasts web page to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts: Burke on Mayberry (also a long-running program, hosted by TAGSRWC’s Kevin Burke) and the Mayberry Bible Study Podcast (another one hosted by Allan Newsome).
TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook now has over 250,000 Mayberry 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 ****
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.
TAGSRWC publishes Weaver’s Newsletter (our brother-figure publication) in alternate months to The eBullet. Like The eBullet, Weaver’s Newsletter is free. Its focus is tilted slightly more to Mayberry merchandise and collectibles and quick newsflashes. It has some content overlap with The eBullet–sometimes earlier and sometimes later, depending on the timing of the news. To sign up, go to Weaver’s Newsletter Sign-Up.
The next regularly scheduled issue of The eBullet will be published in July. The next Weaver’s Newsletter is set for June.