An Online Newsletter of
“The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Welcome to the January eBullet, our first issue for 2021!
Watching TAGS proved to be an especially comforting escape from the stresses of 2020, and after the way 2021 has started, Mayberry may be an even more vital source of healing and diversion for us fans this year.
With a little discipline, faith in science and good old-fashioned common sense, maybe we’ll fairly soon be able to gather in person more like we did before the pandemic. Maybe at least by Mayberry Days® in September.
In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and keep on watching TAGS and enjoying Mayberry, whether through social media or wearing a favorite Mayberry sweatshirt while eating Mayberry’s Finest ™ pickles and perhaps reading a new Mayberry-related book!
The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest’s amazing collection of Andy Griffith artifacts, is open!
Please note that the Museum has more than just Barney’s Two Rules at The Rock. With North Carolina pausing in its modified Phase 3 of pandemic protocols, the Museum’s Rules include: Only 25 visitors at a time, everyone must wear a mask (bring your own or come prepared to buy one for $5.35), wear gloves if you’re planning to use the Museum’s touch screens, and 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 a few events already on the calendar for next year:
* Sept. 20-26: 32nd Annual Mayberry Days® in Mount Airy, N.C. Special Guests confirmed so far include Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) and Rodney Dillard (guitar-playing Darling boy).
Tickets are already available HERE for some concerts and presentations, including Collin Raye (actually on Sept. 18, the Sat. before Mayberry Days® week), two shows (one as part of the banquet for the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament, aka The Emmett) by T. Graham Brown, The Doug Dillard Tribute Show by The Dillards featuring Rodney Dillard, Professor Brower’s Lecture with Neal Brower, Tim White and Troublesome Hollow’s “Tribute to Mayberry,” Allen Leath’s “Mayberry Melodies,” Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis” and Colonel Tim’s Talent Time.
Other concert highlights during the week include The Embers featuring Craig Woolard, Legacy Motown Revue, The Band of Oz and James Gregory (“The Funniest Man in America”).
Much more TBA, but for now, other than these first confirmed presentations, just mark your calendar and be sure to check back for updates.
* Oct. 31-Nov. 6: Clint Howard is the special guest for Mayberry Cruise 15, which was postponed with a few tweaks from its original dates in 2020. This cruise aboard Carnival’s Freedom will depart from Fort Lauderdale and travel to the Eastern Caribbean with ports of call in Princess Cays in the Bahamas, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove, the new Carnival-owned village in the Dominican Republic. Rates (including all taxes) start at $625 per person.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
On the heels of of November’s releases of both Rebuilding Paradise (a documentary for National Geographic) and Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix), Ron Howard is now busy directing a documentary (again for National Geographic) about Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen charity.
Ron is also in pre-production on his next directing project, Thirteen Lives, a film based on the cave rescue of a boys’ soccer team in Thailand, which captivated the world in 2018. The film is set to begin shooting in Australia in March.
The “Willow” TV series for Disney+, one of many projects for which Ron is serving as executive producer, is also in pre-production. Ron is expected to direct at least one early episode before turning his attention to directing one of several more movies in the queue at Imagine Entertainment.
Ron was scheduled to be inducted into the Duncan Area Hall of Fame in his hometown of Duncan, Okla., this month, but the gala ceremony has been postponed until next January because of the pandemic.
Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) is still hunkering down in Mount Airy. She reports that she’s doing well and had a nice holiday season. She’s eager to resume her meet-and-greets with fans at the Andy Griffith Museum, but that likely won’t happen until next summer, at the earliest.
Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Charlene Darling) and husband Gus have moved into an assisted living facility, which will hopefully allow her to have even steadier progress in her recovery from recent surgeries. Even so, she was wistful about leaving the home she has lived in since shortly after her time on TAGS.
Maggie’s GoFundMe page, which Maggie’s family set up to help with some of Maggie’s significant and uncovered medical expenses, is still active. (It has so far reached 60% of its goal.) Maggie is extremely grateful for all of the kind donations received.
NEWSFLASH: Just as we were getting ready to publish this issue, we got word from Maggie’s nephew Ben that both Maggie and Gus have tested positive for COVID-19. Maggie was having significant symptoms and was hospitalized on January 7 for treatment with antivirals and other specialized care. She’s responding well to the treatments, and it’s hoped that in a few days she’ll be able to transfer to a rehab facility to regain her strength before returning home. Please continue to keep Maggie in your prayers!
Tied Up in Knotts, the memoirs of Karen Knotts (daughter of Don) has been officially announced by her publisher. The plan is for it to be available in time for Mayberry Days® in September.
George Lindsey Jr. has released a new CD with three songs. (It’s not available at our Weaver’s Department Store, but autographed copies of his previous Goobason Sings CD of silly songs are newly available at our online store.)
George also has shared the sad news of the passing of his and sister Camden’s mom (George Lindsey‘s ex-wife), Azasha J. Lindsey of complications from Alzheimer’s on August 12. She was 84.
Mayberry’s About to Get Reel!
The Mayberry Man movie, written and directed by Stark Howell and produced by Cort Howell (both sons of Hoke Howell, aka Mayberry’s Dud Wash) and co-produced by Greg Schell (son of Ronnie Schell), is now in the final stages of editing and other post-production work, and Stark and his team are pleased with how all the pieces have come together.
Depending on the status of the pandemic and other considerations, initial screenings are planned for this spring. The premiere is tentatively slated for Danville’s Mayberry in the Midwest festival, which is expected (but not yet officially confirmed) for May. Further avenues of distribution are also being pursued.
That’s a wrap on our News of Cast & Crew for this issue. Stay tuned for lots more in 2020!
We’re sad to report the passing of Mike Fenton, a casting director for TAGS and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” He died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on December 30. He was 85.
Ronald Michael Fenton was born in Los Angeles in 1935, With an eye on becoming a cinematographer, Mike earned a B.A. degree in Theater and Motion Picture Arts from UCLA in 1956. His career started in the mailroom at MCA, followed by work as an agent at top talent agencies for a few years. Mike then joined the casting department at Paramount Pictures, where he worked from 1963 to 1965, before leaving to work as an assistant to Sheldon Leonard during the 1965-66 season of TAGS and for the pilot episode of “That Girl.”
By the start of the following television season, Mike and business partner Fred Roos were serving as casting directors for TAGS, “I Spy,” a few episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and other shows in the Sheldon Leonard/Danny Thomas production orbit, including “Accidental Family” and “Good Morning World.” They also worked on “Rango,” which starred Tim Conway and was produced by TAGS writers Harvey Bullock and Ray Allen.
Sometimes working together and sometimes dividing casting duties among their many projects (for example, Fred Roos served as solo casting director for the first two seasons of “Mayberry R.F.D.”), the dynamic duo of Fenton and Roos were on their way to becoming Hollywood casting legends. Mike also partnered with other casting giants of the last 50 years including Jane Feinberg and Judy Taylor. More recently, he had joined forces in an agency with Ann Frederick.
A partial list of Mike’s numerous casting credits includes some of the most notable films for some of the most talented directors of all time, including Chinatown, American Graffiti, Shampoo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Poltergeist, The Godfather Part II, Norma Rae, A Christmas Story, Back to the Future (and its sequels), E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark (and sequels), Beaches, Aliens, Blade Runner, Footloose, History of the World, Part I and Young Frankenstein. Showing the depth of his range, Mike also helped cast 2014’s Sharknado 2: The Second One.
In a statement, Mike’ good friend and frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg said, “Working with Mike Fenton was like working in a candy store–he made casting a blast. His fervent support of actors was the stuff of legend, and after landing a part, any actor’s smile was rarely as wide as Mike’s. He didn’t just support actors, he launched crusades. And he was a pretty good actor himself, as he would always read off-camera dialogue to create energy and mojo for the person reading for the part. Much like the actors for whom he advocated, Mike loved his role–and those around him loved him so much, and I will miss him dearly.”
In 1982, Mike co-founded the Casting Society of America. In 1989, he received the group’s Hoyt Bowers Award for lifetime achievement. His casting work after that recognition could be an entire distinguished career for most people. Casting work after 1989 included Bird on a Wire, Arachnophobia, Total Recall, Chaplin, Honeymoon in Vegas, Dante’s Peak and Toy Story, among dozens of others.
Mike was nominated for the CSA’s Artios award 11 times and won twice, in 1996 and 2000.
In his spare time, Mike was an avid runner. He even founded a Santa Monica-based running club in the 1980s called Flying Squirrels.
By all accounts, Mike Fenton was more than just highly respected in his profession and personal life. He was genuinely beloved by all who knew him. TAGS fans can be proud that such a talented and nice person was involved in shaping the characters of Mayberry during its later years.
Mike’s survivors include his wife, Irene, son Mick from his first marriage to Janet Monfort, who preceded him in death in the 41st year of their marriage, and two grandchildren.
Editor’s Note: Mike received The Bullet and TAGSRWC’s subsequent printed fliers for most of the years they were produced through 2015. He had fond memories of working on Mayberry-related shows. And yes, you can be sure that we asked him if he happened to remember who played the elusive Mr. Schwamp. As with the countless others that we’ve asked, he unfortunately didn’t have any information that could help solve that tenacious mystery.
**** Chapter Update ****
We haven’t had any new chapters start since the November eBullet. We’re holding at our current total of 1,468 chapters founded since TAGSRWC began in 1979.
Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do. Just pick a name that hasn’t already been selected by another group. You can check the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com. Then submit your chapter’s name with your location and 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). That’s all it takes!
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 or any of several exclusively online chapters on Facebook and, more recently, MeWe (see Mayberry on the Web below).
**** Merchandise Update ****
Didn’t get that special Mayberry item you were hoping for for Christmas? Or just want more fun (or delicious) Mayberry items? Well, our Weaver’s Department Store® is the odds-on best bet for having just what you want!
We have a few brand new items even since our last issue. Here are some favorites:
We’re really excited to offer some brand new Mayberry’s Finest ™ brand products to the popular gourmet coffees and country bacon that Weaver’s already carries. We’re so fired up that you might even say we’re “pickled tink.” Did somebody say pickles? Yep, that’s right. Somebody finally did it…they’re making Mayberry pickles!
Fortunately, these are good ol’ store-bought pickles (it even says so right on the label). Delicious hamburger dill chips to put it precisely. We’re proud to be able to ship these everywhere from Oregon to Nova Scotia. And best of all, you won’t have to learn to love ’em like Aunt Bee’s “kerosene cucumbers.” No, these are more like Clara’s blue-ribbon pickles–just as flavorsome as can be.
And you know if there’s canning going on in Mayberry, then the next thing to come after pickles has to be preserves (or at least jams). Fortunately, Mayberry’s Finest ™ has steered clear of marmalade that smells like paint. Instead they’ve created some truly outstanding Blackberry, Strawberry and Peach jams. You’ll be tempted to eat them by the spoonful right out of the jar, but we think you’ll find that they’re even better on biscuits and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
In any case, Mayberry’s Finest ™ is now hitting on all cylinders with a great lineup of food items. And more products are in the works for 2021. Weaver’s is proud to be the online retail partner for these wonderful, official “Andy Griffith Show” gourmet foods from Mayberry’s Finest ™.
Miss Crump’s Reading List
Here are three books about Mayberry that were published (or re-published) in 2020. Read up because more great Mayberry-related books are expected in 2021!
60 Years of Mayberry
A Celebration of The Andy Griffith Show
This collection of essays, recollections, and reflections in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the debut of “The Andy Griffith Show” includes writings from:
- Dixie Griffith – Andy Griffith’s daughter
- George Lindsey Jr. – George “Goober” Lindsey’s son
- Bruce Bilson – Assistant Director of TAGS
- LeRoy McNees – Musical guest star on TAGS
- Sean Dietrich – Author and “Sean of the South” podcast creator
- * Allan Newsome – Floyd the barber tribute artist and host of the “Two Chairs, No Waiting” podcast
- Tim Bradshaw – Author and Mayberry fan
- Chris Grewe – Pastor and devoted TAGS fan
- Randy Turner – Author and Mayberry historian
The 188-page softcover book is filled with wonderful memories from fans, family members of the show’s stars, an instrumental performer and a key behind-the-scenes crew member.
A Compendium of Historical Essays on the
Classic Television Series (Revised)
Mayberry Firsts, written by Randy Turner, is a collection of short-form essays. Each essay makes us aware of the “first” time something happened in Mayberry, but it isn’t just a checklist of events. Each “first” is used as a springboard to dive deeper into the series and present fun and interesting facts about The Andy Griffith Show in the process.
This completely revised 2nd edition of the softcover book includes additional information and more than 20 new photos, all for the same $20 price as the original version.
Have you wondered where the names Mayberry, Opie or Gomer came from? What the names of the Darling boys were as written in the script? Why was Otis written off the series? The answers to these questions and so many more can be found in the 224 pages of Mayberry Firsts.
This 144-page volume ($22.00) is the first comprehensive book totally devoted to “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and Gomer’s portion of the Mayberry universe. Author Denny Reese provides an insider’s look at the show’s creation, Marines history and why “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” ranked high with the service.
An outstanding companion to watching the series, the book includes in-depth reviews of select “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” episodes, bios of the show’s stars and an exclusive interview with Ronnie Schell, who also provided the Foreword.
And looking for that extra-special gift for yourself or a friend? Here’s a top-shelf suggestion:
More than a keepsake, this is a work of art with not one, not two, but three examples of Goober Pyle’s talent. (“Goober, you really got talent.” Just looking at the faces, you can hear Goober’s voice saying, “O.K., you guys. Come on, you guys. All right, you guys. Beat it, you guys.” How can that not bring an instant grin to the face of everyone who sees it?
Not only do you get the wonderful print but you also get an 100% authentic George Lindsey autograph. Each autograph was obtained from George Lindsey by the artist, George Murray. George Lindsey passed away on May 6, 2012. This is a wonderful chance to get his autograph and know that Weaver’s stands behind the authenticity.
Printed with premium inks on archival paper, this 11 x 14 in. collage pencil portrait is also signed by George Murray.
Note: Weaver’s also offers an autographed “Three Faces of Goober” print by George Murray.
**** Chapter News ****
Our TAGSRWC HQ (Andy chapter, Nashville, Tenn.) enjoyed hearing from many chapters from all over the country during the holidays.
Most chapters have been pretty quiet so far this winter (as they also were for most of 2020) as most have been following their local safety protocols during the pandemic. We’ve got just a couple of photos from chapters. They’ll be followed by tributes to two steadfast TAGSRWC members who unfortunately recently passed away.
Remembering Wonderful Friends
With nearly 1,500 TAGSRWC chapters and tens of thousands of members, The eBullet unfortunately is not able to be an adequate forum for reporting each member that we’ve lost through the years, much less for giving them proper tributes. It’s not uncommon that we simply don’t learn the news of someone’s passing until much later, if at all.
But there are times when we quickly receive the sad word about a widely known TAGSRWC member’s passing, and that news instantly rocks a large part of our Mayberry fan community with grief. This has happened twice in just the last three weeks. Below are remembrances of these two cherished Mayberry friends.
TAGSRWC and others far and wide sadly lost a longtime great friend when Jack Fellenzer (co-founder with wife Sue of Mrs. Mendelbright’s Bulb-Snatchers of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Bella Vista, Ark.) passed away from complications of COVID-19 on December 24. He was 74.
Jack was truly a Jack of all trades. His career and interests included engineering, music, car sales, locksmith, electronics and radio repair, and, like Barney, Realtor.
On June 29, 1992, Jack and Sue founded their chapter in Cedar Falls. The chapter quickly grew and for many years was among TAGSRWC’s most active chapters.
In addition, Jack was one of the first fans to create a Mayberry squad car replica. (His was a 1965 Ford Custom.) Typical of Jack’s attention to detail, he wrote to a Ford dealership in North Carolina to get one of their dealership emblems for the back of his car in order to add authenticity to his replica.
Jack was also a “trained noticer.” He was the first person to spot a 1957 North Carolina JL-327 license plate (by far the most common Mayberry squad license plate number on TAGS) in an Atlas Tires ad showing all 50 state license plates in a February 1959 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Jack deduced that that ad (or one of several similar Atlas ads with license plates that ran in the 1950s and early 1960s) was the source material used by the TAGS props department to create the Mayberry squad car plate.
Upon meeting David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning in 1993, Jack noticed that David, then still in the early years of his doing his Mayberry Deputy tribute, didn’t have an authentic law-enforcement cap. When Jack saw David again the next year, he presented David with his first authentic cop cap. (David has used authentic caps as much as possible ever since.)
Most of all, Jack was beloved as a true friend by legions of Mayberry fans, and we can be sure the same was true in his many other circles of friends. He was the definition of “kind behind the eyes.”
In TAGSRWC, “we shall meet, but we shall miss him. There will be one vacant chair.” We continue to keep good thoughts going out to Sue and all of Jack’s family.
We’re greatly saddened by the news that Joe Anthony, one of TAGSRWC’s earliest and most dedicated members and founder of “No Thank You, Leon” chapter (Kankakee, Ill.), died unexpectedly on January 2. He was 62.
Joe and his two co-founders started their chapter in October 1985. Joe stayed continuously involved in TAGSRWC throughout the next 35 years. Besides his local chapter, Joe was an active participant in several online Mayberry groups (including “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” and more often than not attended Mayberry Days® in Mount Airy, as well as many other Mayberry gatherings, large and small.
Beyond Mayberry, Joe was deeply involved in community activities in Kankakee, where he was a lifelong resident. He was an avid participant in sports (he played varsity soccer at Kansas University). He began coaching sports teams at age 17. His teams ranged from soccer and volleyball to basketball and girls softball to Little League and senior baseball.
Along the way, Joe parlayed his journalism degree into a law degree. He served as an assistant state’s attorney and public defender. He had a thriving private law practice at the time of his passing.
Joe was an active member of his church, donated blood as if on a mission (more than 22 gallons) and was likely Kankakee’s leading instructor on how to properly fold an American flag. Besides sports and Mayberry, Joe’s interests included pop culture, music, history and genealogy. You’d want Joe on your team for a Trivia Night about anything.
But Joe saw life as anything but trivial. He approached life with rare gusto. Those blessed to know him will forever treasure time spent interacting with him.
Joe is survived by daughter Allyson, son Joey, sister Paula, brother Thomas and dear friend (and fellow Mayberry fan) Lisa Hall.
Kankakee’s Daily Journal newspaper published a nice tribute to Joe in its January 11th edition.
We don’t know whether Joe Anthony and Jack Fellenzer ever crossed paths at Mayberry events through the years, but it’s comforting to think that perhaps they’ve discovered each other as kindred spirits where they are now. Rest in Peace, two great friends of Mayberry!
Note: On behalf of TAGSRWC as a group, memorial donations earmarked for Mayberry Days® have been sent to the Surry Arts Council in honor of Jack and Joe.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome with spirited 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.
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 615 episodes since Allan started the podcasts in 2008!).
If you’re combing the web looking for fun Mayberry stuff, you might need…a comb. We’ve got just the thing with the new “Two Chairs, No Waiting” Comb, now available at Weaver’s for just $2, or as we like to say “Two Chairs, Two Bucks.”
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 so far has around 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..
Even grumpy ol’ Ben Weaver has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. It features all the latest in Mayberry items and merchandise news.
And TAGSRWC also has a growing presence on www.MeWe.com. Mayberry’s pioneering outpost on MeWe is “Sittin’ on a Velvet Pillow” chapter, headed up by Lynn Thomas. That group was followed in short order by Allan Newsome and the “Two Chairs, No Waiting” Podcast and “Only One Word I Can Think of…Big” (a TAGSRWC group that’s also on Facebook), administered by Myron Clark and Tommy Rainwater and an able crew.
In case you’re not familiar with MeWe, it’s similar to Facebook. It’s just smaller and a bit calmer. It has no ads. So, it’s more like a quiet street like Willow or Woods Way compared to the hustle and bustle of Main Street in downtown Mayberry. (“You’re on my foot! You’re on my foot!”) So, if you’re looking to “relax, slow down, take it easy,” check out some of the TAGSRWC groups on MeWe.
**** Post Note ****
You can catch up on Mayberry news with back issues of The eBullet by visiting the eBullet Archives in the Newsletters section at imayberry.com. Each issue is placed in the Archives at the same time that it’s published.
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 issue of The eBullet is scheduled for March. Our first issue of Weaver’s Newsletter for this year will be in February.